A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog trying to explain how I personally was handling the COVID-19 landscape. I also intended to help you, Sagebrush customers, understand what we were doing in response to this virus. Thank you for taking the time to read it and respond personally. It was super encouraging to hear all of your responses to that note. Even though this is primarily an online business in many ways, I feel a connection to you all and am glad we can interact during these times. I thought then that it would be my only email in response to this situation. At the time, I was thinking this would last several weeks. We only had 9 confirmed cases in Maricopa county, and it was hard to see how far and how quickly COVID-19 would spread here in Arizona. I knew of other places in the country that were dealing with this on a completely different level, but I don't think anyone had an idea of what April 1st would bring. As I talk about the days we're living in, I keep referring to it is a 'weird time'. I don't really have another word for it. We're all connected in a way through this terrible disease, and yet we're all experiencing the repercussions of it in very different ways.
Yesterday Eden & I decided we wanted to brave Costco. Partly, because we wanted to get out of the house and partly because we had legitimate Costco items we needed. It was interesting to see the gambit of people's responses to the virus. I saw someone that was covered head-to-toe with gloves and a facemask, every square inch of their body was covered. I also saw many people without any personal protective equipment. There were doctors in scrubs with masks and many with just scrubs. I also saw people working hard to be at least 6 feet away from each other. I saw people being considerate in many ways while also being socially distanced (I hope I'm using the new phrase correctly). I am sure there are times when people are allowing their fear to create anger and impatience, but I didn't see it at Costco yesterday, and I was encouraged. This is a terrifying time, and fear can turn into a lot of emotions which are not helpful. It was an excellent reminder to me to shepherd my heart & thought life in a way that brings out the positive responses to this time.
Arizona is currently abiding by a 'stay-at-home' order. I know every state is handling it differently, but I like that they used this phrasing. Their intention was the word shelter can bring out fear and they want to encourage Arizona residents that we’re doing this to protect each other. Our local government has defined what they believe are essential businesses for Arizona residents, and they've made an executive order that if you are not part of those businesses or doing work relating to them, you must “stay at home”. If you look at our community spread numbers, we're definitely not getting hit like many areas of the country, and hopefully, this order will protect us in a way so the people who do need medical care from this virus will be able to get it. The good news for Sagebrush is we're an essential business. We fall into two essential categories because we're both primarily an online business, and we're providing food service. Since so many people are staying at home these days, we've seen an uptick in sales, and I want to thank you all for that. I'm super grateful that at this time, you are looking at the family businesses to support. We're doing the same thing. As a family, we've made a list of our favorite locally owned restaurants and are working through the list for take-out food as much as we can afford to do so. I think this is a good time for us all to support each other in any way possible, and if eating at my favorite restaurant a couple of extra times does that, then I'm in!
Since we're a family run business, I thought I'd give you a quick update on the family. All of our kids have moved to online school, as has Jenna, who went back to college this semester. It seems the state is still trying to figure out what their schooling requirements are, and for lack of a better way of putting it, keep moving the goalposts. As a family, we're transitioning well, and everyone is comfortable with being flexible. Jonathan is in the class of 2020, and one of the students in his class started a petition to send to our governor to allow their class to have all of the things that graduating seniors get (e.g., Prom, Graduation, etc.). Jonathan wrote this message in response on social media, which, as a father, made me proud that he has the right perspective on this time. However, perspective doesn't make the time easier. It will be difficult for him as an adult to think back on his last semester of high school as having ended at the start of spring break. I wish he could have at least a chance to say goodbye to his friends from school before they move on to the next phase of their lives. However, as we think about the lasting ramifications of this virus, I keep going back to the thought that it truly is a weird time. I'm very curious what permanent changes we will see in the future as a result.
That leads me to our current climate at Sagebrush. We continue to be staffed well, and everyone is healthy. If you haven't talked to her over the phone, Sarah is being a rockstar and leading the shop well in this time. She takes the seriousness of keeping everything clean to the next level and I think everyone is more comfortable given her intention and leadership. I have talked to each employee to make sure they're comfortable with our current work environment, and we seem to be in a good place. I have told anyone that if they feel sick, to just let me know and they get the paid time off. If it gets to a place where our ability to ship in the timely fashion that you are used to is limited, I'll email everyone immediately, but I don't anticipate it. We have a few former employees waiting in the wings if we need to pull in additional help.
Lastly, I want to use this time as an opportunity to serve others. We're doing some things behind the scenes to help, but I want to know what you all need. If any of you are struggling, either emotionally or physically, let me know. I'd love to email you to help or just be able to pray for you. This is a very difficult time and I know there are better ways to serve you than just providing great coffee. In the meantime, I have some very exciting things brewing (yeah…I did that) here at Sagebrush. We had a product plan for April, and that isn't changing so keep your eyes peeled.
Thanks for letting me send another long post, and I hope you all are doing well.
Dear Matt, thank you for thoughts and the updates relating to this “weird time” we are all going through. If everyone does their part we will get through it however challenging things might get.
Your well worded message has convinced me that I should be a new customer of your online business. I also agree, that doing business with a small business (having had one also) is so important to so many livelihoods across the entire country, especially now in these tough times.
Stay safe and look forward to doing business with Sagebrush Coffee.