Barcelona coronavirus, how are we impacted?
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Lot's of folks asking questions so here's the basics. Other questions let us know.
March 14, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 18, 2020
March 19, 2020
March 23, 2020
March 29, 2020
April 5, 2020
May 17, 2020
March 14, 2020
Barcelona coronavirus, how are we impacted?
Here in Barcelona we are preparing for a bit of a bump. We are under day 1 of mandatory lock down of 2 weeks that might be extended in Barcelona.
Please think what if, this level of restriction might come to you. It wouldn't be a bad idea for your family and businesses to plan immediately.
We are not trying to invoke alarm, but our lives are currently disrupted.
Barcelona is an amazing community that is responding with world class systems and response. The government is communicating wonderfully with the coordination of the federal government in Madrid.
Please care for yourself, your family and your neighbours.
What should I think about, that I might forget?
Please think how you can help your neighbors. How can you feed them and help them?
Compassion, help, truth, facts, science, no fear, kindness - better be stacking it up.
Think homeless, mental health, physically/mentally challenged, poor they need your help. We are registered with all of our abilities and services to help with our local chamber of commerce. We have our neighbours contact information.
Where can I get information about infections?
Our number of infections in Spain are growing right now and the government is working very hard to make them go down.
As we understand, we need to minimize contact to not spread the virus, so the less you need to have contact with others better. The goal is to lower the infection so the folks that do need help can get it in an orderly fashion and help out the medical folks.
It would be a good idea to follow the statistics provided by your government and the world health organization.
Can we go out and get what we need?
Yes food, medicines and doctor visits. That’s it. There are police out stopping you and making sure you should be out.
What should I get that I wouldn't think of?
We got some extra dog food, medicine and some extra shelf stable food. Some beans, rice and so on. Just trying to limit the number of times we leave the house for two weeks. Though we are trying to be reasonable so everyone can get food and supplies. There is no need to stockpile.
We did get some hand moisturizer as we are washing our hands much more often.
Remember do not panic (be a responsible kind human), this is not the zombie apocalypse. You're just trying to not get your friends and neighbors sick so that you don’t overwhelm the health system. Just be a responsible citizen and remember to wash your hands.
If you can help folks prepare that need help please do that. Everyone is human and susceptible to infection. Go help them, please.
What surprised you the most?
The speed of the spread of the infections and government action to get it under control. On Friday we thought maybe/possibly we could have the government close some businesses next week. Less than 24 hours later the stay at home rule was announced. And so here we are at home for 2 weeks.
Though we can confirm from Spain the Earth is still spinning and the sun did come up today. Life goes on.
How does this affect business in general?It’s really impacting small businesses - particularly “stores”. Unfortunately like ours.
One family member may leave the house to:
- Buy food
- Go to pharmacy
- Go to work (if your business is open, office like stuff)
There are police on the street and they stop everyone. They send you home and give you a ticket if you’re not following the rules. 100€ to ½ million. They are not messing around.
The only “stores” open besides hospitals and essential services (telephone, electric, water etc)
Stuff that’s open (not sure this is 100% correct).
- Grocery stores
- Tobacco stores (it's Spain)
- Laundry mats
- Cellphone stores
- News stands
- Animal supply stores
- Hair dressers (sanitary reasons)
- Gas stations
How does this affect our ceramics business?
- Our storefront showroom business is closed.
- The markets where we sell ceramics are closed.
- Our “ceramics bike” is parked for the next few weeks - darn.
We are open online taking orders, but shipping might be delayed a bit.
Thankfully we can take orders and make. Our lead time is 4 - 5 weeks and we have enough to keep making if we keep getting orders to keep the lights on. Fingers crossed.
We’ve stocked up on clay, glaze and essentials to keep going. Lot’s of other businesses are just closed.
Need relief from all this virus stuff?If you find yourself stuck at home, you can always follow us on:
For a daily dose of non-virus information follow us to learn about us making ceramics.
March 17, 2020
Day 3 update. Oh that one thing I forgot!
Yep, we're still here making ceramics. Rainy day, fewer folks out today.
Everyone rushed to the subway and busses today this morning. Long lines, now the city is spacing folks out. 5 to 6 people at the grocery. Basically about 10% normal street traffic and 50% of folks in the grocery buying 200% more than normal.
