Information on small business support remained vague and changed day by day. Spent most of my time obsessively refreshing the news, note-taking, researching, hand-wringing, and chest-gripping. Immediately canceled all subscriptions like Netflix, Tidal, Spotify. The 10% wage subsidy had me cackling shabbily in the dark in fetal position because I appreciate a good joke. Laid everyone off. Cried a decent amount. Drank a fair bit of wine.
"Screw the news, why should I wait to try my best - let's get it" mentality.
16 hour days moving inventory from store to home, collecting ISBNs, and formatting import sheets to upload products onto the Wix platform. Dove in deep optimizing settings, apps, and accounts for Facebook and Instagram business. Wrote my first blog post here. Set up a Gift Card page (clunky) and a kind friend purchased the first one (thank you Lane)! Uploaded ~100 products onto the Wix shop. Signed up for free courses on EDX and Coursera. Attended a webinar by the CFIB which was incredibly helpful and reassuring. They have really been going to bat for small businesses at the political level. As well as updating information and resources on their website that you can access even if you are not a paying member. Received confirmation about our shop's rent deferral for April, though no news about March or May. The CMHC have communicated to the Granville Island business community at large a few times regarding rent relief, but not in very enthusiastic or concrete terms. There is an ongoing campaign for Granville Island business owners to write to the Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry about rent abatement. Once I get to writing my letter, I will share it here. Incurring debt so we can pay rent for the months we were closed and had no income is not a viable solution.
Spoke to the Vancouver Sun about first thoughts on new government announcements for small business support. The CERB and wage subsidy increase are positives, though unsure what the latter means for us. Everyone is laid off including myself, and I rushed to do this so we could all access EI as quickly as possible. Emailed our accountant to find out if I can hire back our staff given our current situation (no reply yet). The 40K loan interest free with forgiveness sounds great, but I will believe it once I study the fine print. Signed up for the shopify 3 month free trial. Uploaded Large Print Books to the online shop after finding out from a friend that all the seniors at the centre she works at are trapped in their rooms, having even their meals brought to them. Period finally came 10 days late and tried to murder me with cramps. Conflicting information about Advil made this an extra joyous time.
March 30th-April 31st:
Lewis Ofman on repeat to bootstrap productively and good spirits.
Formatted and uploaded products to both Wix and Shopify. Alternated between periods of great flow and wanting to slowly walk into the ocean. Exchanged a lot of emails with Tim of Booknet Canada about the Shopify Bookstore Builder Plugin (thank you Tim for your help and patience). Zoomed with some of the lovely women I used to work with at VPL and shared some much needed laughs. Some things we shared with each other:
Free streaming Tubitv.com
Feldenkrais classes by donation Awareness through movement
VPL's Digital Library
Burnout take 2, ft. chips in bed.
Extreme anxiety about finances: rent, bills, overdue invoices. Spent the day with blinds drawn eating all manner of junk foods in bed watching movies from the 40s with Carole Lombard in them. After a day of dejected sloth received an email from a customer that made my heart swell and break and cry (thank you so much Grace, for your loving encouragement and query). Got to work putting together a collection of graphic novels for Raina Telgemeier Fans for the online shop:
Jumped out of bed and went to the store to collect graphic novels and Easter books for Grace. Collected nearly 1000 other ISBNs to upload online. Touched based with Christine, our wonderful Kids Market building manager and liaison with our landlords. She updated me on all she is doing to advocate for us with the CMHC and local government for more support (thank you Christine - so grateful for you). Checked in with Donna of Just Imagine who happened to be there too. We started a Kids Market Shop Owners support group on Facebook together and it's been a great help to be connected in this way. She had just got her first online order in too. It felt great to share information and unload our frustrations with one another. We wondered if there was a greater group for all Granville Island businesses and artist tenants to share information. And if not, maybe starting one. Got home and uploaded relevant products as fast as I could on Wix. The other ~1000 ISBNs I collected were easily imported onto the Shopify platform, with all metadata already populated (description, title, product image, price). By evening was able to email Grace back with suggestions and my heartfelt thanks. Was extremely touched by this post my friend Emma made about the first Covid birth she was a part of:
If you or anyone you know is expecting, please consider Bunky Bambino - a full service Doula network led by Emma. Probably one of the most devoted, passionate, hard-working women I know.
FIRST ORDER & PAYMENT RECEIVED THROUGH OUR ONLINE SHOP!
Amazed and so grateful. Went to pick up the order and carefully sanitized every item and wrapped them in saran wrap for delivery. Also made a little book drop at Kitsilano Wine Cellar for Jacob, the best wine guy in town. I'm beginning to get more comfortable sharing what I'm doing with friends. It's difficult to ask for help, or bring attention to myself, especially at a time like this when I know so many of us are facing financial uncertainty. But it is helping a bit to reframe the situation as providing a service and goods for people who need it right now.
SECOND ORDER & PAYMENT RECEIVED! AND MORE QUERIES FOR BOOKS!
Received our second online order through the website! (Thank you Rowan!!) And more inquiries from customers looking for specific kinds of products. Many requests for baby books, books on kindness and empathy, activity books. Because our access to the building is restricted to weekdays, I've been doing what I can from home in preparation for getting these collections together on Monday. Some beautiful scenes from my Sunday evening walk with mom in Maple Ridge:
Panicked Urgent Calm
Went to the shop again to collect ISBNs and products for specific requests. Worked as hard and as fast as I could, but couldn't help feeling frustrated and a bit overwhelmed doing everything alone. Loaded the car with hundreds of books again. Got home and applied for the CERB - thankfully only took 5 minutes. Emailed Aimée and Bryn to check in and see how they're doing. Uploaded 1500+ items onto Shopify, and now will export this list and format it for Wix. I'm happy to have some momentum back in my routine, working to get the online shop into shape. But it's a kind of panicked urgent calm now permeating my every waking moment, knowing everything that needs to be done without the ability to do it all at once. All I can do is try.