What's it like being a new small business during COVID-19?
Well, it is official! The silver lining to COVID-19 is that we are actually making our dream to go online a reality. We were heartbroken when we made the decision to close up the shop a week before our governor ordered all non-essential businesses to close. The day after we made the decision, the scrambling process started to move our retail products online. By the way - we have NO experience with putting together an online store from scratch, less Abby having an Etsy shop where all of the hard work of layout is already done for the shop owner by Etsy. Corie Savary, the amazingly talented photographer originally from Ironton but now in Long Beach, California, was a saint to set up our website so that when we decided to make the move to sell online, she had put the basic puzzle pieces together for us.
That first day we went online we only put our own merchandise that we as The Vault created. It was a big move for us not knowing anything about the system we were trying to navigate, but magically, it worked. The 4 weeks after were basically us panicking, drinking wine, trying to deal with schooling kids at home as we both are mothers, attempting to not lose our minds while we heard “Mom”, “Mom”, “Mom” a million times while also panicking again about the fact that there is this crazy virus spreading in the world while also having to figure out the nutty financial assistance passed by the CARE Act and if it could even benefit us as a first year new micro business while also trying to figure out the final details of Third and Center’s bike racks and art murals, next steps with online, worrying about our wonderful employee we had to lay off, Derek, along with one of Abby’s older family members contracting the virus topped off with not being able to meet in person to discuss any of this and being isolated from basically anyone other than our immediate family members in our household. SHEW - that was one hella 4 weeks.
But after all of that madness, we are to a point of clarity for the moment at least. We are going to continue to list our made in the USA retail online along with putting together gift packages with different themes. A customer will have one of three options for getting items such as having purchases shipped, local pickup on Tuesday and Friday from 3pm-6pm or local deliver for those with a 45638 zip code also Tuesday and Friday from 3pm-6pm. We still don’t know how to integrate this online platform inventory with our brick and mortar point of sale inventory. When we do eventually open back up, we don’t want to sell something in the shop and then have someone else purchase it online when the product no longer is available. We would love to figure this out as soon as possible.
Our vendors are heavy on our minds, and we are attempting to come up with a plan on how to offer their items on our website. In order to do that, we need to figure out the logistics for multiple reasons. There are things that need worked out like learning how this system breaks down accounting-wise in order to be able to pay them out because of our partnership percentages. We also are attempting to work on logically what would be beneficial to all parties involved with the additional work it takes to actually get a product listed online, shipped and managed.
So here we are; no filters of this being rosy or a breeze. But what we are is DETERMINED and GRATEFUL. We are DETERMINED to make this work in order to be able to literally open our doors back up when it is safe. We are ENDLESSLY GRATEFUL for the love and support our community has shown us - not only since going online but also the outpouring of genuine excitement and joy each and every one of you has shown to us at The Vault in the past 11 months. We love being able to be a small business in our very own lovely small town and hope to share hugs and smiles with you all in person at some point in the future. Let’s keep taking care of each other because as our business neighbor Deanna Patrick with Edward Jones is showing everyone with her sunshine window display that yes, indeed, “We’re all in this TOGETHER.”