Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware of all the madness out there that the new coronavirus is causing. First, hope that you and all yours are well as you read this. It's a strange time for many, especially artists, craftspeople, and all small business owners. So, how do we cope?
It's hard to go with "business as usual" when we see things getting cancelled left and right, businesses ordered to close their doors, churches told not to assemble for service, stores running out of almost everything (don't get me even started on the toilet paper rush!), and kids being sent home from school. Still, it all seems pretty surreal till it hits home.
This past weekend, I and Mr. Buckaroo Bling traveled to Helena, Montana for our second Made In Montana Wholesale Tradeshow. The hopes were high as I'd already made some useful contacts at this show last year, had 3 retailers carrying my products, and was bringing a brand new jewelry collection with a wider appeal than my first one. We had an uneventful drive from Kalispell to Helena, but then, the things went south.
As soon as we stepped up to the registration counter, we were told the show was now limited to only one day, with the public showcase completely cancelled. That was a huge blow to many a vendor at Made In Montana show, because most made better and more numerous sales during the public showcase day than on the wholesale day. Since we were already there, we decided to make the best of it, and just go with the flow.
Even though the only day of the show started well and Buckaroo Bling picked up a new retailer in West Yellowstone, as the day progressed, the hopes dwindled. Out of about 600 wholesale buyers who pre-registered for the show, not even half showed up, and even they were very reluctant to buy. For some vendors the show ended up being a total flop, for others a bit less of a flop, but all in all, things ended up on a pretty sour note.
So, what does a small business owner - and anyone else for that matter - do not to fall into total despair over the appearance of things in the world right now? First, count your blessings. Thank G-d, all of us at Buckaroo Bling are still healthy. All of our jewelry and accessories are virus-free too, and can be purchased in our online shop. We're still planning to introduce our new collection at the end of the month and go ahead with our late spring and summer events as planned.
Now, some of you may be thinking, "Who's even gonna buy jewelry when the world's going to hell in a hand basket?" I'm here to tell you we should all stay positive in face of all the gloom and doom predictions out there. Although some powers-to-be are trying to persuade us otherwise, life MUST go on. If you're stuck at home through no fault of yours, here are some things you can do to make life easier for yourself and for those around you.
- Support your local small businesses. They're in the same pickle you're in, and if nobody shops with them, they might have to cut staff or even close for good. Many local stores are starting to offer curbside pickup for orders you place online or on the phone, and restaurants are starting to offer takeout and delivery, so support your favorite places by taking advantage of these opportunities. That also means if you're stocking up on food and supplies, go to locally owned markets instead of the big chain stores.
- If you do end up going to bigger stores like Costco, look for the locally made products and buy those instead of imported or out-of-state ones whenever possible.
- If you can afford it, buy gift cards from local businesses. You can use them later or give them to someone in need, but you'll be helping the business you got them from right here, right now in making sure they survive through these crazy times.
- Order lots of takeout from your favorite local restaurants while they're still open, and freeze the meals for later.
- Shop local online. Many of your local business have websites. Scientists have found that this virus can't survive very long on packaging materials (like cardboard) in normal conditions. So, order what you need online, and have it shipped to you. Many businesses are offering free shipping to help those who are stuck at home.
- Last but not least, don't stop celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other important life events. Don't stop buying gifts for those occasions and "just because gifts" either. This way, you'll cheer up the gift recipient and support your local small businesses at the same time.
We're all in this together, and we'll get through the frustration, craziness, and even illness easier if we support each other. Here at Buckaroo Bling, we're aiming to support you by offering you a little something special to cheer you up.
Unlike many businesses that are raising their prices, we've lowered prices of all our jewelry by 50%-75% which is pretty close to selling it at what it costs me to make it. Also, beginning today, all domestic orders of $40 or more will receive free shipping with coupon code SHIP4FREEBB2 at checkout. If you're in Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, use coupon code SHIPME4FREE to get free shipping on all orders of USD 80.00 and above. Not only that, but every order, both domestic and international, will receive a free gift with purchase from now through the end of the month. If you're stuck at home, it doesn't mean you shouldn't look pretty!
Last but not least, if you need some tips on how to keep yourself occupied and positive during the shut-in time, check out this blog post about beating cabin fever I wrote a while back.
Stay healthy, keep looking up, and get some retail therapy done at the link below. I've got your back.