dear small business owners, part 1: The JG small business survival plan during COVID-19

April 15, 2020

A lot has changed over the past 4 weeks. And by “a lot” we mean EVERYTHING. Literally, EVERY DAMN THING. The world has been shaken to it’s core. Hundreds of thousands of people have become sick or lost their lives or their loved ones, and millions have lost their jobs, their businesses, their income.

Amidst all of the horrifying statistics, the isolation, the shelter-in-place orders, and the lack of essential goods, there is another reality … will small businesses survive? The backbone, the lifeblood, the free enterprise system this country was founded on.

And to us, this is a resounding yes. And here’s why … small business owners are fighters, they are warriors. They created their business on a dream and it’s that dream that will remind them in times like these that it is worth fighting for. Self-employment is not for the faint of heart … nobody ever said “I’m going to start my own business because it seems like it would be really easy”. NO ONE. You started your business with a fighter mentality, don’t forget that. Now is the time to dig deep.

There will be casualties. All will not survive. The fallout may last for months, years.

We’ve been asked by many what we’re doing to survive these times … we are no experts and even though we’ve been at this JG gig for over 20 years, these are unprecedented times and times like these call for an entirely different strategy. Here’s a little recap of what we’ve done…

Week 1: Texas Antiques Week, a 3 week-long event that brings in a HUGE amount of our revenue for the year was shut down. This means not only were we out that revenue, but we also had truckloads of merchandise in house to prepare for this 3 week long event. We closed our store and our inn in order to keep our employees, our community and our family safe. Store employees instantly went from getting significant overtime during this event to getting zero hours. We immediately reached out to Texas Workforce Commission as we didn’t want anyone to miss a paycheck and filed a Mass Claim … this DOES NOT mean anyone was laid off, employees are eligible if they have had a reduction in hours. This seemed like the perfect temporary option in order to keep our employees receiving a paycheck until we could figure out the upcoming weeks. By filing the Mass Claim as an employer, it streamlined the process and skipped a great deal of leg work for them that would normally be required. We held a FaceTime call with everyone and explained these steps and what to expect next.

Fired ourselves – that’s right, the first thing we did was cancel our own paychecks. Money in the bank is top priority.

Evaluate all expenses … get rid of any that aren’t necessary. We immediately canceled all unnecessary expenses. Every penny counts. At week 1, we had no idea how long (and we still don’t) this would last … so EVERY single expense we could eliminate, we did. Big or small. Do we really need that extra dumpster? Nope.

Reduce inventory – We immediately reached out to all vendors and either canceled orders, reduced orders, or put them on hold in an effort to reduce inventory. Everyone was understanding as they were in the same situation and know that we will come back ten-fold as soon as we can. You CANNOT accept orders for merchandise when your store is closed for business indefinitely. Very few exceptions here.

Week 2: We began researching as many grants/loans as possible. The government DOES want to help small businesses through this. They DO NOT want to deal with millions of unemployment claims … many of these government-based grants are a win-win for everyone. Also if you are a woman-owned business, there may be specific ones geared just to you!

Some good ones to check out:

Helpful links:

Also, reach out to your bookkeeper/accountant as soon as possible. Ours had knowledge and access to a grant that we weren’t aware of that she was able to submit on our behalf.

You may be able to file an insurance claim on loss of profit. Contact your insurance provider and research this option.

Very importantly, maintain a good relationship with your banker … he or she could be your best friend through helping with the PPP as you apply through your bank.

Week 2 is also when we started the most important step we have taken – and this step is ongoing and honestly we should all have been doing this all along but it took a pandemic to force us to do it: Re-evaluate your business model. How can you re-invent? How can you pivot? USE THIS CHALLENGE to become more creative in your business. Change your model. Modify your model. Stretch your model. Use this challenge as an OPPORTUNITY to create a new branch to your business. Where is there a need? What can you do? What can your business offer? What do people need now?

We’re not talking about arts and crafts creativity here (although that might be something to incorporate). We’re talking about thinking about your business in creative ways.

CHALLENGE FORCES CREATIVITY

THE MOST CREATIVE ONES WIN

COLLABORATE

BE OPEN TO CHANGE

ABOVE ALL, BE COMPASSIONATE

In a business like ours, we’ve been lucky enough to build amazing relationships with our customers over the past 20 years. The same people that are the reason we couldn’t sell our soul and do a reality show filled with controversy 7 years ago are the ones that support us now. The ones that are there giving us high fives and little cups of water as we run this marathon. It is a marathon. Small business owners, entrepreneurs … you are running a marathon and right now, you may want to quit the race. You may be on the longest uphill stretch of your life BUT don’t give up. When the going gets tough, the TOUGH GETS GOING.

