Tapping right into a connection — and, hopefully, the longer term | Enterprise
Since working with Greg Ohlsen on Travel Bug, he and I have made it our goal to sit down every now and then and discuss life and business over a beer. I would say we are good friends.
As partners, we see many things as equals. Sure we have our differences, but sitting over a beer is a great way to reconnect as people. Our meetings have not been quiet lately.
It’s not only that retail is dying (all the experts say it), it’s also that the uncertainty on every front has made navigating all fronts a tremendous challenge.
While I speak as a retailer, the truth applies to a wider range of experiences: This pandemic has taken our sense of control away from us all.
We are alone and for hours and days and weeks and months. Nothing is safe. We wonder what inventory we should buy, if any, and how much of it we can sell. Should we open or close sooner or later? Is any of this important at all?
We sit or walk up and down or rearrange ourselves waiting for someone or something to break through the monotony of empty distance and bad news.
We mostly enjoy interacting with customers, but at the same time we are necessarily distant and cautious. we are nervous and the initial joy in a little small talk can suddenly become irritating.
Our personal and professional life merge. We have been forced to sit with us for almost a year and with all the fear that insecurity brings with it.
Without social distraction, we are irritated by ourselves and, in turn, by those closest to us. Allies are indistinguishable from enemies, so we treat our friends and family as both at the same time. What else can we do? They are our only outlet in a world that is unpredictable and tired and impatient and fearful.
We at Travel Bug are not immune to this.
And so Greg and I sit with a beer for weeks and months arguing about what, if anything, can or should be done.
The next few months, which are slow in normal times, promise to be really difficult. Even if we can hobble until things get better, what then?
If retail is really dying, what is it about? Provided we survive the immediate future, we will not give up the books and the journey. But we believe we need something that can’t be bought online, something that brings people together.
And there it sits in a glass in front of us. It’s not just the beer that waves, but the promise of connection via a beer.
It is a difficult and painful birth. We’re still yelling at each other about how and if we go ahead, but I think we’re still friends. And with a bit of luck, when we can all meet again, you can meet a friend at the Travel Bug Brewery and the Taproom, buy a novel or book about Belize, and plan your next adventure.
Making it Through is a weekly column by community members about their experiences since the pandemic began. Eric Moffat has been a partner at Travel Bug for 2½ years.