The Chaffee’s Got Heart Committee chose Loni Walton, owner of YOLO, for Chaffee’s Got Heart.
Walton said the pandemic changed operations at her shop, keeping customers and staff safe while still maintaining a mission to add to the vibrancy of downtown Salida.
Early on, the pandemic pushed YOLO to do more online sales and private appointments. In addition to extra sanitizing, YOLO kept the doors open and limited the number of customers allowed in the shop at once.
“We care about our staff and customers. We felt like we wanted to keep everyone safe,” Walton said. “This is very important to us. It has been important to do everything that we could to stay open and be viable business, while taking care of everyone in the same process.”
For instance, YOLO went down to 25 percent capacity when they were allowed 50 percent.
“Everyone’s sense of 6 feet is different so we wanted to make sure everyone was safe. This was hard for business and some people were mad about the 25 percent capacity limit,” Walton said. “However, we wanted to keep everyone safe. It has only been recently that we have allowed 50 percent capacity into our shop. Additionally, we take masking up and cleaning surfaces very seriously.”
Walton said she sees examples of the idea that Chaffee’s Got Heart from the “great locals.”
“From vaccine clinics to contact tracing, our community has been on it. I am so proud of the Chaffee community,” she said. “We did not feel like we were getting a push-back during the height of the pandemic, so this made it easier for us to stay open and do our part in keeping the community safe. This made us feel good when things were scary.”
“Additionally, I have heard people say, ‘I’m going to spend the stimulus check downtown,’” Walton said. “I have been a member of this community for 33 years now, and wow! This is a great community. Even out-of-town customers have been our cheerleaders. They have called YOLO to see how we are doing throughout the pandemic.”
Walton said the biggest takeaway from the past year is how grateful she is to be here.
“I live in an amazing community and I am grateful to be here. I really just want to say that we feel blessed to be healthy and lovingly supported by our community,” she said.
This is YOLO’s 15th year and Walton said the business has seen a lot of changes. She said that Salida feels vibrant, and the reason they’ve made it for 15 years is because the locals shop here all year.
“They are so kind and supportive, Walton said.