Here we are.
It's nearly June and most of my golden state is still currently shut down. While we have entered Phase 2 of reopening, it really hasn't provided much light for those of us managing a very small business. Sure, restaurants will reopen, stores will resume normal-ish hours, and government buildings will start to flutter with new activity. But for the rest of us? For those who can't get SBA loans, assistance, or rent reprieve, it's a much longer road ahead.
One of the most challenging things I'm personally facing as a business owner comes in the form of scarcity. You see, when folks heard there was a pandemic coming, the first thing they did was hoard massive amounts of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The second thing they did was Google, "How to make hand sanitizer and resell PPE." And then having become overnight experts in immunology, virology, and microbiology, they set to work. How does one make money off of other people's fears, you might wonder? Simple. Buy up every seemingly last bottle available on the internet and sell your homemade concoctions with a side of nitrile gloves. I mean, really?? (And don't get me started on the hundreds of incorrectly crafted/obsolete hand sanitizer solutions on the market...)
And so, just as many other apothecary businesses, we are currently bearing the brunt of a supply chain shortage. I use glass bottles and jars regularly for my goods, just as I have for the past 7 years. But what happens when there are no bottles or jars to be found?
Several problems will result from this kind of shortage, one of them being devastating mark ups from companies that still have inventory. This then trickles down to us, the purchasers, and then finally on to our customers and retailers. If you're noticing an upward trend with product pricing, this may be the root cause. It's a nasty business and something I am none-too-thrilled to be a participant in.
As I sit here and write this, I'm currently waiting on 3 orders from companies who claim they may not even have access to new stock until October. OCTOBER. Let that sink in. We will be unable to access our regular bottles and jars for nearly 5 months. OUCH.
So now what?
It's simple, though ugly...
For us, this may mean less pretties in bottles, but most likely more soap variety. It may mean discontinued products but also paving the way for refocus and newness. It may mean longer shipping times, but also allowing the possibility of in-person pick ups.
As I told my best friend today, I'm all about the pivot. Flexibility is key in times of crisis, and so we forge on making way for what's yet to come. I don't know what that looks like, but take comfort in knowing I'm here to keep fighting the good fight.
How you can personally make a difference...
Let's spread love like wildfire. And try to remember that patience is most certainly a virtue.
Written by Meghan Wright, owner of Figs and Feathers Farm