Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, I have…
- experienced fear with shopkeepers
- encouraged shopkeepers
- cried with many shopkeepers
And I’ve experienced these emotions myself, along with many others. After deciding to close our store temporarily, the first two weeks were incredibly difficult. It was an adjustment at home and professionally.
My intention is not to be a “Debbie Downer,” but to let you know that you are NOT alone in this. What you are experiencing or feeling is what many of us are experiencing. It’s about acknowledging your emotions/feelings and offering solutions to turn it around.
Here’s what to do based on how you might be feeling during these difficult times.
I’m Panicking/Overwhelmed Because I Was Not Prepared To Sell Online
And to reframe your thoughts, think of the silver lining: if your store is closed, you will actually have more time. You can use it wisely. The best thing you can do is create a plan, write it down on paper, and start chipping away.
Even if it’s one step at a time, taking action will help with the feeling of overwhelm.
I Feel Like My Business Is Insignificant, So It Doesn’t Feel Right To Sell
Our customers want to feel good right now, and they want a sense of normalcy, too. Part of that might mean supporting small businesses or “shopping as usual,” so don’t take this away from them. Remember, they love and support you for a reason!
You don’t have to feel ashamed for selling. But I do think it’s prudent to edit your messaging to fit the reality of the pandemic. Acknowledge that some people might be struggling, use a little sense of humor without being insensitive, and by all means, get creative.
Selling is okay right now. But if you need a break from selling, that is UNDERSTANDABLE too. A great tip a Master Shopkeeper offered is to record videos for future use. If you can still get into your store and it just doesn’t feel right to sell yet, record a series of videos to share later.
This Health Crisis Is Really Scaring Me
Honestly, it scares me too. The best you can do right now is to help flatten the curve.
Doing your own part is the best you can do to protect yourself and your family. You can’t control the rest, and trying to control it all will only bring you more anxiety and stress.
I’m Struggling At Home
I’ve had shopkeepers tell me they are overwhelmed with all the questions their children are asking them and the task of homeschooling, all while still trying to generate revenue for their retail businesses.
Please give yourself some grace—this is a HUGE adjustment for all of us. It will take time to find a balance!
An excellent way to make ourselves feel better is implementing gratitude into your daily activities. Doing this will sometimes help put things into perspective. Some of us write down what we are grateful for every day, and I’ve heard others are writing appreciation cards or handwritten notes to friends and family.
I Have Been Extremely Emotional
The first two weeks after temporarily closing our stores seems to be the most challenging AND the most emotional for many shopkeepers, including myself.
If you recently closed your store, please know that things don’t feel as heavy as they did two weeks ago for many of us. It will get better.
I’m Extroverted And Lonely
Extroverts need to continue connecting with friends and family during this time, especially via Zoom, Facetime, or Whatsapp! I know it’s not the same, but what could be worse is if you don’t connect at all.
It might also help to get outside and walk in your neighborhood or at a park. Seeing and waving at neighbors or people in your community (from a safe distance!) can help.
I’m Introverted And Realizing I Love To Work Alone
If this is you, you might be thinking, “what does this mean for my future?” But don’t worry: being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t love being a brick-and-mortar shopkeeper.
I’m an introvert and LOVE the 1:1 interaction I get with my customers, but I equally value the alone time at home. You can find a nice balance when you’re open. And if you’re finding you would rather work from home more, this might mean hiring team members to manage the front end so you can manage the back end.
I’m Being Shamed For Selling, And It’s Frustrating
This should NOT be happening—small business owners contribute to the economy, and we must continue to do this!
Others shaming you could be the result of their own frustration and struggles. I’m not saying it’s fair or right, but it can help to remember that it’s about them, not you.
I Need To Use This Time To Strategize
I’m hearing this from shopkeepers who are not dependent on their shop’s income to pay the bills. Even though this is stressful, don’t view the extra time as negative. Look at your available time as a blessing and get to work.
Reach out to a biz bestie so you can start strategizing, or get to work on the plan yourself. Do NOT feel guilty about having this time to do some work.
I’m Struggling With How To Best Handle My Team Right Now
I know that many shopkeepers feel extreme guilt about laying off employees. Other shopkeepers are doing their best to keep team members on.
If this is you, I want to remind you that YOU personally have done nothing wrong. We have been mandated to close our stores, which is out of your control. It’s unfortunate, but this is forcing us to shift how we handle our finances.
At this point, we need to cover the bare minimum so our businesses can survive. If you can continue to generate revenue and keep team members on, that’s great, but please do not keep team members on at the expense of your business.
Be compassionate and offer what you can, but I don’t want to see anyone drowning in debt or closing their business because you felt obligated to keep employees on your payroll.
I’m Consuming Myself With Busy Work, And It’s Exhausting
This could be your coping mechanism. However, you need to remember that you must protect your health and mindset.
Try your best to disconnect. Do something that relaxes you—meditate, exercise, read a book, watch a TV show that brings you joy, and just step away from work.
Last but not least, and this one hurts the most…
I Won’t Survive This As A Business
So many tears have been shed over this possibility. It has been the most challenging issue to deal with.
If this is how YOU are feeling right now, I’m asking you to find strength and get as savvy as possible. Take a really hard look at expenses. Cut out anything that is NOT necessary, make phone calls or send emails to get discounts or payments waived, and reach out to your landlord to discuss rent relief options.
This will require patience with yourself, patience with wait times on the phone, and the courage to be vulnerable (which sucks—trust me, I had to do this myself!).
But please, do not let your pride get in the way. Also, you will want to take some time to research grants or other small business programs both in your area and nationwide.
We NEED to be savvy right now, more than ever before.
I often hear from shopkeepers that they are grateful for Savvy Shopkeeper and the communities within it.
So I’ll say this one more time….
You are NOT alone.
- Episode 22: How retailers can handle this challenging time
- Episode 23: Get creative with selling online
- Savvy Shopkeeper’s COVID Resources
- CARE ACT for small business relief
- [01:57] I’m Panicking/Overwhelmed Because I Was Not Prepared To Sell Online
- [02:37] I Feel Like My Business Is Insignificant, So It Doesn’t Feel Right To Sell
- [03:59] This Health Crisis Is Really Scaring Me
- [04:28] I’m Struggling At Home
- [05:26] I’ve Been Extremely Emotional
- [06:06] I’m Extroverted and Lonely
- [07:55] I’m Introverted and Realizing I Love To Work Alone
- [08:45] I’m Being Shamed For Selling, And It’s Frustrating
- [09:11] I Need To Use This Time To Strategize
- [09:44] I’m Struggling With How To Best Handle My Team Right Now
- [11:48] I’m Consuming Myself With Busy Work, And It’s Exhausting
- [12:20] I Won’t Survive This As A Business