Here we are, entering Year Two and wondering when it will start to look like the Before Times — or more likely, if it ever will.
Vaccinations are soaring while cases drop, and people are ready to eat out, travel and shop. There’s a lot of pent-up demand, or so we are told.
Santa Fe’s arterial traffic is close to its normal scrum, and downtown is beginning to look like it always does — street parking is tight and clusters of pedestrians are starting to pop up here and there like spring flowers.
Most of us have pretty much got the new routines down now, after a year, don’t we? Wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain physical distance from others — even after you’ve had your shots.
As a business owner, I have found the daily routine by now to be not so much different anymore than it’s always been, albeit at a much lower scale. We’re keeping an easy pace for our own well-being — shorter hours and longer deadlines — but we’re still busy.
Perhaps the biggest challenge now for businesses is that while the rest of us are settling into a new way of managing our lives and figuring out how to make it work, disruptions continue to upset the daily status quo.
It’s one thing to be a customer: I’ve gotten used to the fact that what’s on my grocery shopping list may not be in stock. Menus at favorite places have changed; longed-for entrees are no longer offered. Department store layouts have been reconfigured and are noticeably more roomy, and in some cases quite sparse.
I call first to make sure a place is open; I make do with what is available, rather than fret about what’s not. We can do this, right? It’s not rocket science.
But as a business owner, I’m faced every day with new unknowns. I go to order from my usual suppliers and find frequently needed items out of stock, discontinued, delayed.
So much of the manufactured products this country relies on come from faraway countries, and who knows what their own raw material and supply chain issues are?
One supplier announces their website has been hacked. Another checks in periodically when he’s lucky enough to have material suddenly on hand, just in case we need it.
February’s nationwide winter storm blew out overnight shipping for weeks after. What will the ripple effect of a container ship stuck in a canal half a world away be like?
No one wants to be the bearer of bad news when a client is waiting on a project. But adjusting and adapting is one of the primary skill sets for owners of small businesses and mom and pop shops like ours.
In truth, it’s always something. If we haven’t learned by now that life in general, and business in particular, is subject to change without notice and rarely goes according to plan, we wouldn’t still be open today, and ready for the next adventure.