Rising Strong: Looking ahead as a small business in a post Covid-19 world

by Ronnie Watchorn

     If anyone had told you in January that we'd be watching the world respond to a virus the way it did, would you have believed them? Yet, here we are. Thankfully, at least here in Oklahoma, we're starting to see the shimmer of light on the other side of this. Businesses across the state (some more ready and willing then others) are gearing up to reopen and I can't help but look around the shop, from the empty showcase I haven't turned on in over a month, the orders sitting on the counter waiting to be shipped, to the shelves that are now used as a stark inventory system instead of staged retail space, and it makes me wonder what a post Covid world looks like for a hometown chocolate shop.

     Business shifted entirely online very early in the game and getting to see my brand grow, expand, and get shipped across the country has been an amazing blessing. Knowing that people are sending their friends and loved ones chocolate to help them through their quarantine or let them know that their thinking about them during social distancing is awesome. I've always said chocolate is a healing food so getting to be apart of that is amazing.

     However watching the continued social distancing orders, the continuing curbside ordering, etc makes me wonder if owning a brick and mortar is going to continue to represent the same level of success it did a year ago or if they're going to become  a bygone relic of an era we disinfected and left behind?

     But I cant say this has been all bad, I've seen and experienced a lot of the positive benefits on the quarantine. My son and I have had so much fun un-schooling and relearning. Reading, cooking, exploring, and finding new adventures in our own back yard. I've seen the earth cleaning itself up as the levels of pollution drop. From the clear waters in Italy to seeing so many more stars than ever before over by porch. You can't go anywhere or log on facebook even without seeing families exploring the world around them together, making memories together. I hope these aspects never go away.

     I've had a lot of people asking me when I plan on reopening the store front and its a hard question to answer. I honestly don't know yet. Governors and mayors are at odds and issuing different ordinances and plans on state and local levels. Don't get me  wrong the economy needs to reopen, HAS TO. In any situation the cure can't be worst than the ailment. We've all watched as businesses get shut down many of them for good. We're all old enough to remember the market crash in 2008. The economy has to reopen.

     But with the threat of a second wave of this crap on the back burner of all of these plans and a severely under developed herd  immunity, who's to say what the best course of action is at this point. The reality is that this virus brought a new level of uncertainty and the unknown with it, cratering our economy and ripping the concept of normalcy out from under us in no time flat. I feel like that has to be taken into account when making the decision to reopen. As an asthmatic single parent, there's so much to think about.

     So I'm asking for your patience and understanding as I keep my head down and lay low through this first wave of openings. I can't tell you when the shop is going to reopen, only that I've been working hard on planning reopening, from new flavors and product lines to a grand re-opening that is going to reshape the shop entirely. So please be patient and understand things from our perspective and I promise we'll be back soon. Until then, thank you for your continuing support, it makes all of this possible.

--Ronnie & Rory