In Montana, craft stores were considered “essential” businesses until last week. This meant The Confident Stitch could provide curb-side pickup and home delivery for local customers. Then, the local newspaper reported last week that the County Health Department told JOANN Fabrics and Michael’s to stop providing local pickup. And, yesterday, I got a call from the health department informing me that TCS can also no longer provide local pickup or delivery services as we are no longer deemed an essential business. (But don’t despair, we can still mail packages near and far!)
As a former public-health professional, I understand that policy-making and prevention are tricky, especially at a time like this. I find it ironic, however, that craft stores transitioned from “essential” to “nonessential” days after the CDC began recommending wearing masks in public (April 3rd). It seems that the reverse should have happened! But, alas, I was not consulted.
A Big Gamble is Paying Off
Every local business has a favorite mail carrier: the one who rarely delivers mail to the wrong address, who is always willing to come back one more time to pick up a special package, and who really cares about the success of the business. At The Confident Stitch, our favorite mail-carrier is Troy, with his handle-bar mustache, his ability to wear shorts year-round (neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will get him to wear pants!), and his genuine excitement when we have gobs of packages to send out.
Yesterday’s compliment from Troy lifted my spirits so much. He looked at my toppling tower of packages and said, “I bet you’re glad you started your website four years ago”. Yes, Troy. Yes I am! I’m not going to lie, gentle reader, it’s been a rough ride.
I started the website at the same time I opened the brick and mortar store. And, until a few weeks ago, the website was not nearly as lucrative as the physical store. I have been seriously doubting the wisdom of starting both at the same time. They each require a different skill set, different staffing, different software, and, of course, money. Although the inventory for both is the same, I’ve, essentially, had to create two completely different businesses.
And, while the circumstances are frightening and uncertain, I feel so grateful to have such incredible technology at my disposal. Not only is our fabric and etc. still available for purchase, but we have the ability to live-stream videos, set up virtual shopping sessions, share pictures, post ideas, and communicate via our blog. We have the gift of connection despite having to stay apart.
How You Can Support Small Business
Amazon and the other Amazonian stores like JOANN Fabrics are going to weather this storm, but many small businesses will not. You have the power to help small businesses both financially and for free.
Financially, you can keep ordering from us by phone, email, or via our websites. And, if any of your favorite small businesses sell on Amazon, make an effort to order from them directly thereby saving them from having to pay extra Amazon fees. What’s more, if you have an item you typically buy from Amazon, Wal-Mart, etc., do some research and see if it’s possible to purchase it, or it’s equivalence, from a local and or small business. You can also buy gift cards for yourself or your friends to use later.
At the same time, if you’re only able to spend money on the essentials right now, consider helping with some free, but nonetheless appreciated, alternatives! Review us on Google and Facebook or refer us to a friend. Subscribe to our newsletter. Comment on and share our social media posts, and generally increase your interactions with us. These things may seem small, but they make a big difference.
There isn’t a small business in existence that doesn’t love hearing and learning from their community!
Although The Confident Stitch is now officially “nonessential” for safety reasons, sewing and creating are more essential than ever. Use them not only as a means to stay sane in a topsy-turvy world, but also to connect with one another, whether it’s through mask-making, blogs, videos, or social media.
Thank you, and remember – we appreciate you so much!