All the basic stuff is gone, fruit and veggies mostly gone. All fresh meats gone, though the butcher down the street has tons and his meats are super tasty.
50% of folks wearing masks, and only the occasional uninformed 20 year old acting irresponsibly. They quickly get shouted down by 80 year old folks and then the rest of the crowd joins in. They slink away.
Stuff at the grocery is not available because everyone bought 3x normal. It does not mean that there is no more coming. There is.
Cases are still growing, getting close to 10,000 and some people dying every day so far 300 and some.
Oh that one thing I forgot - dental floss.
If you can, try and shop at the local small businesses. These folks are getting decimated.
The world is still spinning and if the rain stops we'll see the sun soon.
Stay safe, stay with those you love and be very very kind to them - like more than normal, please.
One last thing - wash your hands!
March 18, 2020
Day 4 Update. Move forward, carefully - life has changed for a bit.
Hi there, yep, we're still here making ceramics - Earth still spinning. No rain but cloudy, I'd really like to see some Spanish sunshine right about now.
So finally getting back to a routine that does not involve reading news and helping folks get food and their lives sorted out.
So cases are still going up, and the government expects the daily volume will continue to increase for about two weeks. Then, if all goes well, the daily increase of cases will begin to diminish. I won't do any projections here, do the math yourselves if you wish. I'm just trying to provide information that is fact based rather than any "projections" or "scenarios".
So, we're over 11,000 infected, up about 20% from yesterday and just short of 500 deaths (491). Two facts to note.
One, as I understand Catalunya did not update their numbers in the reported numbers for today. Catalunya has 7.5 million people and is the second most affected area in Spain.
Two, Spain stopped testing cases of folks with "light" symptoms a few days ago, as the testing system was getting too busy. They announced today they are now getting enough capacity up to begin testing again in two or three days.
The government has announced a plan to stop mortgage payments for folks affected and have stopped the turning off of gas, electric or water services for non-payment.
I said "carefully" in the title above because life has changed. Some anecdotes and items to think about:
- The military is deployed or deploying in 28 cities in Spain.
- The number of patients in ICU multiplied 40x in the last ten days. This forces hospitals to prepare contingency plans in the face of the avalanche of serious cases that await them. Please refer to the number of new cases daily above, subtract about 10 days of infections and you see the picture. They anticipate going from 400 to 1,000 by the weekend.
- Right now folks are getting treatment as there are beds available. To put this in perspective Google: Number of ICU beds in Spain. Basically think of any way you can help your local friends that are in the medical profession. Might want to do the same search with "your country" to get some perspective.
- Yesterday at 9am our local clinic called and cancelled the doctors appointments both Wendy and I had on Monday and Wednesday this week.
- Any medical or nursing student with basic training is being deployed to hospitals. All people in Spain that have accredited medical credentials in another country and are waiting approval to work in Spain can now temporarily work by registering with the government.
- Speaking with our one friend who is pregnant. She has been informed that she will not be giving birth in a hospital, she will be birth with a midwife at home. She is due mid-May.
So that perspective thing. Five days ago, the above items were not going on.
At home, I recommend some strategic thinking. Start planning the household chores in your favor. It would be very smart planning to get home and announce:
"Until this virus situation goes away, I'm going to step up and help by walking the dog twice a day every day and in addition I'll take the garbage out."
Depending where you live these may be the only times you step out of your flat for a little while.
Let's hope for some nice Spanish sunshine tomorrow. We'll be here making ceramics.
March 19, 2020
Day 5 Last Update: "Yeah I know I'm a target, thanks."
Sun today, and the jasmine on our terrace smells wonderful.
This is our last update. We started this as an email that got a little big. The intention was to try and give folks a little running start without causing too much apprehension. Now that Las Vegas is shut down there are many other sources of information and news to follow. We’re going to get back to making ceramics.
If some other eventful items happen we’ll drop a note. If anyone has specific questions drop us a note.
So that global pandemic. Last few items.
If you know some young folks, could you remind them that this is not only killing old folks.
Spain’s numbers are still going up. Now we’re at 13,000- tests confirmed an 18% increase from yesterday. Deaths, yes people are dying no need to get into numbers.
