Elsa’s House of Sleep Committed to Minnesota Community, Especially During Pandemic
Elsa’s House of Sleep, a full-service furniture store in St. Paul, Minnesota, has built a reputation on white glove service and a connection to the community that makes customers and employees family.
Owner Tetra Constantino and his wife, Nneka Constantino, watched as their city—already hurting from a worldwide pandemic—became the center of the country’s news cycle after the death of George Floyd and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It was a triple threat for Black-owned businesses in St. Paul/Minneapolis because COVID-19 disproportionately was impacting our employees, customers, and families financially and from a health standpoint. And, health is the first form of wealth,” Nneka Constantino tells BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“As the world went to work from home, our community went to work during that national health crisis.”
The furniture store stayed committed to its customers by increasing its engagement through text messages, giving virtual tours of its furniture and physical tours by appointment to keep both customers and employees safe.
Elsa’s House of Sleep stayed committed to its in-store family, retaining every employee, including its delivery and assembly staff despite downsizing to one location. It could do that because Elsa’s House of Sleep maintained a close banking relationship with U.S. Bank and were able to get the financial help they needed.
“U.S. Bank was so helpful in multiple ways; the network of support and outreach of the bankers was crucial,” Tetra says. “Due to our relationship with U.S. Bank, we received PPP funding right away and received guidance on how to properly use PPP so that it was forgiven.”
“U.S. Bank connected us with the diversity and inclusion team and continues to be a resource for managing cash flow and access to opportunities,” Tetra adds. “What we have appreciated most about U.S. Bank is that they remain straightforward with their underwriting guidelines and requirements before we start the loan process, so I am able to meet requirements efficiently and continue to run my company.”
In 1997, the store was founded by Elsa Rezene, who put customers and community connection at the forefront of her mission. Her son, Tetra, has continued her mission since he became the company president in 2001.
The couple is glad that Elsa’s House of Sleep made it through the pandemic, but it knows the community it serves is still hurting in many ways from Floyd’s death and the systemic issues that contributed to it.
“We made it through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Nneka says. “We are still in the fight on the pandemic of racism and inflation/economic devastation of our community.”
Nneka and Tetra know that the fight isn’t over, and the next hurdle isn’t far away.
“I am very concerned with inflation because it’s not only impacting the disposable income of customers,” says Tetra. “We are approaching an economic recession with the Black community, which has been in a prolonged depression economically, socially and financially; and though we have weathered the first pandemic we remain in the fight on the other pandemics to follow.”
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