The Massive Move
Fortunately for me, the management at the market knew my predicament and organized a crew to assist with moving all of the JamBusters! and Watkins products and everything else we had in the Yellow Room to a new location in the Main Building of the market. George and I had discussed the week before whether or not we would continue to vend in that venue or seek new opportunities but when space became available in the building we decided to stay.
With assurances that there would be enough hands and vehicles to take everything from one end of the four-building structure to the other, I was able to relax. It also meant that I would be leaving George home alone which had me concerned but based on the progress he was making, I thought he could manage. So, I spent most of June 3 at the market as everything got moved into a tiny 10-by-10 space. It looked horrible after we were done as nothing was set up – I would do that at a later date. Plus, at the time, there was still no word on when the market was going to reopen, which meant we had some time.
The Reopening Plan
Within a week of the move, the news was shared with us of a proposed reopening of the Oliver Indoor Flea Market set for the weekend of June 20 or 27. Several COVID-19 protocols had to be implemented and the market management team changed as well. Both George and I went to Oliver on June 13 and spent some time with the building landlord and new manager to find out more. We also were presented with a bigger, better vending location that both of us liked.
I went back to Oliver on June 18 and worked on moving all the JamBusters! and Watkins product and booth extras from the 10-by-10 space in the back of the Main Building to our new-new location in the front of the structure. I had help, which made it go much quicker. Two days later I made another solo run to Oliver to load the new booth up with all of the Watkins products I had been storing at home after the market closure in May.
Then on June 24, George came with me as I straightened up the new booth and made it functional. In total, I made five trips to the market this month to get ready. The opening date became Saturday, June 27, 2020, and our JamBusters!/Watkins booth was about 95% ready to go. When the morning rolled around, George was not doing well with foot problems and chose to stay home. I vended for 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM that day – the first time since March 21.
George Made It On Sunday
Sales for the first day were excellent. The new manager had implemented many COVID-19 compliant protocols including a hand sanitizing station at the entrance, arrows taped to the floor to direct traffic one way in and one way out. Aisles were marked at 6-feet wide, physical distancing tape marks noted 6-feet distances, and the number of people on-site at any given time was tracked and totaled. I was pretty impressed with the changes.
George was able to make it to the market for the second day (Sunday, June 28, 2020) and although he was beat by the time it was all over, he helped me out along with the new manager with simple tasks that didn’t require a lot of energy on his part. The final tally for the weekend saw over 600 people pass through the main entrance over the two days. We had a 25 jar weekend but sold much more in Watkins product which pleased us a great deal.
The reality of the coronavirus hit us hard when the Oliver Indoor Flea Market closed. We thought it would be a short closure of about 6-weeks. Instead, it was closed for a total of 14-weeks or 28 vending days. Our home-based business lost thousands of dollars as a result but fared well compared to many other businesses out there that either have closed permanently or are on the edge of bankruptcy or some other negative fate.
Neither of us lost our jobs in the wake of COVID-19. Yes, my JamBusters! and Watkins businesses were dormant, but we were not employees who got cut from payrolls as small business owners tried to navigate the losses they were experiencing. We also knew that the market would eventually reopen. With George’s health issues happening when they did, the market closure could not have happened at a better time for us.
Had the market remained open, I would have probably closed our booth indefinitely and stayed home to look after George until he was well enough that I could leave him home alone. We know we have been blessed through this pandemic in that we can restart our business and pick up where we left off. We are fully aware that this is not the case for all entrepreneurs out there. Good luck to those considering a reopening plan.
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