Folks here are more relaxed now. It seems to have taken 3 to 4 days to get all adjusted to the new situation and are moving forward the best we can with the new situation.
The new items that look likely to increase stress again - the health system trying to keep pace. Supplies, beds, personnel.
- “Low-risk” (young) medical staff that might have been exposed to the virus are being asked to continue working instead of going into quarantine for 14 days.
- Protective gear is sporadically short. New hospital beds are being set up as fast as they can.
You can make more beds, masks and other supplies. Medical personnel have a pretty long production time.
This is happening with 13,000 confirmed infections in a country of 46 million people, and the third most efficient health system in the world (1@13:08, 2, 3, 4 All based on same report).
Just something to consider - what can you do to help in your community?
My 86 year-old neighbor out walking his dog this morning shouted across the street to his friend, “Yeah I know I'm a target, thanks.” Then continued on his way.
March 23, 2020
Day 9 Update: Feel good numbers - sort of.
Well, I'm sending a note as we're getting a few questions. So just a quick update from Barcelona.
Sun’s out and the weather is getting nice. Still a little chill in the morning, but in a few weeks it’ll be awesome.
As for the global pandemic. It’s getting much more real for folks. There are still a few (unbelievable) that don’t get it. It’s our first weekend where the streets are sealed off so folks can’t head out of the city.
When we go out there are (in our neighborhood) 4 to 5 people out walking dogs or getting food. Here’s a photo of our usually busy street this morning, downtown Barcelona.
Four days ago we had about 13,000 infections. Today we have about 28,500. Currently in Spain the death rate is about one person dying of the virus every 3 minutes and 35 seconds [see correction note below]. Fourteen days ago we had 999 infections.
All non-essential businesses are shut effective this weekend. Contractors, public works, etc. Madrid shut it’s subway and Barcelona had its frequency way down
70 of Spain’s top scientists are asking for an immediate stopping of ALL activity for 21 days otherwise the health system will begin to fail this Wednesday.
I’ve discovered that global pandemics can be pretty darn distracting. Each of us find a way to understand and react to the situations around us. Make sure you are aware of this and give everyone their space to process things. Folks need time and information. Be kind. Be patient.
Those who know me will not be surprised that I gather data and build models. It helps me understand what’s going on and where we might end up in the future.
Some asked what my charts look like. It might help some understand the rate of growth. It's simple. Don't rely on this, please. I’m sharing this one model I have as it shows the growth rate and where things might be in a few communities coming up.
My big takeaway from the model is to help make decisions of “should I go out or not, to do whatever?” Food, banking, dog walking, etc. So if that's surprising question to you, you may want to really think about what's going on around you and take some action. I was not thinking about that question let alone the answer in February.
After building this, it was clear to me that action now is exponentially less risky than it will be tomorrow. Therefore act now, not tomorrow.
The other item is that it helped me model when we here in Barcelona should expect it very very difficult to get medical care. It’s a pretty darn practical thing to know during a pandemic. So I’ve added dates based on the information I have today. I’m certain I’m wrong on the date (plus everything else), but think about it and you get an idea or direction.
For all those small and medium business owners out there, if you have not yet or are hesitating. Cash cash cash. I would seriously consider not paying any bills. If you are still open, I would convert everything that I could to cash. Note refer to the “future area” of the model.
For those thinking about getting things delivered. That’s not working here now. It was 4 days ago. All grocery stores deliver in our area, none have any capacity to deliver. Note refer to the “future area” of the model.
So my project this week is to convert our bike into a stationary bike. Wendy looked for a cheap one online, all are sold out. Starting to look for a few DIY plans online.
So that’s it. If you have any questions let us know. The world is still a wonderful and nice place with fascinating and kind people. It’s just got this virus floating around in it right now. Remember to smile, it’s just a global pandemic, there’s only so much you can do.
March 29, 2020
Day 16 Update: Global pandemic + Quarantine + Head Lice.
So we’re still here making ceramics in Barcelona.
Woke up a few days ago to discover my 2 ½’ tall black hairy friend with a tail had little white, very tiny - like magnifying glass tiny - white bugs crawling on her. So that was concerning.
