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The small business of surviving

We all know everything has a price. Even things you can’t buy like happiness, peace of mind and love can come at a huge price, be it money or something else.

What is the price of keeping things the same? What is the price of change? What is the price of safety?

We all are asking those questions at the moment. We all don’t know the answer. We look to the government and they don’t know. We look to the scientists and they don’t know.


Your children look up at you and ask you: What is going to happen?

You have to tell them the truth: Nobody knows for sure.

These are uncertain times and we experience things that only half a year ago would have seemed impossible or ridiculous. Some of us deal first-hand with the very real corona virus. Others struggle with the worries over their mental and physical health and their livelihoods.

I have been lucky enough, that I and my family have been spared so far from suffering directly from Covid 19. We are extremely grateful for that and are taking every precaution to keep it that way. Like everyone else however, we have been going through a lot of change as a family and as business owners.

From one day to another our Café, that we have worked so hard to open, was closed.

The last days were very emotional for me, I had a lump in my throat many times. Wondering if it might be the last time ever, that we had the opportunity to serve some of our wonderful regulars with their ‘usual’ and a friendly chat, that has come to mean so much to both parties. I was so very touched by customers coming in to support us and at the same time I wanted to send them away to keep them safe!

There was pressure on me, to act and reassure the staff and frankly myself, that the Swedish Den would open again. Of course, we would do everything we could to support them, but we also had no idea how it was going to work. Unfortunately, as a small start-up business we were in no position to promise anything. The only thing, that I was sure of was, that it went against everything in me to give up.

It really hurt to let go, it was upsetting and scary, but I needed to keep things together and try and think straight. I remember we received a bad review from some of our very last sit-in customers, being disappointed with the service. What they didn’t know was that I was crying in the kitchen - it felt like being kicked when already down.

In our determination to keep being there for our customers and provide a service we attempted to start up a ‘Meals n wheels’ service, but when the school closed, and the official lock down was announced we took the only right decision for us - to close.



Business is business, of course. But this is not the only thing it is to a small business owner. The Swedish Den is the result of lots and lots of determination and hard work. It is my livelihood, it is a part of me, my connection to my beloved Sweden, my dream, my passion, my place to be creative, my bit of freedom, my ‘baby’, my family.


The lockdown was a massive change of pace for me. Before that, I had always been busy even if sometimes I might have been chasing my own tail. Until a year ago I was a stay at home mum for my four children so both me and the kids were well practised. Home schooling was not a problem as I am a former Primary School teacher. Priority during this time was staying home, staying safe and staying sane.


There was not much that could be done about the Swedish Den for the time being, except making sure our staff were furloughed. The worry about its future was like a dark cloud looming over us. Many business owners were in the same boat and still are.



Now that the lockdown is easing, and the schools are gradually reopening the time has come to start to bring our business back but with everything being so uncertain the only thing we know for sure is that it will not be the same as before.


Running a successful independent business was never easy to begin with but the current circumstances make it just about impossible. The safety of staff and customers is more important than ever with the Corona virus still out there. Basics like childcare and supplies are more difficult to organise than before. Add to that that the footfall is extremely low and sit-in trade is not an option. We are testing the waters by opening for short times and trying to get a feeling for what, when and how our services are needed.


The customers who have been supporting us have been incredibly kind and encouraging and as you can imagine it means the world to us. Having to stay incredibly flexible and adapt our plans constantly means our opening times are not regular and often have to change. Sadly, this can mean we have to disappoint people which is the last thing we wish to do.


I would like to ask everyone for their understanding and patience please. Also, I thank you all whole-heartedly for staying loyal to us and giving us hope that we can keep going. We believe that we will get through this together!

Yours sincerely,

Rebecca


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