Working In A Pandemic With Local Business Owner, Kevin Petty
Most of us know at least one or two people personally who run a small business in Saskatoon. Without question 2020 has been tough for people who have had their livelihood turned upside down. We thought to start 2021 we’d do a bit of a review with one of our producers to look back on the past year and hear about their experience working through a pandemic filled year. Kevin Petty from Saskatoon Spruce was nice enough to sit down and have a chat with us about how last year went for him.
Gabe: Hey Kevin, how are you?
Kevin: I'm doing well. How are you doing Gabe?
Gabe: Oh, not too bad. Thanks for taking some time to chat today! Normally in these talks we’ve been asking questions that helps our readers get to know the producers we have on board, but this time I thought it might be better to see what it was like for a local business to operate during COVID in the last year if that sounds good.
Kevin: Yeah. Good idea.
Gabe: So other than just the added stress that came with COVID and the lockdowns, what was the biggest impact it had on you?
Kevin: The biggest challenge for me was losing the in person sales from places like the farmer's market. A lot of my sales came from there and things like Christmas shows, like Sundog in Regina. So with those being canceled I had to figure out a way to make up for that huge amount of sales.
Gabe: Anything else that was a challenge?
Kevin: More frustration than a challenge but with the government money that was available. Like if you were forced to shut down you qualified but if you were still operating there wasn’t as much so just some frustration over the confusion for what I qualified for.
Gabe: Ya, and I know for people that were laid off it was just as confusing too.
Kevin: Yeah. It was most of the same stuff.
Gabe: Was there anything you tried to do to combat the loss of sales from those big shows?
Kevin: Yeah, I set up direct sales on my website and did deliveries of my Christmas gift boxes all over the city. So a lot of work, but I had to kind of adapt.
Gabe: That seems like it was the motto for everyone.
Kevin: Yeah, and then there was like a buy local movement and a little uptick in my in my sales at different stores and such, so seeing that movement happening that also helped my sales.
Gabe: That’s great to hear, and hopefully that doesn’t go away. How about in your production, was there any impact there?
Kevin: No, nothing on that side of things, so that was good.
Gabe: Definitely. So it seems like back in the spring when we first went into a lockdown there was a big uptick in people buying locally and ordering delivery and now that we’re kind of back into a “normal” routine things have kind of levelled out, did you notice anything like that?
Kevin: What I noticed was when we were full lockdown in March there was a huge uptick in online sales, mostly through the farmer's market. It was nuts. So all of us were volunteering to fill all those orders every weekend for the farmer's market. So it was like nutty online sales for a bit, and everyone was kind of going nuts on groceries like they were preparing for the apocalypse. And then, yeah, it kind of calmed down again.
Gabe: Yeah it seemed like we were all running around with our heads cut off for a bit. It seems like this whole pandemic has made a lot of businesses rethink their plans for the future and be prepared for something like this to happen again. Is there anything you’ve thought about changing?
Kevin: It's kind of a hard one to answer. Honestly not a lot has changed for me other than figuring out how to make up for sales.
Gabe: Hey that's something to be happy about. Sure you were impacted, but didn’t have to really make any big changes. Well I think it’d be good to end on a happy note like that. But before I let you go we like to end with a message for the people of Saskatoon if you have anything you’d like to say.
Kevin: Well, just to thank you for that support local movement cause it helped get me through for sure. Like I really felt it and in those hard times, or when you're trying to find revenue and that kind of pulled us through.
Gabe: That’s great to hear Kevin. Well, thanks for thanks for your time again today, I’ll let you get back to it.
Kevin: Thanks for having me on!