The moment he has dreamed of since a young boy, is finally coming true.
Their dreams hanging by a thread; the mothers, the nurses, the anxious, and the grieving. They have worked hours upon hours, with blistered hands, taking any spare moment to perfect their craft. Call it a side hustle, call it therapy, call it whatever you like. The small business owners are making a difference, in their lives and their communities, but is it enough?
In some cases, what started as a hobby has become a necessity for income during the pandemic. In other cases, their business was a stress reliever during a difficult time, a safe haven to weather the storm. The candle makers, the knitters, the painters, and the photographers in a tight-knit community; their slogan: collaboration over competition.
He wakes up early without an alarm and makes his way to the woodshop as the sun softly parts the horizon. Cutting, sanding, and measuring fill his morning and fuel his soul. A chef by day, he has a passion for creating with his hands. He finds refuge in the woodshop as each government closure, delivers a devastating blow to the food industry he has desperately loved since he was a child. He finds calm as the palm sander silences his racing thoughts of the chaotic world. As he finishes it with wood oil, the grain comes to life dancing around the mountain design he carefully crafted out of shimmering resin. Another one-of-a-kind design created for a customer, he takes a moment to quietly admire his creation, a cribbage board made from solid walnut and the live edge of the bark still exposed on the side offering a rustic appeal. He adds his creation to social media in hopes of generating sales. Internet trolls balk at the price and assert they could get the same thing cheaper at…gasp…Amazon. Some even suggest they could make the cribbage boards themselves. He fights the urge to clap back with a sharp comment and continues to his day job at the restaurant.
She clocks out of another long shift at the hospital, unsure of what day it is, she makes the long drive home. The kids are already asleep. She flips the light on in the family room, nestles in the couch, and begins to knit. Three hours and four skeins of yarn later, the blanket is complete; an ombré masterpiece, three gradually lighter shades of pink like a beautiful sunset. Her tired hands power on her laptop and she logs on to update the inventory on her website. She reluctantly checks her email. Another blow, her yarn supplier will not be offering her a wholesale deal. The increasing price of yarn and short supply is devastating to her business. She climbs upstairs with her trusty companion, following just behind. As they walk down the long hallway, his tags jingle and clank as he looks side to side; silently checking to make sure the kids are safely tucked in their beds. Another month until her husband returns from training, she’s cuddled up with her dog just at her feet, his soft snoring provides a comforting white noise to drown out the trials of the day.
A smirk appears on his face as the reality of the moment hits him, the rocket feverishly shaking below him.
The struggling business owner fights back tears, as their business takes another pandemic-induced blow. The push to shop local for the second Christmas in a row is a catch 22. Trending messages online plead with consumers to shop local and avoid supply chain delays. If only, it was that easy. The supply chain shortages are all too real for the crafters and the makers. Their raw materials have escalated in price over the last few months. How naïve to think small businesses aren’t impacted by the supply chain fiasco. The pressure is building as the bills pile up and the concern of supply shortages loom. Any revenues are frantically reinvested into inventory orders in hopes of making future sales, somehow.
Potential customers demand black Friday sales. Some owners jump at the chance to gain more sales and proudly craft a website update offering anywhere from 10 to a staggering 50 percent off. Other owners have crunched the numbers repeatedly. As they are barely making ends meet, they can’t afford any additional cuts to their slim margins.
They ask for grace, the same grace they have acted with; the grace their businesses were founded on. Grace in delayed orders, grace in lost orders, and grace in increased costs. In a world where instant gratification, fast shipping, and the biggest savings are common practice, they begin to lose customers and hope.
He looks down on the cosmic swirl of blue and green he is dominating and sets his eyes on one last sector, the small business owners. A fast trip to space and another box checked off his list. Landing is met with fanfare and of course champagne. A hero’s homecoming after a mere eleven minute trip.
As the holiday season picks up, he sets his plan into motion. He proudly displays a banner on his website making it easy to shop local with fast, guaranteed, and free shipping. A one-two punch delivers a potential final blow to the makers, the crafters, and the hustlers. Will this be the same knockout delivered to small book stores years ago?
The temptation for some is too much. They make the deal with the devil. They drop the additional roles they have accumulated (marketing specialist, website designer, and customer service representative) and focus on the craft they love. A huge drop in profit margins is a small price to pay for restored sanity. Their families are relieved to have their mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons back.
Others put on their armour for the next battle. They’re not ready to give up on their dreams and plans for their businesses. They spruce up their websites, take professional photos, roll out new products, and sign up for any and every local market. For them, Amazon goes against everything they have fought so hard to build. They can’t give in, they won’t.
Will they end up like the shuttered neighbourhood bookstores or will they overcome rocket man? Will a man’s dream of offering everything from A to Z come true? Will we forfeit our slow Sundays browsing the small shops, discovering treasures tucked away in little corners for speed and efficiency? Can these two worlds continue to simultaneously exist; can we have our Sundays and our speed?