Only warehouses are such iconic places in Bogotá as the Florida pastry shop or as Warehouses Aunt.Anyone can identify them by their white facades, wooden doors, large windows that exhibit products and the word "only" in capital and red color.Both the infrastructure of the stores, with their granite floors, wooden boxes in which the clothes and buckets are folded to transport the merchandise, and their staff dressed in blue batters are anchored in a tradition that began 66 years ago José C.Rodríguez, in a Chapinero store.
From the company's history it is known that the founder arrived in Bogotá displaced by violence and in the capital he took a loan to buy a machinery and manufacture shirts.In 1956 he married Lilia Moncada, who had a clothing workshop.Rodríguez and Moncada joined in life and at work.Since then, it is a family business.In 1969 they already had six small warehouses and focused on offering products at low prices, conquering the popular capital market.
It is also known that they do not invest in advertising, because they prefer to give their customers low prices to loyalty.Hence, many remember the stores because there they bought them the stockings and shirts of the school or because you get baby clothes and bags for grandmothers, among other items.Like the rest of everything, the pandemic involved improvising adjustments and looking for solutions for all the obvious problems that caused.
The first announcement, in March through its website, was that they would close their twelve stores - in which they sell clothes for the whole family and house garments -, to prevent the propagation of the virus and protect their customers and more thanthousand direct collaborators.They also said that they were working to meet the payrolls of that month.
“We were very supported by the company.The full salary came to us.Sometimes I could not attend for health reasons and I was supported by my bosses, ”says Nury Bernal, head of the baby clothing section of the galleries headquarters, who has been working in Only for thirty years.
Then they announced that they were going to offer remote sales.The company asked interested people to fill a form with their contact data on their website.Isabel León, the supervisor of that point, remembers that "it was novel" and that they were told that they were going to boost sales by that channel."We had to lead that process in each store.The first day gave us a lot of scare.We think about what the presentation protocol was going to be, how we were going to offer the products and show them.We contacted customers and told them our policies.Then we took the thread ".
León believes that the idea of selling on WhatsApp emerged at the Fairs Headquarters, because at that point they sell them to foundations and they asked them to send them photos of the garments and continue to sell them.
Bernal, who entered the company as a sales assistant and was ascending, says that the change was "abrupt and unexpected", because they were accustomed to serving customers and consumers could touch and tested the garments.
The dynamics changed for the vendors: they arrived at the stores and behind closed doors took the photos of the garments and sent them to the client.With the indications they gave them, they calculated the sizes.Then, they indicated the payment modalities and then made the shipping process.At 68 people who remained blue robe on the five floors of the warehouse every day they were divided by half: four days a group of 34 and four the other.William Riascos, head of the Footwear Section and worker of the company for thirteen years, when he started in one of the two Chapinero headquarters, says that in those months what was most sold were sweatshirts, sportswear, pajamas and towels."At the beginning we only sold in Bogotá.Technology helped us ship to several cities, such as Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Santander, for messaging companies and through turns, pse and transaction.We were all learning on the way ".
As for the homes, they say it was difficult because they did not know how to do them or locate and some of the vigilantes, converted into domiciles, robbed them.“We got sad, but the next day we became motivated.One of the employees, sixty, was the one who taught the boys the addresses, ”says León.
Gustavo Quevedo has been in Only for 23 years and was one of the domiciles.“At the beginning, I had the scare of infection, because we were not prepared to go out.In the day to day I got used to.The experience served me, because I had worked as a messenger before.I know the addresses and I know how to identify the dangerous places.We were also afraid to walk with cash.For me it is very nice to help the company ".
Remember that some clients received it with great caution and fear, but that he presented himself and told them that he had a lot in the company: “I identify and say: 'Good morning, I am Gustavo and I come from Only stores to deliver his request'".He also told them that he was responsible for taking care of his family.Currently, homes continue to deliver and have worked at the headquarters of the Center, Restrepo and Fontibón.
The reception of the people was such that some clients were not attended, because the vendors did not come to contact them.Also, many contact them again to make more purchases.In addition, they faced problems such as the merchandise or lost some supplier, because they broke or closed their factories.Employees agree that the ONLY, more than a job, is a family that gave them job stability and the possibility of getting their families forward and buying a house.For example, León says that in January he turns 33 in the company, for eleven years he is supervisor and entered when he was 18 years old.It has been his only job.
With the economic reactivation they could open and serve the public in the store with the biosafety protocols;However, customers still cannot measure clothes and returns must go through a disinfection process to be exhibited again.They are still attending at a distance.From 10:00 a.m..m.at 12:00 m.They contact possible buyers and show them the products.Then they concentrate on face -to -face consumers and when they have a time the cell phone messages are answering.They have been so well that, even, November sales exceeded 20 % to those of 2019 and in December they will implement four shifts to avoid agglomerations, for the workers who enter for the end of the end of the year.
The owners of the company are still alive and before the pandemic they visited the stores to keep in touch with their collaborators.Now the business, which has twelve stores (the most modern is the one, has elevators), is in the hands of the children and for now they have no expansion plans.
Riascos concludes that “only is a classic store.You find from a handkerchief to a blanket ".A business that has resisted the tribulations of 66 years of operation with a slogan: survive at the time clinging to tradition, but with the will to evolve.That while they shake hands between owners and employees to resist and ensure a future.