Our last blog focused on the insurance claim experience of Trident Booksellers and Café. We asked manager Courtney Flynn to tell us how the pandemic crisis has affected her business, and what she’s doing to make it work in these trying times.
SMW: How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
COURTNEY: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us greatly. We are the prime type of business to be affected. After all, we are an in-person retail and restaurant establishment. Both are dependent on people gathering. And we located in a city where COVID is prevalent. Our success depends on high volume, given our rent. That doesn’t jibe with social distancing. The students were gone, and we were shut down. We did do takeout and delivery. We became a fulfillment center, which we’re really not. The eCommerce way is hard as a small business, so we’re still figuring out how to do those things. The orders come in, and it takes time to turn them around. That has been a challenge.
SMW: You also were famous for your events – trivia, authors, murder mystery night. Have those stopped for the time being?
COURTNEY: Yes, all those things have completely stopped for the foreseeable future. So, the core of our business has been taken away. Now we’re reopened, and it has been better for sure. More people are around, so that helps. But the challenge is that weekends are busier, and then it’s really slow during the week, which makes it hard to staff. There are times when we must turn business away. It has been a wild ride. But: we’re still here! In many ways, the COVID crisis does remind me of our fire loss – the community coming together, the not knowing/stress phase. Maybe in a year I’ll be saying I shouldn’t have stressed out, just like I did after the fire.
SMW: Do you have any advice to other business owners?
COURTNEY: Be confident in your own brand. There’s no reason you shouldn’t, but amidst a crisis it’s sometimes hard to do so. People will hopefully come back. Try to relax. For other business owners in COVID, I’d say it’s important to be flexible – that’s what we’ve had to do. First, we were totally closed. Then we reopened partially – this was done in stages. Now the students are back – fewer, but some – and more people are around. That’s good, but there’s still the challenge of our capacity limit. Then there are the holidays, the cold weather – new challenges always lie ahead. We shall see what happens.