When a customer approached me with this idea back when I mentioned that I thought I needed to close the shop to encourage people to stay home and be safe, I said that I really wasn't sure that my business would survive this. Business has changed the past couple of years and this has impacted my bottom line significantly and I was already wondering if small businesses like mine were even relevant anymore. It seems that we the consumer are almost overwhelmed with options and when the world is at our fingertips - literally in our hands - and we think we can have everything, sometimes what a small shop offers can seem like it's not enough. To compete with the giant vertical brands that launch new product on a calendar and fill everyone's inboxes with deal after deal trains consumers to think that this is the standard. FREE shipping and deal after deal means that if you are not doing this, to some, you're doing something wrong. The reality of things like Black Friday becoming such a big part of how people consume means that the November/December revenue that has been what gets a small business through the Winter, has become significantly less able to do this. To give you some context, the first really nice weather weekend in March usually equals about 10 times the business of the last 8-12 weeks and kicks off the strong sales season of spring for a business like mine. This year, it didn't happen that way and now in what can be our biggest sales opportunity, our storefront which had been doing 93% of our revenue is closed.
You can ready what she said here:
I was feeling scared and I was so touched by her offer, that through my tears, I said yes. We launched it and I had so many people criticize me that I took it down. I realized that this was going to be so much of a bigger deal for so many people and that my small business was not very important in the greater scheme of things. I didn't want to offend anyone and I don't expect anyone or anything to "rescue me" or Save Logan & Finley. I understand that in the bigger picture, everyone needs to do what they can to support themselves and their families and so many people are affected by the financial impact of this pandemic. We all likely feel somewhat guilty when we think about how hard others are affected, and we all have to have some perspective. Myself included.
I closed the store before it was mandated, because I felt like it was the right thing to do. I kept on my employee ( who has since moved back home) and tried to keep things going with our online business and I reached out and shared with my customers that this was going to be a struggle, but I would do my best to keep things going. I have worked with the brands we stock on payment arrangements and tried to find ways to get some support for the business. Even if there is a government sponsored deferral of rent, it's a deferral and even if I were to receive the government backed loan ( there is no guarantee on getting this - many businesses have been declined and I haven't heard back yet) it's a loan.
*4/24/20 update the new rent proposal is great if landlords agree to it, but how it is proposed currently, it looks like we pay too much rent to qualify? TBD
So, I have tried really hard to keep things fun and upbeat on our social media, find ways that we can be useful and a combination of our customers generous support with orders, and gift certificates and having fun sending and receiving our surprise boxes....our expenses have actually gone up. For April, with the additional cost to put all sales through online, the added shipping costs and packaging costs our expenses have gone up by over $3000. To have sales at about 1/3 of what they would be if our storefront was open and to have all the same expenses, plus these additional expenses is our reality. It's not business as usual. We are doing our best and we will be able to likely do enough business during the closure to not go out of business, but working this hard to just pay our rent and our suppliers and not be able to actually make money - which for a business is key - will make the next steps, how we navigate our way out of it, when the time comes harder.
Looking forward - it will not be "business as usual" there will be supply chain challenges, but there will also be businesses that have had the ability to rest a little bit gearing up to be really bright and shiny to attract you when you can actually go out again. There will also be businesses that won't make it who will be liquidating. So, given that I am very interested in being one of the businesses that survives this, I am asking for you to consider helping out a little if you can.
Ways to help:
- shop if you're able & we have something you can use. We have some really fun "surprise me boxes" that are great for delivering gifts that you can't deliver yourself and they have been really well received and we can do corporate ones or personalized custom ones too
- update your wardrobe with a couple of comfortable items that you can wear right now at home, but that will translate into your regular routines well too. You can make an appointment or contact me and I can help to make sure you pick well and help with any exchanges if needed
- buy a gift card and save it until we're able to open again and come in for a special one on one, personalized shopping experience or buy one for a friend to introduce them to the shop
- buy your cleaning supplies and household supplies from us if you can and find ways to spruce up your home and enjoy some Hygge
- if you are shopping and can afford the $10 flat fee for shipping, don't enter the free shipping code when you check out. Shipping these days is roughly $15-20/package so we would love to share this cost, but ideally not continue to pay it all. You can help cut this expense in half.
- like and share our posts, post about businesses you like and share your experiences in reviews and social sharing to help other people find businesses that could use their support
- if you are able, decide an amount that makes sense and contribute to our "future opportunity fund" to help us not get into a tough spot we are unable to get out of and contribute to our Go Fund Me page. You can keep it anonymous if you prefer and even a small donation adds up to helping us plan for the future.
- If you have already done any/ all of the above - please know that I am so incredibly appreciative of your support and generosity. THANK YOU!
It's hard to ask for help and I have struggled a lot with the idea of this campaign, but I ultimately decided to do it for three reasons:
Logan & Finley is an eco-conscious business just a little ahead of the curve and it's finally the time that people are interested in what we offer, so we want to be able to continue to show some leadership in the stylish and sustainable clothing for the really awesome women who want to feel good about themselves both with how they put themselves together, but also how they show up in the world. This is a time that smaller and more ethical brands need to rise up, not fall away.
"Logan & Finley is a breath of fresh air along busy Queen West. If you like to support local and environmentally friendly brands, Logan & Finley is a must-go-to. Julie does such an amazing job at curating the store to provide products that you will love and feel good about buying."
People love my little shop and the eco-conscious community that has grown out of it....so it's worth the fight!
"Best store in Toronto. Julie gets to know her customers so well that I’ve actually had family come in shopping for me and Julie has been able to make tailored recommendations based on what she knows I like. Great selection of ethically made clothing, sustainable low-waste housewares, and eco-friendly products. If you’re shopping for yourself or looking for gifts for others, Julie and the team at Logan & Finley almost certainly have something for you."
Small business is really unique. It's becoming rare to find an independent business in your neighbourhood, especially in a big city, where people know your name and know what you might like and provides personalized service. It's also a lot harder to do this in the competitive world where we have access to everything, or think we do and it's nice when a shop takes away all this noise for you and just offers up well curated product that is useful to you.
"I have been coming here for over 5 years and I have never been disappointed. I now get almost all my clothes here. Julie works hard to provide a great selection of eco-friendly, sustainable products. A wardrobe built by products from Logan and Finley is one that is full of possibilities. Do check out other products such as skincare, home care and kitchen essentials, all sustainable. I cannot rave enough about this great store you have to check it out, and you also will be amazed."
I commented in this article that I find people very interested to support small business as a concept, but some of the micro ones, the ones that people say are falling through the cracks are often the ones that people will miss the most if they aren't able to make it. So now is the opportunity to do what we can to try and invest in our local communities in the way that we can to give the kinds of brands we like some help to keep going. I am cautiously optimistic about Logan & Finley and am committed to working hard to navigate my business through this and wanted to share my candid thoughts with the hope that it might help others to know our realities and that maybe we can emerge out of this pandemic with continued kindness, generosity and as better more conscious consumers & in case it helps anyone else. In every community there is a little shop like mine with passionate owners and loyal customers and these are a unique breed that I hope others agree are important parts of our neighbourhoods. I've concluded that I think small businesses are even more relevant than ever before and what we offer is of value. Not everything can be done online. The personal touch matters.
I'm Julie Skirving and Logan & Finley is my business and if you want to learn more, here's your opportunity! About us