How we keep going when business is tough
I’ve had a dose of the winter blues lately. Business is hard- I know we aren’t the only ones finding ourselves with less shoppers due to the bitter cold snap. On top of this we have had a few supply issues and delays with some of our more popular products. That’s meant more complaints and situations where our staff, even though they are trying their absolute best, have had to deal with grumpy customers.
My husband had to remind me the other day of the customers we have made a real difference for. He named just a few, and you know, it did help. It helped a lot. So: I’ve decided. I’m going to write about you in this blog. I won’t name anyone or share photos (unless you want me to) but I NEED to remind myself (and my staff, and my family, and my suppliers, and all those other people who support us and help keep us running) WHY we keep going.
We do it for these people:
We do it for the dad who, after fighting his way through the immigration process for the past few years, finally obtained visas for his wife and FIVE children to come to New Zealand from Samoa. Such a beautiful family, but poor dad had no idea what car seats they could use or how to install them into the van he had just bought. Rules are different here. Julie and I climbed all over the van positioning car seats and considering the needs of each one of the kids. He was so happy to have the van ready, and safe, for the family’s arrival at the airport.
And the mum and dad whose 3 year old has a disability which means walking is hard. The only thing is, the recommended entry weight for wheelchairs is about 30kg and wheelchairs don’t exactly fold up and fit into your car boot. I had never really thought about the practicalities of needing a wheelchair for such a young child. This mum purchased one of our Baby Jogger City Mini GT strollers, which can carry children who weigh up to 29.5kg (even my 11 year old can fit in it). It was literally thousands less than the specialist wheelchairs and strollers for disabled children. And they purchased a rain cover to keep their little one dry in this weather. It made me feel happy to be able to provide something that would have a real impact on daily life for this family. Better yet, they were approved for a WINZ quote (justifying the time Nicklyn and I spent getting that set up for our store).
And then there’s Kim (I can share her name as we ran a competition together). Kim runs Lewis & Reilly and bought a Bumbleride Speed stroller from us. It took a lot of work for our business to gain access to that particular stroller, and new mums like Kim make that work worth it. She gave over $160 in organic skincare products to us which we gave away over Facebook for Mother's Day. We ran a competition where you had to send in what you loved most about your mum via messenger. It was heartening to read how many of those daily actions mums take turn into the big things we remember about them. I love when we get to run competitions: I’m going to do more of them.
And what about Mr and Mrs L? They had beautiful stories to share about the family they were expecting to visit. We helped them install a car seat and prepare for the family’s arrival, and just enjoyed the chin wag. When the family arrived guess where they brought them: our shop. ❣ ❣ ❣
Our elderly are amazing. So often I think we are here for mums and dads, but we aren’t just here for parents! We are local and exist to help those grandmothers and grandfathers find great gifts or hire car seats for tiny visitors. We had this one lady visit just the other day, after we had closed actually. I was still at the shop getting ready to leave and I saw her trying to open our door and went and let her in. She was a darling. She toured the shop and I could tell just how much she loved touching the knitting (which another local gran does for us), and deciding on a suitable toy to send to her new family member in Australia. She made me feel grateful for the fact we have such a small shop (compared to Farmers and the Warehouse) because it was easier to move around for her. And her smile. Her smile was my favourite.
And then OF COURSE there are the mums and grandmas who take a moment to send us their photos via messenger, email, or instagram. "Baby is here, safe and sound", "Mum's doing well!" or "She/he loves her new plate / bottle / bib / pacifier!", "Look what just arrived! So excited!" Those messages seriously make our day, and somedays, we really need that.
It’s hard when you care. Every delay, every complaint, every thing that goes wrong. It all hurts you. Emotionally, mentally, even physically because you wake up at night stressing out about how you’ll get through it. But, caring is what enables us to connect with others. Caring is how we get to know our customers’ stories. And maybe it’s ok to care so much as long as you remember to fill the cup each day with gratitude for those people who you do operate your business for.