The question on every business owner's mind is if they are going to be able to stay open or not? The sad truth is that many of the small businesses around the United States are going to shut down. The sad truth is that many companies are going to lose everything. The sad truth is that people are losing their lives to a silent killer. The sad truth is that the suicide, domestic violence and murder rate in America is going to rise. The sad truth is that it took a virus to cripple our economy in a matter of weeks. The sad truth is that the world has changed.
As I am sitting in my office, writing this blog, I am stressed. I am stressed about my business, I am stressed about the businesses around me and I am stressed for my industry. The idea of even writing this blog makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me sick to think of the generations of men that may never know the experience of going into a men's store with their dad, and being fitted for their first suit in the same store that his dad got his first suit. It makes me sick to think of the couple that wanted to go back to the restaurant where they had their first date, only to see that it has been closed.
Is this virus serious? YES, people are dying daily from it. Will businesses ever bounce back from this? YES. Throughout this entire ordeal there have been days that I want to just lay in bed and not even move. There have been days where I have wanted to cry. There have been days where I have been in awe at the support we have had. And, with each passing day (even the good days), it gets harder to operate the business myself and Rick Coffee have devoted everything to. It gets harder to survive and it gets harder to understand. But, its our customers that keep us going.
Throughout this ordeal, we have seen so many amazing acts of kindness. One of my most favorite acts of kindness in this process has to be this story. I had a customer, a local restaurateur, come into my store and ask for a gift card. I gladly wrote it for him, took his money and stood with appreciation as I handed him the gift card (it had been the only sale of the day and this was at 4:00PM). He took the gift card from my hand and ripped it to pieces. I said, "What are you doing?" His reply brought tears to my eyes. He stated, "You all have supported us and I wanted to do something for you." Moments like these are happening people. Moments like these are what keeps me coming to an empty store day after day. It's moments like these that make us feel appreciated.
The point of this blog has shifted (if you can't tell), from one of sadness to one of strength. I believe that we will get through this. I believe that my industry and my business and my family and my country will come out stronger and more willing to help others than ever before. I believe that we can all come out of this, if we work together. SMALL BUSINESSES NEED YOUR HELP! Most small business owners take so much pride in their work that they would NEVER be one to ask for help, but let me do it for them as well as for us. IF you want to see the small businesses of your community survive, IF you want to have somewhere to take your friends and family and tell stories of the times you've had there, IF you want to continue to see your local economy grow and not be run by "BIG" business, SHOP SMALL BUSINESS. WE NEED YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER!
-James R. Bower Jr.