All business owners had to do it, in one way or another over the last month: switch to take-out, shift emphasis to digital, shake up the product line, make new arrangements.
No one is guaranteed a profitable business model for life. So everyone who’s not selling groceries, hardware, medical supplies and handmade facemasks has had to come up with some version of the coronavirus pivot.
Triad City Beat made the move to a digital-first newsroom. Another business owner I know is seeing more action from the retail side than services, which used to make up the bulk of her income. Bars are refashioning themselves into lunch-delivery places and mini grocery stores; venues are hosting livestream entertainment while artists are playing gigs from their living rooms; Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse turned itself into a small business.
You get the picture.
On Lewis Street, in downtown Greensboro, father and son Bill and Andrew Norman worked it all out in their distillery, Fainting Goat Spirits, where they’ve been making high-quality booze since 2016 — first gin and vodka, then whiskey and rye.
And while demand for their product is as high as its ever been — “We’ve been doing a lot more drive-up business since the this started,” Andrew says — the coronavirus had other plans.
Right now he’s lovelessly sloshing hand sanitizer — Fainting Goat’s newest and, right now, only product — through a clear hose into 5-gallon buckets for bulk distribution.
Everybody wants some, it seems.
They’ve got several commercial accounts, Andrew says, and they’ll give anybody who wants a free 8-ounce sample at the distillery while they’re inside working — bring your own container.
“We can barely keep up,” Andrew says, “but it’s boring as shit to make.”
They’ve still got plenty of vodka, gin, whiskey and rye — booze takes years to mature, and they’ve got warehouse full of barrels awaiting their time.
But this is an interruption in the pipeline, for sure. The Norman’s are just not sure when they’ll get back to the family business, but even when they do, hand-sanitizer is almost certainly going to be a part of it.