June 2020 - 32

POHMER ON
A CHALLENGING
JOURNEY...
Here are some things garden centers should be constantly
thinking about as we go through the pandemic.
By Stan Pohmer
I
think it's safe to say that, in modern history, no
individual or business has ever been subjected to such
rapid change of almost unfathomable magnitude as we
have experienced in the past few months starting with the
COVID-19 pandemic - and the economic collapse that
resulted from it.
It's touched almost every part of our existence ... the way
we live our lives, the way we learn, the way we work, and
the way we interact with each other, and it's dictated what
we can and can't do in almost every facet of our being. And
I also think it's safe to say that no one has any idea what
the " new' " normal will look like in the short or long term as
we deal with this crisis; our reactions and responses to it
are fluid, constantly changing as we learn more about what
does and doesn't work.
Uncertainty Abounds
As an industry, we're used to dealing with problems.
But the kind we have experience with are very specific,
like weather or a crop disease; we clearly know what the
issue is, what action will be taken to resolve or overcome
it, and that it has a point of resolution. The frustration for
us with the current challenge is that there is no timetable
or even a guesstimate on when it will be over, no clear and
definitive path or plan as to how it's going to be resolved,
32 | LAWN & GARDEN RETAILER | JUNE 2020
what actions we can take to control our own personal and
professional destinies.
The problem is compounded by the fact that there are
many moving pieces creating a multiplier of combinations
and permutations that impact us that we have absolutely
no control over. Simply said, there's no certainty about
anything. At the end of the day, a virus that we have little
knowledge about or control over is driving our decisions,
all we can do is react to its unknown behavior.
The operative question is: When can we get back to
business as usual? The answer most likely is that we'll
never be back to where we were. Our customers' psyches
are changing, how we operate our businesses is changing,
and how we sell our products and services is changing.
Customers have a sense of fear and foreboding about
catching the virus, making them hesitant to physically
go into stores, and this fear is accentuated in our older
customers, the base who spends the most money in our
industry, as they are the most vulnerable to the virus.
Working from home will likely continue in some form
because companies realize that it works and because,
until schools and childcare institutions are re-opened,
some parents can't physically go back to offsite places of
employment.
More customers are now becoming more comfortable
with purchasing products, food and services on the
Internet for no-contact pick up (BOPIS) or home delivery,
and this will become more of the permanent norm in the
future. Whether you are doing it because it's the right
thing to do, or because it's being influenced or mandated
by national, state, county, or city/town guidelines, you
may have to limit the number of customers allowed in
your store, maintain social distancing, enforce customer

June 2020

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https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/LGR/thriveguide-2021
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