Back to the questions above and what our specific answers were to these questions:

  • Where is there a need? We can’t provide ventilators or volunteer our time at the hospital but there is a need for positivity, for good news, for an escape from the dire numbers on the TV. WE CAN DO THAT.
  • What can you do? We can promote other small businesses that we wholesale from. We can bring people happy feelings through Bob Ross painting live with us, through chatting with people on instagram live weekly/daily. Through having a virtual prom, a virtual flea market. WE CAN DO THAT.
  • What can your business offer? We can offer huge sales online and still offer stellar customer service … sometimes, talking to a real human versus an automated bot might lift someone’s spirits. WE CAN DO THAT.
  • What do people need now? They need a break from anxiety. They may need a box o’ happy. They may need Willie’s Remedy CBD oil … WE CAN DO THAT.

What have we done? We’ve created new product offerings online. We figured out ways to load much of our new merch we had for the canceled event without having a photoshoot. We’ve ramped up social media exponentially. From instagram lives to YouTube … you name it, this time away from the office has actually been conducive to creating creative content for our social outlets.

In the beginning, we truly expected online sales to drop to ZERO. During this time, we started receiving requests/suggestions from all of you. One of the requests was to offer a Quarantine Kit … we loved this idea and we called it our hand picked box o’ happy. We didn’t really know if ANY would sell … we offered them at nearly half off their retail value. And guess what? They sold out in less than 24 hours! We offered a limited number again the next week, SOLD OUT AGAIN. And then offered more this past week … SOLD OUT AGAIN. Because we were OPEN to CHANGE and we were rethinking the JG model, we discovered something that people wanted to get their hands on.

Junk-O-Rama Prom was canceled with Texas Antiques Week so we hosted a virtual Junk-O-Rama Prom

over 7K people joined in the fun! Who knew?

We’re currently super excited about several projects in the works that will help fellow small businesses … it will feature small business owners, makers, junkers, and artists … because we do believe sunnier days are ahead.

The way we look at it is that this situation is day by day. We’re going to do what we can TODAY and this week and then next week we may have to do something completely different. Because there is no manual for how to handle the current economic situation as a small business. Day by day. And truly, we really are all in this together. Now, more than ever let’s all join hands and help each other out.

Collaboration, Creativity, Compassion, and be open to Change.

Let us know what you’re doing by commenting below … or please share any resources you may have to help out a fellow small business owner! 💪

Read HERE for part 2!

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49 Comments

  • Reply D'arby Rose April 15, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    This is awesome. Going to share around with folks out here in CA. Thank you for sharing this, it’s so helpful! I know y’all are going to pull through. Sending you SO MUCH love. xo

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      D’arby!!! thanks so much for the comment and for sharing!!! big love to you!!! XOXXO!

  • Reply Ruthann Jagge April 15, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    Always upbeat and positive, you’ve got some great ideas here! Will share and here’s to the best yet to come!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      thanks so much for sharing! would love to help spread some positivity right now!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      absolutely!!

    • Reply Wendi April 15, 2020 at 7:46 pm

      Wow! You are always such an inspiration! I have been a huge fan for years. I have a small retail store in Columbus,MT. and very much appreciate you sharing! Such great advice!
      With much gratitude!
      Love from Montana!

      • Reply Jolie Sikes April 16, 2020 at 9:05 am

        hang in there … we can do this!!!

  • Reply Christine Leviton April 15, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    Thank you girls! for such encouragement and helpful info!! Well thought out. no question that you two are go getters from the get go!!
    So appreciated

  • Reply Kathleen Y'Barbo Turner April 15, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    This just plain rocks. I’m working from home right now because the legal field, while “essential” is moving at a snail’s pace because courts are having to figure out new ways to hear cases. I’ve got a book due, May 1, so the extra time is welcome. However, I’m watching friends hustle to try and stay afloat and that’s killing me. Buying local, supporting small business, helping someone brainstorm and out-of-the-box direction to go with a business? We can do those things. Can’t get your hair or nails done? Call them and ask if you can buy a gift certificate to use later. They need operating cash, and eventually we are all going to need to get our quarantine hair and nails handled. Memo to self: do not cut bangs! But I digress. We’re all in this together. Gypsy strong, ladies! God bless!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      ahhhh yes! the self bang trim! been there. done that! ha! thanks so much for the encouragement, kathleen! and can’t wait to see the new book!!!

