"We had a full calendar for spring of events like a watercolor class, cookie decorating, hand lettering [at the Alpharetta location]. Some of them were sold out so I felt like we were on this good momentum and people were finally finding us and participating," Edwards said. "Then all of a sudden, it came to a screeching halt that no one has any control over."
The self-proclaimed artisan market—named after Edwards' grandmother, Mary Ballog—provides the community with body care, apparel, art, candles, jewelry, handbags and other products from local, independent and socially-conscious companies, Edwards said. Ballog was an artist herself, and did not allow for the television to be on when Edwards and her sister visited; instead, Ballog would teach them something new, whether it was painting, baking, fishing or something else. Ballog—who Edwards said did not even pick up a paintbrush until she was 40 years old—taught painting lessons to women at her local community center until she died in 2013 at the age of 94.
Edwards and her family decided to name the store after their grandmother, for teaching them to love art and for being an artist herself.
"She was just this cool, creative spirit. It's a tribute to her and what she believed: it's never too late to start creating," Edwards said.
One of Edwards' priorities for the year was to launch a store website, since she had not yet been able to do so; however, these plans were pushed into overdrive, she said, after they decided to close the store in mid March and had to rely on online sales. She launched the site on March 25, offering free shipping on orders over $100 and free curbside pickup. Edwards, her sister and their mother are also delivering orders themselves to those within a certain radius of the two stores.
"We kind of went into survival mode just trying to get creative and think outside the box of what we could still do to sell despite closing the brick and mortar store[s]," Edwards said. "We went from being open seven days per week in store to not open at all. It's just been nonstop problem solving."
Despite having to close the physical doors to her store and facing uncertainty going forward, Edwards said she has noticed more people rallying behind small businesses—not just in Alpharetta, but nationwide. She said it gives her hope for whatever is coming in the future.
"Seeing the support of the community and people supporting small businesses like I've never seen before ... that's a really cool thing to come from all this," she said. "Every order that comes in, every person that tags us on anything, it literally makes me want to cry because it's so encouraging. That keeps us going."
Those interested in shopping at The Ballog can order products to be shipped directly to them or arrange curbside pickup for their order by visiting www.theballog.com. To contact the store, guests can email [email protected].