There has been a lot of talk lately about what the new 'normal' might look like. Lots of speculation about changes businesses will see, changes in consumer behavior, all serious stuff like that. Taking it personally, and how else can one take anything, I certainly see some changes ahead for me. Some have already happened, others are coming.
For example, I find I can no longer wash my hands without counting to 50. For the rest of my life, I'm going to be counting to 50 while sudsing the digits.
Another thing: like a lot of offices and businesses, one of the volunteer groups I'm involved with has gone to online conferencing instead of face-to-face meetings. I'm getting fairly used to it although it's actually not quite as easy as the people selling conferencing software would like you to believe. For example, if you have a person who tends to talk a long time, it can be hard to break in and give someone else a chance to speak. What feels natural enough in person seems really rude online. Me, I just wish the conferencing programs would let us 'fast forward' some people.
With the pressure off to prepare for various sales and other events (more about this later), I've been spending a lot of time at the computer getting caught up on admin stuff, dealing with the numerous emails from the above-mentioned groups, even getting my paper filing up-to-date. We won't mention spending hours surfing around reading scary articles, taking free webinars which purport to teach you something but always try very hard not to be free, and just plain zoning out on Facebook. With one thing and another, I've been spending a lot of time at the computer. One effect is that now when I sit down in front of a lump of clay on my wheel, I find myself looking for the keyboard...
Seriously, and it's very serious, all my events in the near future are cancelled. My stores are all closed. Wholesale orders are a thing of the past. My much-loved Carp Farmers' Market is postponed, and when it does open, it will be for food sales only. My studio tours, at least the Spring and Summer ones, are cancelled. During the current lockdown, I'm not even allowed to have my shop at the Studio open. I can do online orders, to be mailed or picked up or otherwise delivered, but I'm not supposed to have my pottery available to walk-in customers.
You can imagine the effect of all this on my income. And my stress level. By the way, I think we should have a new phrase: 'pre-traumatic stress syndrome'. After all, at that instant when you become aware that the light ahead of you is not the end of the tunnel but a fast-approaching freight train, your brain is hardly in the best condition for calmly devising a solution. No doubt this is one reason I've been spending so much time on the computer - it's easier and it reduces the stress and allows you to think you're at least doing something. But it's also an insidious way of avoiding taking any real action. It makes staring down the bright headlight a little more bearable, but it doesn't get you off the tracks.
So. What to do.
First, I'm setting up a Shopify store. It'll have only a few items, and delivery will be pick up or mail only, and we'll see how it goes. If I get a good response, I'll add more items. There are also several other online platforms I'm looking at, and since they all reach different audiences, I'll likely go with one or two of them as well. I'm still in the middle of setting up at Shopify, making the stock (I figure it's important to have stock on hand as nobody will want to wait for their order), taking the photographs, sorting out the payment options and so on. Once it's ready to launch, I'll send the info out to my mailing list, Facebook etc. And yes, I'll post about it here too! Of course!
Another thing I'll do, once some of the lockdown conditions are relaxed and more businesses are allowed to open, is try to encourage more in-person shopping at the Studio. Social distancing is probably no problem as more than one or two shoppers at once would be rare, and if it does happen, one can go into the shop and the others can wander the garden. With lots of hand sanitizer and some other precautions, it should be quite safe. Safe for the customers, and safe for me. One thing I'll need is a new sign at the road... the last one blew over in the windstorm of May 2018 and the estimate for a new one was so high I've never replaced it. More than a few people have told me I need a sign at the road, and every time they do I think to myself, 'yes, but first I need about $4000 which isn't urgently needed for something else' and I just smile and agree with them. May have to make another temporary one. The last one lasted 20 years.
And I may, only may at this point, look into setting up some kind of new fine crafts market this Fall. There will be plenty of fine crafts workers looking for selling options, and there should be lots of customers eager to browse high quality, mid-priced local crafts. It's a possibility. What you call your definite 'maybe'.
So, I guess I can jump off the tracks.... now, can I hang onto the side of tunnel and avoid getting sucked under the wheels?
Meanwhile, stay well!