Today is Tuesday, March 24, 2020. One week ago today was St Patrick’s Day. How things have changed! Last week the shelves were empty of toilet paper. They still are, but now they’re empty of a great many other items also. We went from no groups of 500, to 100, to 50, to 10 to staying 6 feet apart in those few days. Facebook tells me that many of you will be practicing social distancing from “friends” long after the pandemic ends. Our son asked me earnestly yesterday what the stay at home order means for the homeless population. I said I didn’t know, but I do. It means nothing. And the homeless will continue to occupy this great nothing as we the people set up our tents of tribal factions. This week we are arguing about whether we should all risk personal safety to keep the economy alive. Will we trade some percentage of our older generation, our disabled and/or immunocompromised for the chance to return to the ol’ 9 to 5? Has facetime ever had such a biting double entendre?

And yet we have hope. At least some of us. Those of us lucky enough to be able to purchase two weeks of food and supplies. We are hunkered down. We’re posting on social media about our daily routines and how fortunate our pets are to have us at home during this crisis. #WFH is trending as people set up home offices in their living rooms. The weather has been perfect for this surreal experience. Bright sunshine and blue skies, green grass, birds and squirrels frolicking in the newly budding trees, and a temperature just above freezing. What a glorious scene to take in from behind the picture window in our homes. We snuggle ourselves in our little furnaces of isolation. We plant our flags on Twitter and march down the hallways of Netflix only to realize nobody knows whose side anyone is really on anymore. We’ve been staring at our phones again and will need to restart the program. “Are you really going to watch this?” I’ll ask.

Small businesses like ours are frozen. Not just our assets and accounts, but our productivity and our marketing. Our way of life. I spoke with another small biz owner that said to me, “we’ll see who the operators are shortly.” I remember this type of language when I was closing down my career in books and the local Borders location. It didn’t bode well then, but maybe I learned something. Maybe that struggle imprinted new directions on me.

And so, JuicyMelt will weather this storm. At least for the foreseeable future. We’re seeing lots of local orders that people are willing to pick up later or have delivered when possible. We are a brand-new company, having just celebrated our 6 months, and we knew winter would be tough. We planned for a bumpy road. Thank goodness. Maybe we didn’t see it getting this cratered, but we knew it would be hard. We are a brand-new company. How are legacy industries faltering in the space of a couple weeks? Sorry.

So, here’s our hope – we got into some phenomenal farmers markets in Cincinnati and Dayton this season. We have shelf stable product made under reliable, trackable and food safe manufacturing processes. We’re holding out that this is the beginning of COVID’s end. We know it’s going to peak soon and that this is a terrifying and unsettling time. But we also know what we are capable of when our backs are to the wall. I hope for all of you, for your kids and grandkids, for your mother and her mother. I hope for the homeless, the already sick and the invisible ones in our society. I’ll hope for peace and I’ll work for love. We’ll just keep breathing and see you when the time is correct. We hope to see all of you.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeffrey McElfresh
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