Newport, Vermont – May 8, 2020: A view from the trenches of rural small business survivalism
Every day I’m mentally running to catch up. The business plan revisions in my head are only as good as the 24 hour news cycle during which they were concocted. In early April it felt like shut down for a few weeks and then everything will be back to normal. Now it seems that normal could be years away, or not. I feel enormous pressure to make sure we can survive until June, but then I also need to think about getting through the end of 2020, and also to do that in a way that would enable us to survive for the long term. And I don’t want Eden to just survive, I want Eden to thrive for the good of our people, for the good of the small local orchards we support, for the survival of the heirloom apple varieties we use. The conversations I’m having with our orchard partners are particularly heartbreaking. If restaurants and distribution sales don’t come back, we’ll end this year with enough cider to sell next year, and that means not buying apples from these partners who are making decisions right now about the labor and supplies they will spend to support their 2020 crop.
Words I?m getting really tired of include pivot, virtual and zoom. But I think they are definitely here to stay. Try our new Tasting Kit and sign up for a virtual guided tasting with me! There are 9 dates in May, or you can get a group of at least 6 together and I?ll do a private tasting for you all on Zoom of course. I’m not really being sarcastic. These are very therapeutic- it’s really nice to see people and get to share our ciders with them. It’s one of the old normal activities I miss the most.
Cash is king, queen, jack. Must only spend it on what’s absolutely necessary to enable us to keep operating next week, next month. I owe suppliers, utilities, services, my accountant even. I never imagined myself a deadbeat. It’s super painful.
The cider is still AMAZING. The beautiful thing is that properly aging good cider made from the right apples means it tastes even better. We won’t have to pour stuff down the drain like the desperate dairy farmers around us are doing with their milk (so hard to see.) We have batches of absolutely gorgeous stuff in barrels and tanks which we will blend for more of our limited quantity Cellar Series releases. I am grateful for Garrett’s talent and hard work in the cellar, for the other 3 team members still with us who are doing whatever needs to be done, for all of the customers who have supported us with generous orders, and for the fact that my loved ones are safe and well.
I hope yours are too.
Newport, Vermont – March 22, 2020: Acknowledging this new reality
You may see us posting some cool new ciders and special offers for online ordering. In reality, this is our only channel for sales for the time being. As the crisis has deepened, it has felt increasingly necessary to me to communicate to our friends and supporters about the reality we see; to acknowledge, even as we celebrate the amazing ciders we are turning out, that things are not okay.
Our growth and distribution has focused mostly on independent restaurants and bars, exactly the segment that is being worst hit economically. In one week we saw 6 weeks of planned orders dry up to almost nothing, to say nothing of the impact on the wonderful chefs, owners, bartenders, somms and servers we count as friends and supporters. This will also have impacts on our apple partners. 95% of the apples that we use in our cider are grown here in Vermont, by small orchards who depend on us to support their livelihood.
Eden Specialty Ciders is taking action as COVID-19 dramatically impacts our business. As of Friday we have made the difficult but necessary decision to put of our staff on temporary layoff, and we have delayed the packaging of most of our new ciders.
For now, selling our ciders online is our best option to weather this storm, and we are encouraging those who can to toast their virtual happy hours with Eden. We have some special offers here, including 15% off on any 12 or more bottles, free shipping within the state of Vermont, and online ordering with back door pickup at our facility in Newport. Rest assured we are conducting business according to the CDC guidelines for safety and health.
This will be my last message about the bad news. We’re going to survive this, and we look forward to when we can all take a seat together at our favorite bars and restaurants and toast a return to normal with a glass of your favorite cider. Until then I send all best wishes for the health and safety of you and your loved ones.