Susan Snider, owner of Mad River Fiber Arts & Mill in Waitsfield, has closed her retail operations, but her work to wash, process and make yarn from wool from near and far continues.
The machinery to do this can be operated by one person, and while Snider worked with one employee previously, they have split shifts and can manage the equipment and the process solo.
“We have months and months of orders on the books and we’re able to keep it running. Obviously retail is closed, but deliveries come curbside and we ship stuff out when we finish an order,” she said.
She’ll still be filling orders, but just not as fast as when they were both working. Her employee’s work schedule is now constricted by the fact that she has to homeschool her kids.
The fact that she has a lot of work booked ahead is good. Snider said that she is now hearing that some shearers are postponing shearing until this is over because shearers need help from sheep owners to hold and calm sheep while shearers do their work.
“I do have some customers who I’ve called and they said they were delaying the shearing. It doesn’t harm the sheep to wait a little longer,” Snider said.
Snider is happy to have the work and the ritual of coming to work to keep her occupied. She said she’s not afraid of the threat of COVID-19 per se. She said she feels the medical professionals can handle it.
“I’m not scared. I’m a little bit anxious. I’m very, very concerned about shutting down the economy. That scares me more than anything. I’m lucky I can keep working and generating revenue at some level,” she said.
When she’s not at work, she’s been doing some specialty weaving jobs at home, special commission and other work. She’s getting outside when she can and limiting the grocery store visits to once every seven to 10 days.
“I try to limit my news intake to morning and evening; otherwise it’s too much,” she added.