Coronavirus: A Small Business Nightmare

After running our newly acquired Bed and Breakfast for only four months, we have made the uncomfortable decision to close for business for at least two weeks. We don’t know when we will be back open for business. It is too soon to make that call. Our first reason is due to the Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak that is sure to hit northwestern Montana. Just a few days ago, it was reported that our first two cases of Coronavirus were found right here in the Flathead Valley. The second reason is because anyone who had reservations for end of March and into April has cancelled them. And in a strange way we feel a little safer for it. Things are starting to feel very real.

Whitefish Mountain Resort closed early for the ski season, so there would be no spring skiing. (Something I was very much looking forward to.) Many of the restaurants and small businesses are closing or opting for take-out services only. The Governor has declared a state of emergency. Bars and gyms are forced to close.

The town of Whitefish, Montana is shutting down. A sobering yet familiar sentiment that many towns across America are experiencing, if not all.

It’s hard to believe that the Coronavirus wasn’t even in our vocabulary just months ago. And now it is literally the only topic of conversation and is on our minds constantly. We have had to completely change course here with our small business. To think that April was going to be our month to rest, to train our staff and to spend time getting prepared for our busy summer ahead. Instead we have laid off all of our employees and are busy chipping away on our deep spring cleaning all by ourselves and most importantly waiting on pins and needles to see where this ship is heading.

If we are lucky, the storm will pass through quickly and we can jump back on course and have an incredibly successful summer. Worst case, we hit the ice berg head on and possibly lose everything (for a second time).

For the readers who have followed this blog from the start, you will remember that getting to the point of taking ownership of Good Medicine Lodge was a very difficult road for us. We almost didn’t close on the business and would’ve had to figure out our plan B quickly. But things did work out and we were able to begin our new life as Inn Keepers on October 29th, 2019. We thought the hardest part was over at that point…..we were wrong!

We knew that running a B&B was not going to be easy. We had done extensive research. B&B’s are not known to be the most profitable, so financially this was risky to begin with. Being an inn keeper is also extremely challenging because you have to juggle so many day to day tasks like serving your guests, running a small restaurant, meal planning and paying close attention to particular dietary needs, maintaining cleanliness not just in the many rooms we have but in the common areas, fireplaces, front, back and side yards. You also have to be an expert in finance, marketing, retail, food safety, staff management and list goes on and on. But we came into this well prepared and thought that if anyone could run a successful B&B, it would be us. Who knew that in only a few short months, barely anytime to settle into routine, we would need to fight the greatest battle that we have ever experienced in our lifetime.

The Coronavirus. A pandemic that has literally spread worldwide and at this very moment has killed 11,307 people and infected 274,606 in just three months time.

These days I often feel overwhelmed with panic and stress over this virus and then with time, I am relaxed and calm knowing that we are doing everything in our power to help our situation. I have never worked harder and I have never wanted to succeed more. The thought of my two beautiful boys keep me going.

We have our health (thankfully) and we live in one of the most beautiful and safe places in the world. We chose to move here to Whitefish, Montana for a variety of reasons. Considering the current climate, it was a good move and safety is literally the reason why we left Oakland, CA. My thoughts often wander back to my friends back in Oakland wondering how they are coping behind confined in their homes and how they must stress over being so close in proximity to so many other people.

I often wonder what my day to day would look like if I had stayed back in California commuting to the different hospitals I worked in. I have read so many stories about the tents being set up in parking lots to be used as overflow and testing sites. Stories of exhausted staff and lack of medical supplies. I don’t know if I would have been expected to report to work at the hospitals or not. It sounds like the hospitals are over run and I can only imagine they would need all hands on deck. Even though I could’ve only helped in non-medical ways, I would be there in the “war zones” so to speak offering what help I could. My thoughts are with them and hope they are all safe and away from the terrors this illness seems to bring with it.

