COVID-19 Small Business Journal: Week 10 Update and Thoughts on Re-Opening
Some of you may have heard that Doug Ford, Ontario’s premier, is allowing shops to re-open, which really came upon us very quickly, caught us off guard a bit. I feel like it was just yesterday that they were ramping us up for curbside pickup and we were scrambling around printing off new signs, adding things back to our website for check out options. Jon’s been modelling bags in the front window for customers. That was already adjustment enough for us all.
I supposed no one will be shocked to know that we are not quite ready to re-open. The shop is, lightly put, a bit helter-skelter. We’ve been clearing off the tables for homeschooling, work, drawing. We’ve been raiding the front displays for inventory since it seemed purposeless to hold stock out front if we could sell it online and the end to this seemed nowhere in sight (actually, it was, evidently), and there are various cardboard shields and remote control cars and single shoes strewn about.
Another factor for our small shop is that even if we muscled through to get the shop ready, disheveled or otherwise, we very likely don’t have the resources to offer service at the increased levels needed to keep everyone safe and feeling comfortable at the current state of things in Toronto. We considered ourselves a fairly high touch customer service shop to begin with—testing out pen nib sizes, discussing inks, grabbing ink samples from the back. It will take more staff to serve far fewer customers if we’re going to be limiting (and monitoring) the number of people in the store at a time, cleaning and sanitizing between customers. Limiting how much customers can touch means we will need more Vanna Whites to demonstrate the full glory of G. Lalo and there are only so many in this world.
So while it seems like every week we are making new adjustments to the way we’re running things, internally behind the scenes or more broadly speaking, reacting to government restrictions or announcements, we are sort of holding steady for now. Some shops are already ready to open, and have been working hard on their strategies to keep everything clean, and other shops are holding off, whether it’s because they have clothes for people to try on and so it doesn’t make sense, or because they’re focusing on their curbside pickup and delivery, like us. We’re waiting and seeing how things are going to go, watching and learning from other shops and what they’re doing and what the government advises in terms of best practices for health and safety.
In any case, I will leave you with this blurry photo, taken by Caleb, representative of how I am feeling about life right now. I am everything in this photo: the umbrella (broken after a manic and enthusiastic journey 20 feet from the back door to the living room), the photo itself (out of focus, blocked by fingers, tilt-a-whirl), and the cat (bracing myself to be whacked in the face by an erratic child while just trying to take a nap). Also someone has stolen my phone.