We were blissfully unaware what the year would bring this time last year... a Chiefs win of the SUPER BOWL!

Yes, the plague would come later but the first two weeks of January we normally have nothing to look forward to until Mother's Day. So when the Chiefs started winning, we cautiously added a few mugs to our stores. 

As the winning went from week to week, I began to take notes on what I might have ready for a win and also ordered some mugs for storage. We are not talking about thousands of mugs... but about a pallet. I make the mugs here so if the Chiefs won, I could literally walk to my office and begin production on whatever I wanted.

So the night they did win, I gave my kids some money to go to Dicks and get a shirt in the melee and I went to my office. My daughter and I stayed up until the wee hours making mugs and we got them to stores by 10 a.m. while some vendors came here to pick up even earlier. 

Then after those initial mugs went out, we went to work on round two. That minute. Because all would need restocks and we had our website orders to get out.

The win really helped my little business because later in the year, we would be shut down. All stores were dead. People were in shock. We didn't know what would be coming our way. I could see that my "shows" would be cancelling for at least the next few months.

In February then I could see what was happening in Wuhan. If you remember early on when I had those big bags, I used a vendor out of China and they were shut down. I saw some pictures of the empty highways and high rise apartment complexes filled with deceased. My vendor, who goes by the name Jack (not his real name), wrote emails saying they would be shut down for a month.

Meanwhile, still living in a fantasy world I went ahead with my trip to Hawaii. 

When I first sit down on the plane, a very sick woman coughs on me. 

We still didn't know what the symptoms of Covid were at the time. But my anxiety sure thought it did. It was hard to relax on the trip but we knew we were in for hard times when we got back. Truthfully, we had no effing idea it would be this bad. 

Anyway, Annie's Barn shut down in March and half of April. With the rest of you, we just watched what was happening, and found ourselves ill prepared for this. We only had one pack of toilet paper but that wasn't the big problem. The issue is I was scared to go into grocery stores or send anyone in my family. The morning we got back, K and I went to a grocery store and got a big order. That was the last time I would go in Price Chopper. Still haven't been. 

Jack reopened with "masks" in March ... they were the Chinese version of N95. I had no idea if they were actually helpful to wear but I bought a few, they took weeks to get here and we rationed them and handed out to the friends who did our grocery shopping.

I thought about ordering more but what if they were NOT safe? How could I know what was safe and not. We just didn't know anything. At the time, the message was that Chinese N95 were simply "dust" masks. 

All the stores closed. Our friend who worked at Lenexa Marketplace announced she was closing up -- which was a total bummer because she was in a great location. Hallmark stores were closed. Jane was closed. Everyone was hanging tight and trying to be safe.

I revised my forecast for the year to be a 1/8 of what we normally bring in - which was in fact, mostly based on the fact that we had already banked some unexpected revenue from Chiefs. I asked you to support small business on Mother's Day and my daughter and I sat down and started trying to figure out how to run the website as our main channel. 

This would be, as they say, our Pivot. From big shows and store sales to online. It would turnout to be a lifesaver to have her here.

Even then, in April... I had no idea we would take a shot at making masks. People were starting to make cloth ones but I knew I would never sew a mask. It had to be something I could make in my garage. I waited. I looked for something that was "safe" enough but decent.

And, I watched as a handful of people I knew got the virus. 

January 07, 2021 by Leanne Stowe

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