COVID19 Small Business Journal: Week 3
Week 3 and a brief update: we’re still here, trucking on.
Here’s a photo of the Main Shop, looking bright and sunny, if empty. It’s significantly less depressing than the Studio Shop, although that might mostly be because we’re at the Main Shop every day and only see the Studio Shop at night when we’re raiding it for inventory.
If you look carefully, you can see the very front table of the shop cleared of stock--we’ve commandeered it as a general work table for homeschooling, photos, the blog, lunch. It's usually piled with books and snacks and sweaters, and we sit there looking out through the window, grimly waving at people walking by who are grimly waving at us.
I keep talking about this “new normal” like this it’s all perfectly fine, while walking around with my eyes opened extremely wide, mostly scaring people into social distancing from me because I look unhinged.
But we're doing okay. Online orders are still coming in, and our general scrambling had come down off manic desperate energy into manic high energy. We are tremendously thankful for all of you that are keeping us alive. There is no community like the pen community.
And we're also tremendously thankful that our website and our shipping processes are all already set up, and we're just sort of pivoting all of our efforts into there. It's a very different thing, to have gone from chatting with customers in the shop to chatting on the phone or via the Live Chat on the website. We're working on getting everything online so you can still browse all the little things, like gel pens or paper clips, and also trying out new things for fun, like the Mystery Pen Surprise, or re-launching another round of the Pen Pal Match Up. We're strategizing and brainstorming and looking at what we have on hand and what we need.
In some ways this brings me back to our very early days before we even had a brick and mortar. We had launched in April, online only, and then opened our first brick and mortar shop in July, so for a few months we spent all our time agonizing over product pages and in the throes of future uncertainty. It's distressingly easy to get overwhelmed going into the rabbit hole of the future, what with dire predictions of models based on percentages of people doing certain things and the city of Toronto worried about losing money precipitously. Is it encouraging to be in the same boat as the entire city of Toronto, or …somewhat alarming? Who knows! WHO?
We're taking things a day at a time, each day being a mammoth of a journey to get through.
The kids are probably adjusting the best of all, aided by a constant stream of cookies and other snacks they'd otherwise not be allowed to have in such prodigious quantities. I guess it depends on the day, and if one of them is having the meltdown I wish I could be having. To cope with the long hours at the shop, they’ve invented this “game” wherein Caleb aggressively chases Naomi around the shop with this giant, heavy-duty broom, with very stiff big bristles.
Occasionally the broom will get caught on a table leg and everyone will explode into laughter as Caleb flies forward. This game is not my favourite, despite it entertaining the kids quite well for at least 3 and a half minutes, because for one, it’s a very intense thing to watch one of your children attack the other with an industrial broom, and for another because while Naomi always starts this “game” thrilled and delighted, gleefully giggling as she runs away, basically 100% of the time Naomi ends up in tears, usually sprawled out on the floor as Caleb stands above her brandishing the broom around triumphantly.