We opened up the other day about what treading this uncharted territory feels like. It’s terrifying, honestly. The uncertainty leaves us feeling lost, unsure of what the future of our business will look like. This is an unprecedented, scary time in our history; something none of us were expecting. We are all anxious and feel blindsided, the floor sinking beneath us; ready to give out at any moment.
On top of it all, our systems and our understanding of reality are starting to slip away. It’s difficult to stay on track with what feels like a dark cloud looming over us. I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way right now.
To all of our friends and colleagues who run local, small businesses; to anyone who made the devastating decision to close their doors this past week – we are heartbroken for you.
The truth is: it’s frightening for us, for anyone to continue to operate in these circumstances. There are a lot of unknowns right now, and that’s what scares us the most. We’re pivoting when needed; open to evolve and shift the way we do things to keep our staff and customers safe. To keep our business running smoothly. Our livelihood is at stake, along with the livelihood of our small but mighty team of eight!
It goes without saying that we’ve all been having an intense week; we’re really, really feeling it over here at the Schoolhouse. We are working to keep up with the demand from retailers, hospitals and nursing homes that are staying open for the time being. They continue to show up for you; to source fresh food and products to help you stock your pantries, fridges and freezers.
Thank goodness that we had the foresight more than a year ago to start our online shop. It has been running smoothly ever since and we are thankful that we can do our part to get products delivered right to your door.
Our digital glitches are thankfully, all worked out. Needless to say, we have NEVER done as many online orders as we did last week; but our system was a champion and it all worked. We continue to get new online orders for next week, and we’ll keep showing up to ensure you get what you need.
We also ensured to put forth new cleaning standards and exclusionary procedures in the case that any of our staff fall ill. All of our staff members are taking social distancing seriously; coming to work and spending time at home between shifts.
If any staff member shows signs of COVID-19, we will stop production immediately and that staff member will stay home to self-isolate after being tested. We will then await results before deciding if we can continue operations.
We wash our hands, change our gloves and clean/sanitize all surfaces after every single task. These practices have been in place from the very beginning. Your safety has always been our #1 priority. This is the Schoolhouse difference.
With all of those measures in place – the most terrifying part of this situation? We may have to stop production, to shut our doors down like so many other local businesses have had to do. Not because of a lack of demand, but rather as a result of not being able to afford to buy the ingredients we need to produce your gluten-free favourites.
It’s completely understandable that 90% of our wholesale clients may be unable to pay us for invoices that are due or coming due. This is a situation that none of us were able to prepare for, none of us saw coming. Our colleagues, who also happen to be our friends, are trying their best to pay us. Of course they want to be able to, but in most cases, the situation is out of their control.
Losing 90 of our 120 clients in four days hit us hard – and now we’re fearful for how many will have no choice but to step back by next week.
We’re making it work for now. We are extremely proud of and grateful for our team; and your support makes it possible for us to keep on carrying on. In fact, so many of you have reached out showing concern about our small business and for our family. Thank you for taking the time to connect – it truly warms our hearts. We feel loved. And we love you all, too. Our business is what it is today because of your continued support.
We may be hanging on by a thread as a business, but we are doing our best to stay positive and present. We will stand strong. I feel confident we will get through next week. After that, we’ll re-evaluate. To see what our new normal looks like. To figure out if/how we can operate within it.
We will do our absolute best to continue showing up for our staff and for you – our friends, our loyal customers. Do you know any gluten-free folks struggling financially that need access to fresh food that simply can’t afford it right now? Please let us know. We want to do what we can to support the community in the best way we know how.
On the home front, we are struggling. But we’re okay for now. Many of you may not know this, but Aidan tore his ACL and meniscus in his knee about a month ago. He has been on crutches and has been down for the count. Luckily, he is scheduled to have surgery at the end of next week – pandemic dependent, of course. His surgery has been classified as essential at this point, so we will move forward with it.
On top of his injuries, Aidan has had a tough week taking care of the girls full-time; while I work beyond full-time at the Schoolhouse. Aidan and I text all day long problem-solving together, and then we cross paths when I get home. We show our love and support for one another in that moment. Thank each other for showing up. From there, the girls and I tuck him into bed as he passes out from exhaustion and I take over the evening shift.
This is our reality, and we are managing. The girls continue to become more independent; more helpful with each passing day. They make their own juices in our Vitamix, and one pot meals on the stove together with daddy. Imagination play, art and freeze dance (with DJ Dad picking the tunes) are their favourite activities, hands down. We are certainly grateful for the fact that we are all healthy. That we are all safe. At the end of the day, we’re grateful to have what we have.
We’ll get through this, everyone. Stay strong.
In health and happiness,
Jen, Aidan, Asha & Sadie