Today we hear from Suze Edwards from Sugar Fish in Waitsfield.
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Does your story reflect a personal or business-related experience?
Personal, business. This is a little bit of both personal and business.
How have you been impacted by the mandatory shutdowns?
I think the term that best describes how I initially was feeling about the onset of COVID-19 was cognitive dissonance. Like most people I was totally unprepared and uncertain of the correct actions to take while being overwhelmed with the amount of information, anecdotes and scattered news. It was hard to gauge if I was doing enough or too much. It was unsettling to know what was the right thing to do. I opted to go with my gut and follow what felt right for me. I would rather be the crazy person taking too much precaution than getting sick.
Once I sorted out what was meaningful and appropriate for me, I started thinking about Sugar Fish and Scallywags and what we should do in the midst of the resort, restaurants and retail shops shutting down. For Scallywags, we pressed the pause button. We have enough inventory to supply our local retail outlets during this time period if necessary. We opted to keep Sugar Fish open and offer delivery services to anyone in The Valley and curbside pickups along with our normal service hours. We felt that our space was contained enough to keep up with wiping down the surfaces with Clorox/bleach cleaner in between customers while wearing facial and hand protection. In addition, most people treated it like an ATM waiting for their turn to enter when more than one person was trying to shop at a time.
What has been your greatest challenge to date since the shutdowns began? What workarounds are you proud of so far?
Our greatest challenge was determining the right course of actions to take that would protect our customers and keep us protected. The next biggest challenge was working with our seafood provider to ascertain their status in these unprecedented times to determine if we were going to just run our inventory down or would we be able to continue to source seafood in the foreseeable future. I believe the curbside pickup and delivery services have been successful especially for those doing their best to shelter in place and minimize unnecessary contact.
Have there been any unexpected positive outcomes for you or your business since the shutdowns began?
We have observed an uptick in the number of new people coming into buy fish. The other observation is that people are able to purchase a larger quantity of seafood to store at home, limiting their need to go out and shop for it. Lastly, the other factor is that more people are cooking at home.
The effect of the pandemic has affected individuals, our community, our state, our region, our country and the world. What do you think the outcome might be of everyone sharing this life-altering experience? Do you think it will be different for those who live in small towns and those who live in cities?
I see this experience creating a kinder, more compassionate world no matter where you live and I hope that the compassionate shift can be sustained and becomes the new norm rather than just a fleeting moment in time.
Anything else you'd like to share about your experience?
I may have some pictures that will come separately.