COVID – to close or not to close

Mokono COVID-19, Small Business Leave a Comment

If you are in a state that did not mandate closings, do you close or do you stay open? Well, for us and most small businesses during this time, it is an easy decision. Do you have the sales to stay open, or do your sales answer that question for you?

For us, we were not ordered closed by the state, but sales dropped to nearly nonexistent during the week of March 15th, 2020 so we immediately let all staff go and decided to close the front door and only sell items out of the back door by ‘curbside’ so that we did not have people in the store and have to clean up after every person came through the store.

This sounds a bit crazy now, but during March and April, our great government minds were telling everyone that this virus could live on anything and everything. It could live on boxes you ordered online, it could live on your groceries… everything for days… and then you would likely die.

We need to add some context around the March 15th date so you can understand exactly what was going on in our lives to fully understand this decision.

We don’t really care what other people think about our morals and values.

Boyd Tiffin

As of March 25th:

  • We are currently under contract for ~30 acres of land
  • We are weeks from closing on the above land and starting construction on a 25 Million dollar commercial project on the land
  • This 3 phase project will run ~70 Million before it is complete, we have everything ready to go and have already spent a considerable amount of money with architects, engineers, surveys etc… well into 6 figures.
  • We plan to open our second location for our furniture store in September (our flagship location at 30k sqft).

Year over year sales are up nearly 40% so far and it certainly feels like we are being actively blessed everyday. Now when the week of March 15th 2020 ends, we are having conversations about laying staff off quick because the media is screaming for everyone to stay home and all business should be shut down.

We can read the writing on the wall and since we do not want to bankrupt ourselves, we decide to lay off all staff except one. Next step, what other expenses can we lower or eliminate from our monthly costs?

  • Insurance, nope…
  • Trash pickup, nope…
  • New merchandise, nothing on the way and now we aren’t ordering either.
  • Payroll, done.
  • Utilities, nope.
  • Rent, nope.

Ok, so payroll is really the only expense that we have control over. We could certainly call and cry to other companies to see if they will reduce our bills but we believe we should pay for the services that we order and use. We know that not everyone believes that, but we don’t really care what other people think about our morals and values.

Now what? We are not being mandated to close, we need to continue to make money but we need to navigate the social issues and not piss off the large crowds that are boycotting and protesting places like Hobby Lobby (across the street from us)… ugh…

We decided to close the front door and put up a sign that said you could make an appointment and shop as normal. We then stepped up our Facebook Live videos and social media outreach and sold items out of the backdoor by offering curbside pickup and over the phone payments. So ultimately we did not technically close, we just pivoted our business model for about 4 weeks and sold continued to make enough to pay our bills, rent, insurance and utilities.

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