Well I guess that counts as a pandemic reason to leave the house and head over to the vet which has a microscope with some of the little white, very very tiny, bugs - minus the dog.
Speaking of little bugs, that pandemic.
We’re now finishing up two weeks staying at home. It looks like our local population infection rate has reached 0.1%. We’ll be at 0.2% tomorrow, 0.5% in one week and 1.3% in two weeks. The ICU beds are basically full, though they are bringing on capacity as fast as they can. Here's a link to the spreadsheet and the source data for Barcelona and a few cities in North America.
Down at the port of Barcelona they are manufacturing basic ventilators from 3D printers, other parts and a downloadable design from Rice University. Folks are sewing masks, and hand making face shields in their homes for cleaners, cashiers, and other workers to free up masks for healthcare workers.
In addition, the Spanish government is receiving 500 million masks next week to help get through a few weeks, they are sourcing more. France ordered 1 billion masks. Airbus is running emergency freight flights between China and Europe to bring in supplies.
Folks are asking what life is like in Barcelona right now. This article yesterday was a pretty fair depiction of it, plus much better written than I ever could.
We’re now being asked to stay home for another two weeks with more restrictive measures of only essential services allowed (food, health, communication).
We also have new infection protocols from the government for when we go outside. The government is noting that “family spread” is causing a lot of infections. That means when one person goes out to get food, work etc. and comes home and gets everyone sick. So now when we go out food shopping - when we get home:
- We have a plastic bag where we drop our keys, wallets and leave at the front door
- We have “outside” shoes and leave these by the door
- We immediately wash our hands for 20 seconds without touching anything when getting home
- We take off our clothes, place in a plastic bag then take to the washing machine and wash at at least 60º C
- We shower
- We disinfect our phone and any glasses we were wearing.
Needless to say we don’t run out to get ice cream.
Good news is the rate of new infections is slowing. From 20% locally and nationally has moved in the past week down to 10-12%. Though even if we slow more, and hopefully we do we’ll still have 3 to 4x that amount of infections in 10 to 14 days. In sum, the sooner you get going (err stopping) the sooner it can be managed.
Wendy and I look at news and talk with folks in North America. Every single time we get off the phone, video call or finish reading the article we say “They still don’t get it.”
For what it's worth, it’s fine to be afraid of this stuff. I hope it’s a normal human reaction. I had my first ever panic attack the other day. I guess it happens, you adapt, get your head wrapped around it and move forward.
Well this is a big puzzle.
Debt, inflation, interest rates, bankruptcy, liquidity - kind of like an entire economic zoo for which I really don’t want an entrance ticket.
Having spent time in Argentina right after the end of one of their seemingly endless episodes of hyperinflation, way off in the distance (like 3 to 6 months - that’s a joke) one thing I'm keeping an eye on is inflation.
Here’s a little article that gives a simple framework how to think about recovery. Super basic, kind of a let down. Though in these circumstances there is so much unknown, that they basically can’t write anything more cause no one knows. Let’s just hope to be like Canada and not Greece.
How does this all end?
It will end, the sun will come up and things will be good. I envision it ending with me being with Wendy and all of my friends on a sunny weekend day at the park cooking up some delicious barbeque.
I found this article about the 1918 spanish flu and policy responses helpful in thinking about what to do. In sum I took away four things:
- Local governments act sooner rather than later (you cannot act soon enough)
- By acting you can decrease deaths by 50%
- Local actions are more important than grand national plans
- This will take 12 to 20 more weeks to get clarity on a distant end game (healthwise).
(As random Internet searches tell me), it’s referred to as the Spanish Flu because Spain was one of the few countries that kept detailed national data about the outbreak.
Despite the political speculation at the end. This article I thought layed out where we all end up in a few months.
So I’m off to work on some ceramics Internet marketing and Wendy is in the studio making ceramics.
Oh, those little white bugs were not lice. They were due to humidity and birds coming into the city now that the humans are not out on the streets. Who knew. So just a pandemic to deal with, with that perspective things are not so bad.
If you want updates to this here's a link to sign-up. Share if you think it would help someone rather than scare them - please be considerate and conscientious.
Hope to see you at that barbeque. Oh, don't forget to wash your hands.
