It's been a long time since I have sat down to blog.
I have written so many blogs in my head over the last almost two years but they all just seemed to fall flat when I tried to put it on paper.
My head swirls the usual stuff that is written all over the place. To this point most people have become numb to it and don't seem to pay attention to anymore. Covid... blah, blah, blah, short staffed...blah, blah, blah, supply chain shortages...blah, blah, blah.
First let me give huge kudos to our staff that has worked their collective butts off during this pandemic. Who knew that chocolate would become the go to stress food during lockdown? Well we sort of did. Our incredible employees have been working consistently through all of this. They stepped up to produce our fabulous confections, to fill overwhelming mail orders, and to navigate curbside orders. And they did it all with masks on. The masks hid our smiles, and gritted teeth but kept our tired eyes shining. The constant disinfecting left us all feeling like our brains were as clean as the inside of a Lysol bottle at the end of each day. They laughed, they cried, they hustled and crawled beside us to keep the business going. Every day brought new rules, new challenges, new worries and the occasional triumph. We cannot thank them enough for sticking with us during a time that was both challenging personally to them and tumultuous for us in business.
Supply Chain. Ugh. Everyday is like opening a new page of "Where's Waldo?" I still don't think people have a true understanding of what exactly is going on in the supply chain. Chocolate. Oh there are plenty of cocoa beans to be processed here in the United States. The issue is there are not enough workers to process the beans into our much loved chocolate coating. Packaging...everything is pushed back in delivery dates. We cry when we talk to our suppliers. These are our friends who are stressed before they even answer the phone. Some don't even want to answer the phone. I can only imagine the nonsense that they get from so many customers who have orders that they cannot fill. So the hunt is on every day and we are constantly adjusting. We see our shipping carriers from UPS, FED EX and truck drivers exhausted, over worked and under appreciated. Betsy is like a Jack-in-the-Box popping out of her office all day long. Can't get this, can't get that. Every. Single. Day. To be honest we do anticipate price increases as supply and labor costs have increased for the gazillion reasons you all already know about. Our goal is to be fair, competitive and still remain in business.
The Family. We have been tested. But then again who hasn't through all of this? We have in the last 2 years welcomed 3 new babies to our 5th generation candy makers of the future. Theo, Jack and just recently Ennalie. These little cherubs bring joy to our days and hope in the future. They are a reminder that life continues no matter what is going on.
At this moment in time I am happy to report we are all still speaking and there have been no recent incidence of flying chocolate directed at any one family member. Our communication continues as usual. Hopefully, one of us is somewhat even keel for the day and that person serves as the anchor while the rest of us walk the plank.
June brought us all up short with a solid reminder that life can change at a moments notice. Alex, our junior candy maker extraordinaire, was in a devastating car accident that left him with serious injuries. With two emergency surgeries behind him, extra hardware in place to put him back together and hours of physical therapy he is making progress and healing. At almost 82, Papa is back at the helm working waaayyyyyy to many hours in the kitchen. The man is an impressive machine in what he accomplishes in a day. He is a testament to his generation who understands the value of working hard to get through the tough stuff. We do what we do best in these circumstances. We circle the wagons and figure out how to get it all done. We hold our breath and pray for the grace we need to stay healthy to continue working hard each day.
In July, Shelly and I travelled to Columbus Ohio for the Retail Confectioner's International Candy Convention. There for the first time in two years we gathered with our chocolate family from across the country. What joy to share our journey through this pandemic with each other! Misery love company. We shared our stories, laughed, hugged and helped each other with ideas on how to keep our chocolate shops running. Collectively we marveled at the resiliency of the human spirit when faced with adversity. We shook our heads and rolled our eyes at the dark side of humans that can also surface during times like these. This indescribable chocolate family from across our country inspires and supports one another in a way that is so heartwarming. We left Columbus with positive thoughts and warm hearts knowing that we are not alone.
To our customers. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to our regulars who did everything in your power to keep us going when our doors were closed. Thank you for your patience as we hire new staff and train them. These things take time. Thank you for not flipping out on us when we don't have a product. Thank you to our new customers who came out to support local business and decided to stick around because you like our product. We will do our best every day to keep quality products on the shelf.
It is our fervent hope that we can provide our confections to all of you with friendly smiles through this upcoming holiday season. Kindness and patience with each other is the focus to get us through. And let us all remember that although life is challenging right now it is still very sweet.