Before I get into this post, I want to preface with this: I by no means am special in this current situation that is the world right now. Most — if not all — of my friends are small business owners. We all have families and lives to support, and I 100000% understand that. I am just turning to the only place where I know how to express what is on my mind. And there’s a lot on my mind friends, so bare with me.
I’ve been stuck in this dark cloud, trying to communicate what it is I’m feeling right now. Every time I attempt to type it out on Instagram, I either feel like my feelings aren’t valid or once I do explain what I’m trying to say, I get cut off by the word limit on the platform. I am a small business owner, I rely on my small business to make a living and support my family, along with my mom’s living and our two employee’s and their families. Not to mention, we are in the unusual spot that before this we had already been closed for 10 days to remodel. (Yes, I love the way the store is evolving. However now, looking back, YES, I regret that decision. What are you going to do?)
I am trying to watch the news and stay *correctly* informed. But when the headlines read, “Airlines requesting billion dollar bailout,” my blood boils. The airlines?! What about us small little minnows down here?! I have already tried contacting our Insurance provider as well as the Small Business Association, both of which are not offering help right now. What about the tens of thousands that are going to have to shut our doors for good because of this? Each day I wake up, go about my usual routine and head out the door to the store. There is no other choice than to keep truckin’! (What I tell myself over and over.) I have to get the shop in order and freshly merch-ed sometime for whenever we DO reopen. I open the doors to a cluttered shop in disarray with new product and boxes everywhere. Normally I would be THRILLED to come to work to see this. These are the days that we would previously have considered like Christmas, surrounded by boxes that we most likely have forgotten what are in them so opening each one would be a pleasant surprise. However now, I open the doors to see a maxed out credit card. I see boxes and boxes of AMAZING product that I was bursting at the seems to share with our sweet sweet customers. But now we wait. We wait until something/someone bigger than us tells us we can go back to our normal. And that, is incredibly overwhelming to walk into.
So, because I’m overwhelmed by the shop, I’ll sit and scroll on social media for a little until I feel motivated to get to work. But guess what? Social media is overwhelming me as well. To start, I see fellow boutique owners posting shipments upon shipments of orders they’re sending out. I am SO happy for them, but not all of us have 50+ orders coming in to pay the bills. And guess what, I completely understand why people are hesitant to spend right now because hey, I don’t have any income to be disposing either! Or on the other hand, they’re posting memes and GIFs about the Coronavirus. I’m sorry, I just don’t find that funny right about now. (I know some people cope with things through humor — I’m not usually that person.) If they aren’t posting those two things above, they’re posting their thoughts/take on the Coronavirus. And every additional post that I read makes me more sad. Makes it all more real. Makes everything sink in with every word I read. Heck even today, a friend of mine and small business owner herself posted a photo of her with tears running down her face. This sweet face that I envy and look up to for her positive, bubbly, and fresh perspective. That’s when it all hit me. I can’t get around what is happening.
My mom always used to yell at me for ignoring the things that I don’t want to face. It’s one of my worst habits and I am truly trying to work on it. But you guys, I DON’T WANT TO FACE THE CORONAVIRUS! I don’t want to get sick, or endanger my friends and family, but I don’t want to sit inside for weeks either! I don’t want to have to postpone our reopening that was going to be so amazing. I don’t want to have to dip into our savings to keep the lights on. But guess what, these things are all real and I’m going to have to do all of them! And that’s life! My mom also always used to tell me, “T, life’s not fair! It’s just not! And one day you will understand that.” HA! MOM, I FREAKING UNDERSTAND IT! HOW MANY TIMES AM I GOING TO HAVE TO JUST SAY, “WELL, LIFE’S NOT FAIR!?”
Alright, this is all starting to sound like a pity party, and that is NOT what I want this post to be. I’m just lost. I have always been a big fan of social media (obvi?), but I feel guilty for pushing “Shop Small! Support Small Businesses!” Aren’t we supposed to be shopping small all year long? Ugh.
Now, here’s where this post turns around. Am I going to let this define me and my business? Nope. I work harder when my back’s up against a wall — always have and always will. It’s the way I was raised. Am I going to stop posting and showing up on social media because I feel weird about it? Heck no! Because as my mentor said to me, if I stop posting my business will stop. If I stop showing up so will my customers and community. I am going to use this to stop, refocus, stay grounded, and also realize how freaking lucky I am to have what I have today. I spent most of my life being resentful and angry that my dad was taken away from me so young, but my life got 100000 times better when I realized what I DID have right in front of me and started LIVING. Like my kick-ass rad mom who raised one hell of a woman because she IS one. Like my sweet and supportive boyfriend who has spent everyday this week at my store helping me unpack goods and get organized. Like my employees who have bent over backwards for us and our business. They don’t have to do that! But they do, and that is why they are a part of our family. And most of all, my silly little boy who relies on me. He makes everything better, makes things feel like everything’s going to be okay. (And they are, I know that. It’s just hard to see right now. I’m not going to lie about that!)
This situation has completely blown me away with the love and support this community has shown me. I am thanking God for all of it right now. (And if you know me you know you won’t hear me say that quite often.) But for real, I am thanking whatever higher power above there is. Thanking them for being able to have a functioning website, a stockpile of products and photos that were ready to go online, for having a vision and sticking with it, for having the most supportive tribe around me, all of it. With every cha-ching notification from an online order I am literally dancing, just ask Harrison. With every post share and mention (an absolutely zero cost way to support your small business friends) I am smiling ear-to-ear and thinking about how I can do the same for others. There is strength in numbers. There is hope. And SO MUCH love. And that it how I am able to go to sleep tonight. I freaking love you all so much. If you need me, I’ll be up probably all hours of the night adding goods to our online shop. Check it out, if you so feel inclined!
Stay safe & wash your hands friends.