April 5, 2020
Day 23 Update: The View From the Top - It Sucks.
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.
- We started stay-at-home 23 days ago with about 5,000 active infections
- At two weeks into the stay-at-home - 10 days ago - we had about 40,000 active infections growing at 16% a day
- Now almost three weeks into stay-at-home - we have about 80,000 active infections growing at 2% a day
- 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.)
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.
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.
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.
May 17, 2020
Day 65 Update: Day 65...really??
Greetings from Barcelona, yep the world is still spinning and the sun came up today. Been getting a few requests so here’s an update from this part of the world.
The numbers 1... 2... 3...
So the Spanish government announced their three phase plan to reopen the economy. The entire country moved to the first phase two weeks ago. Though those tricky politicians moved everyone to Phase 0. Yep, it’s a FOUR part plan.
With the first phase we can go outside, during specific hours, for one hour a day and walk around. That’s it.
This past week every place in Spain moved to Phase 1, except for Madrid and Barcelona. So basically 50% of the population is still stuck at the mysterious Phase 0.
We’ve been at this for 65 days and we're both pretty happy with being stuck at Phase 0.
The basic numbers:
- In our neighborhood (Poble Sec) we’ve had a little under 250 confirmed and tested cases which comes to about 2.2% of the population.
- Total suspected cases in Catalunya runs about 3.1x the confirmed count. So we’ve had about 775 cases within 1/4mile of our home. So it’s really about 6.8% of the population has been infected.
- These numbers track pretty well with the comprehensive study of the Spanish population just released that 5% of the population was infected. With Madrid seeing about 10-12% and Barcelona at 7% infection rates.
Reality. Here’s a collection of photos taken in my neighborhood. These are our neighbors, that’s our health clinic 2 blocks away.
So why are we OK with being stuck at “Phase 0”?
- 25,000 new cases were reported in Catalunya (like your state or province) in the last 7 days. Of those 12,000 of the new cases were reported within 2 miles of our home.
- Today there are 20,800 active cases in Catalunya - this is the highest the number has ever been. About half are here in the city of Barcelona.
- Deaths are going down, infection rates are going down but the number of folks actively infected is going up.
- Our new infection rate has been bouncing around about +0.5% a day for the past week.
In sum, with just 5% of the population infected this is what happened when the infections got out of control. It’s taken 65 (plus) days to get it under some control to under 0.5% new infections per day.
Thanks, but we’ll hang out at Phase 0 for a little while longer.
Opening up and operating like before?
Basically our thoughts from Barcelona looking to other places is “insanity”.
No, no, no don’t do it.
We don’t know each situation, but you’ll see in 3 weeks the results, they just might be horrific.
As best we can sum it up: we live in a new world. Going back to living as before just doesn’t work right now.
One final thought on numbers, opening, closing and death. We recently asked ourselves “what if this doesn’t go away?” Kind of like AIDS, all those vaccines and miracle science just can’t quite cut it. It might be worth the effort to think that through a bit.
Our first 65 days, right now our planning horizon is life is like this for at least the next two years. So we’re about 10% of our way through kind of clawing back to life as before.
Business and economics
So how the heck is this going to work? The world has this virus floating around so lots and lots of things have to change.
It’s quite the challenge. Here’s a fun read, a 33 page government document (in Spanish) describing the precautions businesses must take to re-open. Lot’s a bleach and social distancing from now onwards.
We’re seeing it is going to be that hard just to re-open - like really really hard. Way more than we imagined.
There is a giant list of entire economic sectors that I cannot for the life of me see how any make any money in the next two years. Other areas look promising...
Not so good: Airlines, Cruise Ships, Hotels, Tourist Services, Car Rental, Bike Rental, Tour Boats, Amusement Parks, Museums, Concerts, Restaurants and Bars, Shopping Malls, Movie Theaters, Bus Companies, Taxi’s, “Sharing Anything Companies”, Clothing Manufacture and Retail, Auto/Plane/Boat/Bus Manufacturing, Gyms, Oil and Gas Industry, Refineries, Team Sports, Retail Property Owners, Home and Furniture Retail, Event Ticketing, Advertising Agencies, Resorts (any), Bowling Alleys, Casinos. Oh and the most painful of them all - “All You Can Eat Buffets”
Oh the lucky ones: Pharmacies, Tobacco Shops, Grocery Stores, Liquor Stores, Garden Centers, Bike Shops, Motorcycle and Scooter Shops, Technology Services, Bakeries, Ecommerce, Package Delivery, Home Fitness anything, Laundromats, Teachers, Nurses, Doctors, Urban Planners, Financial (non-mortgage), Insurance, Online Content (any).
