I am a member of a rather large regional network of boutique owners. We discuss things daily. I travel to meet them, visit their stores and brainstorm solutions to challenges we all face.
Challenges is putting it lightly, very lightly. Currently we are staring down the barrel of a complete supply disruption. I just finished a web meeting unlike any I have done in 8 years. Successful, creative-astonishingly impressive women were tearful, downtrodden and discouraged.
What did I do? What any deeply Southern, hard-headed, anti-social, social butterfly does.
I burst into uncontrollable laughter. Awkwardness is part of my charm you see. While all were piercing at me through their computer screens both with astonishment and disdain, I lost the battle of the giggles. I pleaded with them to humor me (no pun intended) as I explained my unique position.
Yes, all pundits, professionals and people with unusually perfect hair are proclaiming coronavirus to be the death of retail, especially small business. Yes, daily we get phone calls, emails etc explaining to us that factories have closed, shipments are 'basically lost' and paid for inventory is never coming.
Surely, this is it. The fat lady is singing. Go ahead and schedule the casserole delivery. Right? No mam. Keep that Tupperware contained, it is not needed here.
I am not a hero. I am not a superwoman. I am not a fortune teller. I am a cockroach. I know this for certain. I have been stomped, swatted, flushed and even had my legs knocked right out from under me several times.
Yet, here I am. I can't be run off all that easily. Amazon tried. 423,889 online boutiques with no overhead, no quality and no commitment to service tried. Hell, Mother Nature Even spun me, tossed me, froze me and put me under water. I am still here.
Apparently I only entertain careers that have absolutely no chance to thrive. When I joined the empty ranks of real estate, even my momma thought I had lost my mind. I joined during the toughest recession in recent history. Foreclosures were the new black and bankruptcy was the new skinny. I had zero chance of succeeding. Yet I did. I am still here.
Success comes from within, not from lack of bad luck, bad days, tough years or unexpected chaos. It is a stain. It can't easily be wiped away from a cloth of common inconvenience .
I smiled at them all, told them to get it together. Retail has been public enemy number one for as long as I can remember. Yet, we are still here.
We are cockroaches. Romantic right? Maybe not, but I would rather be a cockroach than a dinosaur. We all know how that ended.
As long as I offer a quality product, excellent service and enough sense of humor to laugh at my predisposition towards the impossible, a little 'end of the world' isn't going to do much to me.
My fellow boutique owners joined me in laughter, wiped their eyes and decided to get back to work.
We are going to wash our face, wash our hands and continue to give the world something to kill.