Like everyone else, I am learning how to find some sort of normal routine with all this crazy change. Without guests currently staying with us, I can sleep in past 6am in the morning, which is incredible. I can eat breakfast and enjoy my coffee with my family. I can take Frankie, our Siberian husky out for a jog in the Spring-like weather and sunshine while Ryan takes the kids on a long bike ride to the beach at Whitefish Lake. After a refreshing morning and putting my head in the right mindset, I head over to the B&B side of the property to dive into the tasks of the day. Most of which revolves around checking the news for the latest updates about the virus and then diving into financial options and creative ways to keep us afloat. Every time the phone rings, my heart sinks. Half the time it is some poor marketer who obviously has their head in the sand about the happenings of the world. I do not feel like arguing so instead of giving them a piece of my mind I hang up. And the other half the time it is another cancellation. I see our future disappearing with every swipe we make over the refund button.

The last few days feel so weird. It is nothing like the days before the Coronavirus. Currently the kids are both out of school. Dylan is asking me all of the time when he is going back and when does he get to see his friends. It feels like a hostage situation. Caleb is just getting over Hand, Foot and Mouth (yet another virus that has circulated through our community.) He couldn’t be happier because he gets to spend every waking minute snuggling and being cozy with us.

We cannot see our friends or do any of the normal things we typically would do. We cannot be within 6 feet of another person. We are asked to isolate ourselves in our homes and only head out for emergency supplies. Which seems like the hardest decision to ponder because we have no idea for how long we should plan to isolate. The questions we ask ourselves, “how many vegetables should we buy? There isn’t any meat left, should we be stocking up on other proteins? Why are we stocking up so soon? Is this too soon? Or is this virus about to hit our area and for how long?” The thoughts and decisions are endless.

If you asked me my current status I would say that it is constantly shifting. One moment my head weighs fifty pounds, my body is floating and there is a heart string with a direct line to my eyes that seem to never run out of tears. There is a steady stream made up of fear, love and desperation. And the next, I am cheery and hopeful. I am totally erratic.

Because there is this other side to all of this, which in a sense offers a slight restoration or maybe even some balance back on this Earth. Before the Coronavirus, I was constantly stressed out about the state of the environment. This past winter was extremely warm and the lack of snow really had me worried. How much longer will this planet sustain?

I knew something big was on the horizon. It would have to be HUGE to be able to shake us all into submission. How could so many humans be forced to live differently to make the changes necessary for a more sustainable planet? I don’t want to make light of what is to come because quite honestly, it could get really bad. I mean economically speaking this is a catastrophe. And there is a good chance we personally, don’t come out of this okay. We could potentially lose our home, business and with that all of our savings that we have worked so hard for. But if we are to choose to see the positive sides of this (because there are always positives if you look hard enough), then here are just a few:

We are spending much more (and needed) time with our children. Reading to them, playing with them, helping them with their homework. I am seeing more people outside, whether that be the Spring bringing them out or their defiance against a potential lock down. There are so many more people going on bike rides and on walks outside in the fresh air. People are learning how to cook their meals again and maybe even showing their kids while they do it. People are reconnecting through social media. Families are connecting on a deeper level than before. I am seeing people use their strengths to entertain, educate and help others during this incredible time. People are showing their resilience like I’ve never seen before. Obviously we are in the early stages but it’s refreshing nonetheless.

There are reports that China is seeing cleaner air and Italy is seeing clearer water through their canals. Carbon emissions have dramatically reduced. I am aware that environmentally speaking it might not be enough, but it is something and I will take it!

People are talking about and remembering nature on social media. There is this enlightenment taking place because it is being forced upon us. In a very twisted way, it’s almost like this is the only way for us to step outside of what we find comfortable to actually make a change. Nature is forcing it on us and on the one hand it is completely terrifying but on the other it is also a necessary evil. We have to endure until the winds shift.

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3 Comments

  1. I really like what you had to say at the end, it’s hard to find the positive side to all this. We are all so scared and the future is uncertain. You have risked so much and have so much to lose in all this. I’m thinking of you all everyday and if theres ever anything I can do you can count on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We were just talking about you guys last night – hopes a prayers for a short close and a speedy recovery. Until then, like all of us, enjoy the special family time we’ve all been given – seems odd to call it a “gift,” but I guess it helps my mind to see it that way. Will wait for the thumbs up and book for the fall – and summer if anything opens up. You guys are VERY good at what you do. Stay safe, be healthy and hold on!

    Liked by 1 person

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