Reflections on the End of the Year That Was
It's funny how your perception of time can change. From where I sit right now, January 1, 2020 seems like a hundred years ago. Almost every aspect of our lives is so very different than it was on that day. It's hard to believe that only a year has passed.
Yet somehow, it also seems like the year has flashed by in the blink of an eye. It seems like only a few days ago when we were hearing about this corona virus and thinking very little of it - it hadn't affected most of it in Canada yet. Less than a year later, most of our lives look completely different.
It has, without a doubt, been the toughest year many of us have ever been through. It's made even worse by the knowledge that although there is light at the end of the tunnel, we know we have many months of very hard times ahead of us before we come to that light.
In spite of all of the hardship, I find myself incredibly thankful for a number of things. Chief among them is you.
When retail stores were given the word, back in March, that we would have to close, we were given no indication of how long. It could have been a few weeks, a few months, or many months. I was certain that this meant an end to the vast majority of our sales - up to that point only about 15% of our sales were online. I spent hours going through our financials, trying to determine exactly how long we could go without sales before I would have to look at making some really hard decisions - like letting staff go or even closing.
We quickly moved to an online only model, and made same day pickups more easily accessible. I publicized our pick up hours as much as I possibly could. I added an extra doorbell at our front door to make pickups easier. I reached out to other businesses so we could help each other make sure people knew who was open and how we were doing business.
To my amazement and relief, the Tickle Trunk did not see the drastic reduction in revenue I was expecting. In fact, our sales actually increased. Quarantines, it seems, are good for sex toy sales. When people are forced to spend almost all of their time at home, they need something to do, and sex is something they like to do.
You rolled with the changes quickly. You shopped with us online like you never have before. We shipped hundreds of packages and prepared even more for pickup at the store.
In short, the Tickle Trunk survived those months of shut down because of you. You have been actively involved with us and have supported us in a truly overwhelming way.
When we got the news that we were allowed to reopen, I was trepidatious. I wasn't sure how we could operate and still keep our staff and customers as safe from transmission as possible. I waited several weeks past the day we could open while I gathered information and looked at best practices. My staff and I worried together how it would go when we reopened. Would people be angry or disappointed that they couldn't touch the demo toys? Would people refuse to wear masks? Would they be upset at being asked to use hand sanitizer and not to touch things? Again, to my great relief, those fears have been unfounded. With a very few exceptions, we found most everyone to be very understanding and accommodating. In fact, we have found almost all of our customers have gone out of their way to be helpful and supportive.
Now in this very uncertain time when we have all been asked to stay at home as much as possible, we have seen a major reduction in traffic. And yet, once again, the web sales have gone up. You're staying home but you're still supporting us - taking advantage of pickups and shipping instead of coming into the store to shop.
During this time when so many small businesses have closed their doors and others struggle to survive, I feel so incredibly blessed that our community has kept us going. Community has always been my number one priority since the day the Tickle Trunk opened. I have always worked hard to promote community events, to support community charities, to help build community networks. Now I see that coming back to us. I want to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you! It has never been more true that it is now, that we would not be here if it was not for you.
We have a lot of uncertainty ahead of us but we can see the way forward. Please, let's all continue to support each other as we have for the last year. We are in this together and we will come through it together!
Most of all, support your local retailers in any way you can. If you can't buy from them, let people know about them, join their social media and like and share it. We want to see as many of them as possible survive to see the other side of this.
Once again, I thank you for your support in 2020. It has never meant more than it has this year. I look forward to being here for everyone through 2021 and beyond.
Brenda - the Traveling Tickle Trunk