Unbridled
Possibilities

Business Highlight

To promote the sharing of ideas, support, hope, and recovery, we’ll be highlighting a different Stony Plain businesses’ pandemic story every month. What has worked, what hasn’t, and how they’re managing. If you’d like to share your business’s pandemic story, please email our team at ecdev@stonyplain.com.


All or Something – Our COVID Story

Written by: Kyla Tetley, Whimsical Vintage Creations

 

I’m an “all-in” type of person. I’m also a firm believer in “all or something.” It’s what I teach my kids. It’s the mantra I chant to myself when I can’t possibly accomplish all that is in front of me.

 

To me, it speaks of grace, acceptance of limitations, motivation to move forward, even if the movement is small or seemingly undetectable. It means recognizing the efforts of others, in all their forms.

 

Business-wise, the last quarter of 2019 was really slow for us. I was excited for 2020. I had big plans to revamp some areas, introduce new products, and invite in more local creators, but as the reports of COVID and anticipation of store closures grew, sales slowed even more and my optimism diminished.

 

I started wondering if it was worth it. What would happen if we had to close? What would happen to my staff? What would happen to my vendors?

″As a family business, the implications were huge. When I heard we were shut down. I took a deep breath. Had a good cry and decided to sit with it.”

Realizing we could offer curb-side pick-up and deliveries we jumped into action. Before a full 24 hours had passed, we offered a half-price sign sale while the shutdown lasted. Our once busy class space was now a full-time sign making, wrapping, shipping and delivery staging area.

 

Family members from our household stepped in. We worked around the clock in shifts. The community rallied around us and so many small businesses were abundantly blessed, not just by sales but by the knowledge that people cared, that we were seen and that our community was working as hard to support us as we were working to connect with them.

 

As a business whose primary focus had been on creative pursuits, workshops, private parties and catering to organizations using our class space for enrichment activities, the thought of reopening without the availability to continue as we had been was daunting. When I first opened in our very small space, I had the thought that one day we would offer so much more. More local vendors, more locally produced foods, clothing, linens and sustainability products. We had an opportunity to exercise faith in the future by choosing this as a time to expand and grow, but it was intimidating. I was apprehensive.

 

One day my wise and precocious 13-year-old said,

I know it’s COVID and everything has changed, but what if people were willing to live the life they have right now as if it were the life they chose. How much would that change their attitude and the choices they make?”

That resonated in my soul. I chose to take the time and make the leap. We increased our foods area with products from amazing local creators who were without markets to sell at. We opened our empty class space free of charge to set up weekend mini markets as well as local pop-ups, to allow local small businesses, who, due to restrictions, were limited in where they could sell. The fee was encouraging people to promote each other and share all vendors weekly on social media.

 

Eventually, we started charging a small amount for the businesses to set up. Word spread, applications were abundant. We reached out to and started hosting a food truck in our parking lot. We moved away from in-store creative opportunities and moved the class supplies online. We quadrupled our number of vendors and small wholesalers. If there was a demand for a product that didn’t seem to have much availability, I reached out to individuals selling on buy and sell sites and offered to help them grow their business. They had to be committed, keep up with my orders, do high-quality work and be able to restock us fast. The people who responded did exceptionally well.

“We donated at every opportunity, collaborated with other businesses, and used social media relentlessly.”

The overarching philosophy of this business has always been to make meaningful connections with customers, create opportunities for creators, foster a spirit of collaboration and creativity and above all, bring joy. Kindness and a place of connection were increasingly what we felt customers were looking for. We were honoured to strive to provide it.

 

Recently we added a children’s boutique, choosing small wholesalers and local creators who focus on natural fabrics and uplifting messages. Our long-planned sustainability section and refill station were also revealed in February with local creators making the refill products we sell.

“Grow. Change. Adapt. Hope. Believe. Work.”

Every day I wonder what is coming. I have pivoted in this business so much this year that I wonder what it will be in a month or a year. Thanks to my truly amazing staff, family, vendors and customers, we are still here. Still feeling optimistic. I have let go of any and all expectations other than to do what can be done every single day. And to do it the very best we can. With hard work and a lot of love.

 

2021… what will it be?! I can’t say, but we will be here doing all or something to meet the challenge.



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UNbridled
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