Expanding a brick-and-mortar business has always been tricky. If you build it, consumers might not come. But in a pandemic that has required countless consumer-facing companies–restaurants and bars, live entertainment venues, gyms, retailers–to shutter and retool, growth is actually kind of scary.
“You’re not 100 percent sure [growing] is the right thing,” says Erik Allen Ford of Buck Mason, the Los Angeles-based menswear brand he co-founded with Sasha Koehn in 2013. Nevertheless, the company launched its 11th retail location in Austin in August. “You have to weigh the odds, and you have to figure out what the risk tolerance is.”
The risks right now are steep. In large part, consumers have taken their spending online, as the pandemic rages across the U.S. and amid new hotspots in several Midwestern states including North Dakota, Missouri, and Wisconsin.