  • Reply Deborah Kainer, CPA April 15, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Hi neighbors! Thanks for using this beautiful picture of our field of bluebonnets here in Round Top. And I must say your words of business wisdom are ever so compelling and spot-on. Using this downtime to retool, redesign, start-up, shut-down, right-size, etc. your business is VERY sound advice. And this from a 60+ year old CPA who’s seen a few disasters and recessions in her lifetime: run an efficient business in good times and it’ll get you through the bad times. Heartfelt gratitude to all you business owners out there. Hang in there!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:34 pm

      awww wow! your field is BREATHTAKING! we stopped dead in the middle of the road for this picture … so worth it. THANK YOU for having such beauty in your field on our morning commute! hopefully we’ll meet in person someday soon!

  • Reply carole sinclair April 15, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. This just oozes compassion for fellow sistah stores and just brings us all together. Such encouragement and support.
    Much love from The Farmyard Darlings, Kim & Carole

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:33 pm

      thank you for your comment! we know we can all come through this with some serious grit!!!

  • Reply Janice April 15, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    I’ve already missed 2 of my vintage markets/ handmade / junk shows this month. Who knows when we will get on the road again. I didn’t want to make mask, but when a fellow Etsy seller suggested I should, I started digging through my stash of fabric. I’ve made, sold, and donated enough mask to compensate for the show I missed last week, all from home and from my “hoarded” fabric. It’s kept me going and from wallowing in self pity. I’ll never apologize for buying random fabric at garage sales and thrift stores, even though I had no idea what I’d make with it!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:32 pm

      love this story! thanks so much for sharing!!!

  • Reply Shiloh Pettyjohn April 15, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    You guys are THE BEST! Thanks for sharing such helpful and hopeful news/advice!! You need anything from me or the team you just holler!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:24 pm

      Thanks so much, friend!!! we’re DEFINITELY in this together! XO!

  • Reply Barbara Collins April 15, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks y’all. Cheering you and all of us small business owners on. Love all the help links and tips. Much love and huge hugs. Barbara Collins. @hattiebagpurse @madreminutes

  • Reply Misty Borchert April 15, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    YOU GIRLS ROCK!!!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:23 pm

      awww shucks. Thanks so much for leaving some love!!!

  • Reply Nancy Voight April 15, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    Your blog here sharing about inspirational ideas for survival is sooo wonderful! I love jg and pray you stay around for a long, long time! Thank you so much for all your positivity and caring during these trying times!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 15, 2020 at 5:22 pm

      thank you so much!!! we so appreciate the encouragement!!! XOXO!

  • Reply Julia McSherry April 15, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    Fantastic, optimistic plan, you ARE the best. Love your slogan! Collaboration Creativity, Compassion, and be open to Change. Yes! Create opportunities! Make lemons out of lemonade! We have to all hang in there together. Heartfelt gratitude and best of luck to you and all small businesses. Large businesses too. These are challenging times for everyone. Meanwhile, we wash our hands and don’t touch our faces. And stay healthy.

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 16, 2020 at 10:25 am

      so true…tough times for everyone indeed. thanks so much for reading and for posting your thoughts! XOXOX!

  • Reply Amanda Talley April 15, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you so much for the resources, positivity, and encouragement! I think one of the best things to come out of all this is the love and support that small business owners are getting from not only their loyal customers but OTHER small business owners. We ARE all in this together.

  • Reply Charlene Tobola April 15, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    Awesome information, feeling in limbo, have merchandise, & expanding so when back to a new level of normal will be ready. Thanks for informing to available avenues to help get us through this rough spot. Think positive. We may be down, but all we can do is climb back up, & up we will go! Charlene Tobola of TinRoofDesigns

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 16, 2020 at 10:23 am

      it’s a tough time for sure! but yes, onward and upward!!

  • Reply Melinda April 15, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you!! I love so much about y’all and the family business (my dad is a retired shoe repairman in Hope, Arkansas, so I grew up working in the family shoe shop ❤️) but in your post… I especially appreciate your honesty and “transparency”… We are all going through this and trying to help others where we can. My TX and TN friends and I were supposed to make our annual trip to Antiques Week – and we always shop your store❤️- I got a great metal “While you wait boot repair” sign on the last trip 😍- so we were very disappointed everything was cancelled. Assuming you still have some, I’m going to order for me/friends your TX week t-shirt, especially bc its the year that didn’t happen…..😞. Enjoying seeing you all on social media. Stay safe!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 16, 2020 at 9:07 am

      awww … love that story about your dad! and i’m sure you know that arkansas has a special place in our hearts! i know exactly which sign you’re referring to! i love that sign!! hopefully we can all gather soon!!!

