A Bittersweet Two Year Anniversary Post
Today marks 2 years since I opened the doors to Petwell Supply. Given the state of the world, and the state of small businesses everywhere, it is a bittersweet moment.
The last two years have been filled with many highs and lows, with the last 6 months being especially challenging.
Since March, I often get the question "...how are things going?" I can tell the underlying question really is: "are you going to make it?" The answer is: I'm not sure.
When COVID hit in March, I lost 75% of the business overnight and had to lay off eleven people. Beyond the financial devastation of covid, some of the trauma my team and I faced in the early months is still with me. Most of our tight-knit team of 11 was laid off over zoom, and although I tried to provide closure and ongoing opportunities for us to connect and heal together, it fell short of any type of closure you would need in this situation. When I returned back to the store after a brief closure in early March, I was surrounded by the ghosts of our team: A leftover meal in the fridge, personal photographs in the office, and an extra pair of shoes, among other personal belongings that you would find in a space shared by 11 people. The grief was hard to face, and on top of it, I lost one of my dear friends (39 years old and totally healthy) to COVID the same week.
At first, there was no real plan to move forward. I just showed up every day, filled orders for delivery, and tried to pay the bills. I felt an enormous responsibility to our community (and still do) to keep everyone safe, which is why our store remains mostly closed for "regular" shopping.
This shake up for many, myself included, has provided some really valuable time to ask really important life questions and time to dream about future paths. I'm still navigating my way through this as best I can; listening to my gut about what feels right, and listening carefully to my intuition about next steps, both short and long term. Lately my inspiration has led to me reconnecting with my former love: pet food, and working on producing an online dog food cooking class (sign up here), collaborating with an artist to produce custom embroidered trucker hats with your pets on them (coming soon!) and dabbling in e-commerce analytics and advertising.
Petwell Supply, in all its forms, has been my love letter to this community (and its pets) for the last two years, and possibly for years to come. I have until November 1st to make a firm decision about renewing the lease for another three years. I go back and forth about it every day, every hour, and sometimes every minute. Sometimes I want to re-sign my lease for another 3 years because it's too heartbreaking to think about not seeing you and your pets all the time. Other times I wonder if there are better ways I can put my skills, interests, and resources towards serving pets near and far. I am hopeful that if I do decide on another path for myself that I will be able to find a buyer for this location, who can continue to provide important and needed services and products in this community. That said, if you know of anyone who would be interested in this opportunity, please let me know.
In the meantime, I'm grateful to each and every one of you for being with me on this journey. You and your pets make it all worth it.
- Emily Lagasse