A Mid-Holiday Season Update
Back when the pandemic first “happened” and things in Toronto first got shut down, I did these weekly updates on the blog. It was mainly a way to share what was going on in terms of shop policies, the brick and mortar versus online, Canada Post updates, but of course it quickly devolved into incoherent rambling to the point where I lost track of which week I was on and eventually they lost numerical week status and were just vaguely titled “Weekly Update.” It was pretty manic in those early days: about 65-75% of you are just here for the cat, and what happens when the shop that houses the cat is closed? This is our new normal now, and I’ve paused that scintillating series, but in the midst of this holiday, shall we call it a rush? I thought we would just share how we’re getting along.
Canada Post continues to be swamped and things occasionally get bogged down here and there, but mostly packages move along eventually and we are tremendously grateful for this postal system. We would not be here without them, and many other small businesses are in the same shoes as we are. I hate to make bold blanket statements, but you should consider getting a move on things if you’re hoping to get gifts in the mail.
That’s the main gist of things, Canada Post is slow, so order as soon as possible. Otherwise, we’ve been swimming along, bobbing. It’s the holiday season, and we’re aiming for festive even if we fall a bit short. Days are filled with long to-do lists that never get completely done, but that’s the cycle of life. The snow came, along with the wind and chill, and I would be ready to hibernate if not for the impending doom of what the rest of this year holds for us. I’m being dramatic: the lights are still on, and we have a lot to be thankful for. Your orders are holding us steady, and I’d like to think (and hope) that anyone who receives a gift from you via us will also enjoy their stationery treats.
Somewhere along the way of running a stationery shop, I somehow got accidentally subscribed to this email newsletter put out by the City of Toronto’s department (?) that helps small businesses. It’s filled with tidbits of information that are supposed to help you navigate some of the red tape from city hall or various other halls, notify you of grants, new restrictions, deadlines and infographics and things. It’s especially helpful late at night when you’re feeling a bit nutty, you need a good laugh to decompress, some entertainment. And so you settle down with a good snack and open these emails up, learning about the world around you, this parallel universe where small businesses use words like omnichannel and discuss communication strategies and call things like photos “assets.” Apparently studies have shown that one in five (20%) of people have started shopping for their Black Friday deals a month in advance, starting in August, so get your pants on. August! I’m eating my crackers and shaking my head in amazement. I’ve recently learned that what we have been all along referring to as “in-store pick up” is actually now called “BOPIS” which stands for “buy online, pick up in-store.” I’m having a hard time imagining how I’m going to slide that into the Wonder Pens email newsletter, but I’m pretty sure they want it to be used as a verb.
Everyone, by now certainly, has heard how important this season is for small businesses, and in Toronto, locked down, all the small businesses we know, that we’ve ever shopped at, are sending email newsletters and are making pleas on social media just like us, because we’re all desperate. I hate to add to the noise, which I do all the time anyways. It’s tense for everyone, for staff, for business owners, for customers, for teachers, for students. Some of us are closer to the edge than others, but I can say that we are thankful to at least still be on the cliff.
From the perspective of this small stationery shop, the pinnacle of non-essential retail businesses, not even offering warm scarves or children’s books or high quality chocolate or something else that could vaguely been considered essential, we are thankful for those of you who feel that pull to a beautiful fountain pen like we don’t, or who crave the satisfaction of a pencil against paper. Who continue to support our small business in the form of orders, and who support our shop in other tangible ways, whether it’s a follow or a like, or it’s keeping us in mind when you stumble across someone who is a weird analogue nerd. We are swimming along, and grateful to have you along for the ride.