The Third Planet has persevered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Profits, morale, and the number of vaccinated workers have all reached a 2021 high.

Located at 846 Massachusetts St., the alternative lifestyle boutique sells a wide variety of gemstones, crystals and clothing. The upstairs of the shop sells herbal vaporizers, glass blown pipes and body piercings.

In March of 2020, Douglas County initiated a mandate requiring all non-essential stores to be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those was The Third Planet.

General Manager Ethan Adams, a Parsons, Kansas, native, has been working at The Third Planet since 2001. “We were closed for most of March and all of April,” Adams said. “It was a slow grind financially speaking from May through mid-summer.” 

The store has had to limit the number of people inside. Upon entering the establishment, shoppers are met with a table stocked with hand sanitizers and a sign reminding people to wear their masks. Over half of the staff at The Third Planet have been vaccinated and there have been no staff members who have contracted  COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We are not requiring our staff to get vaccinated,” Adams said. “But if you show your vaccination card you receive a day’s worth of pay added to your paycheck.” 

This incentive has gotten a great response from staff. Dakota Collins has been working at The Third Planet for 9 months as a sales associate and recently received her final COVID vaccination.

“It is really nice, you just send in your vaccination card and your next paycheck has a day’s extra pay,” Collins said. “Everyone needs to be healthy and this is keeping people that way.” 

Many stores in the area have been suffering financially due to the pandemic.

“To be frank we are making more money than we usually do,” said Adams. “With folks being stuck at home, pipes, books and stones help them relax.” 

The store had a similar experience during the 2008 recession as again profits exceeded their usual turnout despite a mass financial crisis. “Our store sells things that make people feel better,” Adams said. 

The Third Planet did not implement an online shopping aspect to their brick-and-mortar store. Instead, they decided to have their virtual aspects be more personal. They often used Facebook live streams to showcase new items in the store for customers and even FaceTimed customers and served as their virtual shoppers. 

Adams and his crew are waiting to hear from the county deciding to fully reopen. The Third Planet has five total locations: two in Wichita, one in Washington state, and another located just down the road named Striped Cow. 

Their store in Wichita has been struggling to keep their customers in masks after Sedgwick County ended its mask mandate.

“There have been stories of maskless customers dancing in the faces of our employees in Wichita,” Adams said. “When Douglas County lifts their mask mandate we still plan on doing whatever is safest for our employees.”