Many of you have asked how we are surviving. How is business. Are we hangin’ in there. I am optimistic. I thrive in an environment of challenge where I am expected to solve problems and find creative solutions.
But this?! This season has been tough. I desperately miss my team who started their furlough in April (hence this being the first newsletter I’ve sent out since then). I miss the regularity of business hours, customers and workshop participants. I have to host between six and eight private paint lessons with a time involvement of 24-32 hours to accomplish what one four hour group class would cover. My exploration of artisan merchandise has completely halted because ALL revenue is covering the cost of keeping the lights on, paying rent and stocking up on paint. I’ve applied for six small business grants and have not been awarded a single one. And the shop hours? Well…they’re just plain stupid. I went from 56 hours of weekly shopping hours to a mere 15 as I navigate the world of sole business owner/worker and home school facilitator. I waiver from operating at about a C- to B- level on any given day in all aspects of my life..
But, it’s not all bad. A year ago, I was lamenting that I had run out of significant home projects that I could share and during Covid, we bought a new house that is packed full of shareable projects. I have been wanting to create more tutorial based video content and was hung up on the need for them to look and feel highly produced. But, with Covid, I was literally forced to be in front of the camera in a real and authentic manner in order to have face time with customers. I have created and uploaded more videos to Instagram, You Tube and Facebook in the past nine months that I have done in nine years of business. For years, I wanted to grow our online shopping platform and solicit more shipping based business. But, with Covid when online ordering became the only option for purchasing, I saw my internet sales quadruple and was able to create a new type of buying habit both locally and out of state.
So, where do we go from here? To say I’m not worried about the future of small business and what the rest of the year has in store for our little Village would be false bravado. I am desperately worried that when people emerge from their homes they are going to find a Village vastly changed by lockdowns and restrictions. I am watching restaurants invest thousands of dollars to make outdoor dining comfortable and aesthetically pleasing only be told no more. With the closure of restaurant dining brings about major limitations in the foot traffic of Village shoppers. What does that mean as we enter the holiday season and the peak of in-store purchasing when there aren’t patrons to shop “in store?” You’re guess is as good as mine.
The holiday season, the chance to recharge my batteries with a few days off will provide an opportunity for some soul searching in regards to the business and how we move ahead in an uncertain future. Y’all should know me by know, though. My bag of tricks is never empty and I have a few that are percolating. I refuse to let Covid be the end of this shop and get the better of my business. But, it means being creative right now. Thinking outside of our traditional business model and finding ways to partner with others. Afterall, we are greater together than alone. And, it means gently reminding our community that without your patronage we can not survive this season. So, find that next project. Come pick up some paint. Refresh that house. Get it ready for Christmas. And, suck me dry of my knowledge! I am an open book and will help you succeed even when you feel that you can’t possibly bring about household transformation!
And, of course. Happy Thanksgiving. We are resilient. We have much to be Thankful for even when times feel despairing!  Enjoy being with your family, whether that is just six of your from your immediate household or the whole kit and caboodle from far and wide!
Love, Michele