12% of Spain's GDP is from tourism, think how Florida, Alaska, Nevada and Hawaii will fare.
Most businesses here in Barcelona are still closed. I expect many small businesses will never open again and those small businesses that do re-open will find it very tough to survive. It looks like Nissan is closing their car manufacturing permanently.
A quick view of random data points from my block - 200 feet of Barcelona:
- The taxi driver that took me and my sick dog to the hospital said his fares were about 20% of normal. He usually is about 50% tourists and 50% locals.
- Bar de Perez, the local owner, opened up last week. Her early morning work crowd is not there. No one is allowed inside - only window service. 1 to 2 people stopping by for a coffee. Best estimate 20-30% normal.
- Backpacker’s hostel. Was operating on thin margins. Been closed for 60 days. Probably might reopen in 2021.
- Architects office on the corner. Closed down, they packed everything into a van at the end of April. They are not coming back.
- Theatre / Comedy School. They’ve been closed since March. Maybe they are doing something online? I hope so.
- Construction company. A pretty good size 50 -70 person company. Only open for emergencies. Thus impacting the local bar above.
- Blai Street (around the corner) is a well known pedestrian street with about 30-40 bars and restaurants. All closed, heavily reliant on tourists. I’d give 50% a chance of opening again with the same owners before 2021.
Who will still be here in 2021?
In general, we’re seeing the businesses that might have a chance of surviving are the ones that are currently open - someway somehow. Getting cash in the door and moving inventory. Those that have dug-in and worked at creating a new way to make money have a chance to stand up tomorrow.
The ones we’re very skeptical about are the ones that are “waiting” to re-open and continue their previous business model. My thoughts: “It won’t work - it can’t work.”
How we’re looking at this…
The can’t list:
- No in person classes - not until 2021 at least
- No tourist groups - not until 2021 at least
- No weekend markets - they are closed, and we’re not real excited about all the folks
- No inside retail - our space is too small
- No restaurant sales - no one is opening a new restaurant anytime soon
So what’s the small business plan for the rest of 2020?
Retail sales. We’re opening up our retail shop. Though we cannot allow anyone inside as it’s too small. So we are displaying products in the window and converting the doorway into a display. That way local folks can buy something without having to come into the shop. We’re making smaller, more affordable items as the tourists are all gone.
Build online sales. We’re full-time building up our online sales through advertising, social media, product placement you name it we’re giving it a shot to see what works. Last month we shipped stuff to folks in Europe, North America and Australia. Little by little we’re growing this part of our business. Amazing, this month we have a thing called an “order list”. It’s not a long list, but hey we have one.
Corporate/designer sales. Working to contact designers, wedding planners and larger companies that have clients or budget for our products. We’ve got one customer evaluating samples. So a little bit there.
Expand our space. We’re pretty tight on space and had plans to expand our space. We finally got our building permit approved, yep even during a pandemic. For the new retail/showroom space we are working on revising the plans to fit our new world.
So by the end of 2020, just maybe we’ll have:
- Viable online sales channel
- More corporate/designer clients
- New larger (Covid-ready) retail ceramics showroom
- New larger ceramics studio
- New artist residency studio - apartment space
Small business folks
From our perspective this isn’t a “survive wait and see” moment. Go build something that inspires you.
Stuff is moving around very quickly. That is opportunity, take advantage of it. There’s a lot unknown, limit as best you can future risk, and get moving.
Take decisive action. Get up, get going and play to win.
Folks with ideas send them on over.
Hope you all stay healthy and safe in our new world.
If you know of anyone that needs corporate gifts, getting married, just broke a plate or is in need of a fine handmade coffee cup (more online soon) here’s how we can help out.
Oh and wash your hands,
Wendy and Eric
Taller Gingell Barcelona
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