The past two years have offered up many situations that I never expected to encounter. From a worldwide pandemic to a nationwide lockdown, our schools being closed, to people hoarding toilet paper, it all is a bit of a shock and things I never thought I would see in my lifetime. Another scenario I am shocked to be witnessing is the closing of so many brick-and-mortar stores. I am an avid shopper. I love the shopping experience, wandering the stores, looking at displays, taking inspiration from hands-on shopping. I enjoy touching fabrics, seeing the quality of goods, smelling the products offered, and comparing items for purchase. Shopping is an enjoyable pass time for me.
It saddens me to walk the local mall and see so many stores vacant and boarded up. The mall used to be the center of the community’s social life. Friday and Saturday night, the mall was the place to be. There was an arcade, a movie theatre, a pizza shop, an ice cream shop, and a store for every size, style, and taste. The food court was the place to be seen and sit and hang out with one’s friends. Sunday’s after church, my family, grandparents, uncles, and their families would go out to lunch. Often, we went to York Steakhouse, located in the mall. A mall is a place of happy memories for me. Sadly, the mall itself is soon to be just a memory.
If one is to look back over time, there is a cycle of trending shopping and lifestyle. Before the malls existed, there were mom-and-pop stores on the main street of every small town. From hardware stores to dress shops, drug stores to soda fountains, the main street used to be THE place. The malls put those places out of business. I can remember my parents lamenting about the destruction of downtown and the sadness over the vacant buildings. I’m sure the closing of downtown was a shock and an event they never thought they would see.
Time moves forward; trends change, lifestyles adapt and adjust to those trends. Now, we see everything moving to online sales. Everything we want, need, or can imagine is just a click away. Companies make sales and return almost effortless. There is no need for sales employees, no overhead, no stock to display. Shopping is now about convenience. We can order and send a gift without the need to go to the store. We can sit in the comfort of our home, in our pj’s without a bra at midnight, and take care of all our shopping with one click. The pandemic has even changed grocery shopping for many of us. We no longer need to go into the store to purchase our goods. We simply fill our online cart and pick up our order in the parking lot. Some love it, some hate it, but there is no denying it is more convenient.
As a small company, our focus is on online sales. It is more cost-effective for us to focus our energy on online sales than maintaining a brick-and-mortar store. We can work together to create ads, social media posts, and emails rather than manage the staffing of a sales team. We can work together to make our products, care for our goats, and pack our orders without a vast staff, various buildings, and the cost of maintaining said structures. For us, it is doing what we love in the place we love without having to leave.
Although I love our online business, and it makes sense for us, part of me desires a brick-and-mortar store. A part of me craves social interaction, talking with people, creating displays, speaking face-to-face about the benefits of my products. I can visualize a small storefront here on the farm. I imagine the design and layout of my retail space. I have great ideas for displaying my products and can imagine an educational area, a workroom visible from the retail space where people can witness the soap-making process. I can imagine a space for goat yoga, soap-making workshops, and a small eatery including farm-to-table options and featuring The Bibbed Wonder’s prized heirloom pork products. I, too, can imagine a small inn or bed and breakfast where families can come to spend a weekend and experience farm life, milking goats and making soap.
For now, we will continue with our focus on providing a fresh, natural skincare option to those who desire such and have it available at the click of a button. It takes a lot of energy to get one bib overall wearing wonder buns on board with all my ideas. I have to work slowly and methodically and wear him down over time. I’m not sure I have enough time to wear him down on all my grand ideas, but I will give it my best effort…insert wink.
As always, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, come to see us in person this weekend; it’s one of the few times we will be in person, and keep washing your hands.