  • Reply Lee Anna Will April 15, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    This is really wonderful and inspiring info. The tenacity and stick-to-itiveness are motivational. Loving the creative ways that you are adapting your business and continuing to put positivity out into the world! Happy to support and appreciate the support your giving to lift spirits!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 16, 2020 at 9:06 am

      thank you so much!! hope you and yours are staying well and safe!

  • Reply Samantha McGinnis April 15, 2020 at 11:05 pm

    What an uplifting kick in the wranglers! Sure needed to read your message . Been a little down today, but the joy in your perspective has lightened my load. Muchas Gracias Amigas! If anyone wants a sweet respite come on over and getcha some Cowboy Toffee Company and support this ol’ Gal’s small Texas business. We sure do appreciate all y’all❤️

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 16, 2020 at 9:05 am

      so glad you liked our blog…sometimes we just need to lift each other up and remind ourselves of the kind of GRIT we’re made of! you got this!! XOXOO!

  • Reply Kristine Stables April 16, 2020 at 9:46 am

    I started a new small Home Organizing business 4 months ago. Without client work, it can feel lonely as a one woman force during this time. Thank you for nurturing this community of amazing people. Your blog and resources are spot on.

    I started out hot and fast helping clients and now I am taking this blessed time to thrive by setting up business operations, learning the marketing ropes, and absorbing all the goodness from free webinars from experts. I am also offering virtual services and just waiting for a few bites. Your inspiring words will keep me energized!

  • Reply Kat Noir April 16, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I heart ya’ll… I have never reached out but this must be said. THANK YOU… I sell on 4 apps and one consignment site. My sales dropped by about 80%, I get it, people are scared, looking for a “festival” dress is not at the top of the list right now. I am unable to source like I used to, at all. No new product… so call me crazy, I built myself a website. Yep, started a new business. Everything is dropshipped. I spent hours and days trying to find quality items. It took 70 hours finding product and another 20 or so building the site! Now I move on to marketing. I have no idea but I will figure it out.
    Your words have spurred me on, like a cool drink of water on a hot day, I didn’t know how much I needed that encouragement until I drank it down.

    Stay safe, ya’ll are my new heros!

  • Reply mary cotham April 17, 2020 at 9:44 am

    Jolie & Amie, Thank you so much for trying to keep life normal in such uncharted waters, YOU HAVE SOULS OF ANGELS! Thanks for making us laugh and appreciate all that is still good in this world. Loved the video and your special guests. Keep up the good work and the magical lifts that you spread.

    Virtual Hugs to you both, your family and great staff.
    P.S. Sending an extra tight squeeze to my friend Kelley Keen <3

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 27, 2020 at 12:45 pm

      awwww thank you SO MUCH for this post, mary!!!! not sure we could do it without y’alls positive feedback and cheering us on virtually every day!!

  • Reply Julie Iler April 17, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Thank you, I have loved watching you on television and now online. I have been trying to figure out how to get started on my own business. I have been making things for years and giving ideas to people. I have always been told I could have my own business. I don’t have any idea how about going at it. I love your ideas you shared. They are great ones.

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 27, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      thank you so much!!! best of luck to you!!!!

  • Reply Anonymous April 18, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    So sorry about Antique week! I know the whole community depends on it! You will be here forever!! You are so well loved!!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 27, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      ahhhh thank you so very much!!! we sure missed seeing everyone during the show!

  • Reply Reyne Nix April 20, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Thank you for the good info!!!!! I love the bringing positive vibes to our customers, clients, friends and anyone that looks at our page!!! We can do that!!! Also reinvent yourself, where is there a need, or what do people need! Something popped in my head right when i read that. We are a massage and skincare business in texas. So many people nervous about coming inside a building and getting on a massage table, but the Lord knows we could all use that right now!!! I don’t know if we would start crying, singing or just laughing from sheer delight!!!!!! Thanks ladies, I love everything about you! You helped me today

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 27, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      oh my gosh. LITERALLY thie frist thing i will do when QT is over, is GET A MASSAGE! i’m DYING for one! folks are going to flock back to your spa!!!

  • Reply Mike Miller April 27, 2020 at 12:42 am

    Being a small contractor/builder, my long-time families have been pushing projects that allow me to work solo OUTSIDE. And they get creative, just like you.
    What will change? Everything. And change is opportunity.
    Loved your post here!

    • Reply Jolie Sikes April 27, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      love this! thanks so much for sharing!!! it’s honestly so good to get back to creativity!

  • Reply dear small business owners part 2. – Junk Gypsy Blog May 1, 2020 at 9:31 am

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