Editor’s Note: The author is a CEDF client who operates Awesome Toys and Gifts in Stamford and Westport, CT. This is an excerpt of an article published by the author’s trade organization at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.
Loss. We all are feeling it. Loss of business, loss of revenue, loss of customers, loss of children running through our stores, but hopefully for not many of us, loss of a family member or a friend.
We are living in a new world that has not finished changing. Losses will continue to pile up. And life will continue to change, not gradually but abruptly. Changes are happening in ways we could have never imagined six months ago. Gone are the days of business as usual. We have been catapulted 15 years into the future.
Now we are faced with a choice: To give up, or to take on this challenge as we always have as entrepreneurs and business people. We must adapt. To paraphrase Charles Darwin, “Those who adapt, survive.” We will survive this and we will be better because of it.
We will never look at our stores in the same way again. Our stores are now stock rooms. We collect and pack orders for pickup or for shipping. Our stores will convert to showrooms and event spaces to bring people together, and, hopefully, while there they will look at our product offerings and make a purchase.
I propose this: If we do not include an easy-to-navigate website, delivery and curbside pickup as a normal way of business, we will not survive. The omnipresence of our businesses is crucial to the future success of our businesses. The unfortunate circumstance is that the demand for these changes have come upon us quicker than we could have ever imagined, and for many of us, quicker than we were prepared for.
Opportunity is banging at our door! Current events have shown us that people still want to purchase toys, and will do so in the easiest way allowed. In these trying times, we have also been shown people’s desire and love for community. It is human nature for people to do what is most convenient. But with all things being equal, they will choose to support their community. This means it is essential for success to offer same-day local delivery, curbside pickup, while still being involved in the community. Our customers do not just want this they are demanding it. We need to answer this call to succeed. We can rise to this challenge. We can adapt and get excited again, about what we do. We can learn to connect in new ways.