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Day 23 Update: The View From the Top - It Sucks.

5 April 2020 - 

It does stop

Just wanted to drop a quick note to folks. We’re still here making ceramics, the weather is getting pretty fantastic and the jasmine is still blooming on our terrace.

The view from the top - it sucks.

We’re getting to the peak of infected cases. We’ve been holed up here since the 14th of March. So 23 days straight and finally it looks like we’re getting to the peak of the infections. It’s now growing at a rate of just 2% and we should see numbers going negative (YEAH!) in a day or two.

So we’re at the peak, and yes the view from the top sucks. It’s cloudy, poor visibility, looks like a long way back down. Though we’re here. Thank goodness. For those that are still on the hike up a few things to note:

  • It does stop going up (really)
  • It takes a really really long time to get things under control if they get out of control.

I found the numbers to be impressively overwhelming. For example, once things get going wrong like they did here in Spain. 

  1. We started stay-at-home 23 days ago with about 5,000 active infections
  2. At two weeks into the stay-at-home - 10 days ago - we had about 40,000 active infections growing at 16% a day
  3. Now almost three weeks into stay-at-home - we have about 80,000 active infections growing at 2% a day
  4. The entire country is under stay-at-home orders until at least 26 April. So 21 more days, or more.

So for perspective, wherever you are in this little pandemic, it’s a freight train that takes a long long time to get it to slow down and then finally stop. In total, if we can head outside on the 26th of April. We’ll have been with stay-at-home for about 44 days. 

You can take away from all this that, when folks standing in front of microphones say “this week” or “about a week” they will be saying the same darn thing next week. 

Note: “weekend numbers”. I found this kind of interesting, probably wrong. We’ve seen this the past few weeks that the numbers over the weekend are under reported. Both good and bad numbers, then there is a spike either on Monday or Tuesday to catch up. Even when looking at the Johns Hopkins data you also see this little 7 or 8 day blip of under reporting for many countries. Might be from something else but that’s my best guess - chalk it up the local clerk not working on the weekends during the pandemic.

Stay-at-home, kind of

So from our perspective, the sooner folks just sit on the couch the better. Google’s tracking and movement reporting is quite revealing. If you take a peek at Spain and Italy data of stay-at-home compared to North America. Here in Spain we’ve been pretty darn good at the game called stay-at-home. Which means, stay at home.

Wendy and I have not walked out the front door of our apartment for a week. The last time one of us went out was to take out the garbage - with mask and gloves on. That’s it.

Folks might want to look at their areas and decide when they actually are going to really start staying at home. Then you can start calculating the 23-25 days from the peak if you are in a highly infected area.

Golfing, outdoor exercise, craft stores, hardware stores, coffee shops, clothing stores and food take out - are not essential services. So until you see those closing in your town you are not yet on day 1. (Refer to the “open” store map of Barcelona population 1.7 million in the city and 5.6 million people in the metro area.)

Business

We just keep pounding at it and bit by bit we’re piecing it together to keep going. No small business ever succeeded by giving up - so don’t. It’s that simple, plus what the heck is the alternative? We’re only selling online, but we’re open and we answer the phone reply to email.

We’re Open (echo, echo, echo...)

Echoing around that we’re open. It’s kind of staggering what’s closed. Basically everything. We registered our business to help make critical supplies if needed. We also registered the business as “still open” but only for online and phone orders. Here’s a view of the website for Barcelona as to what is open - normally this map would be packed with tens of thousands of businesses for all of Barcelona. Now for our neighborhood (70,000 pop.) we’re one of about 30 businesses open.

Orders

This week we had one of our favorite corporate clients ask for a new quote for a limited edition product. We pieced the sample together with a bit of creativity as our suppliers are also closed but we're hopeful we’ll get the order. Even the asking for a quote lifted our spirits.

Business to business efforts, we’ve stopped any marketing and outreach, as everything is closed. Once things get going again, we intend to focus on marketing to larger local corporate clients. The thinking goes like this:

  • Any small business has no money or time for our products
  • The larger businesses might have some budget as things start getting back to normal
  • Being a local business, we hope to have a chance and get their attention. Where before they might not consider buying local.

Direct to consumer - basically focusing on filling the top of the sales funnel. For example, building our mailing list, optimizing online ads and building social media followers. Our hope is we get out of this mess of a pandemic with a much larger group of potential customers. We assume folks will not be spending lots, but we want to at least start a conversation with our potential customers so when they are ready to buy, even if it’s a long way out, we’re in their consideration set.

Stir Crazy

So we’re at day 23 and have 21 more days to go, at least.

The Spanish government has advised folks to wear cloth face coverings. So Wendy is now busy making face masks for us and neighbors with whatever material she can find. It appears to be quite the complicated process. Luckily we’ve got a sewing machine. We’re wishing we had non-woven materials, but we’re making due with cotton. Wendy advises from her random Internet searching that the Olson mask design is the “best”.

As for our neighborhood. Today’s big excitement is “balcony bingo” starting at 5 PM. There are at least 100 folks playing. They even had a vote last night on the three songs for the opening of the bingo game. Plus, there is now a prize (sponsored by Taller Gingell Ceramics) for the most creative bingo card.

Wish us luck with the bingo game today.

Oh and wash your hands.