What does New Normal mean?

One of the more ridiculous things I did during quarantine - setting up a fantasy textile filled rickshaw photoshoot in my yard!

I have been urging my three kids to keep a journal during this strange Coronavirus time, but they, like me, have had a hard time recording the minutiae of our days.  For them not much has happened, except logging onto their schools' daily virtual assignments, chatting with their friends online, and bickering with each other about absolutely everything in our small universe.   

For us business owners, however, the inability to record thoughts comes from our overwhelming anxiety and fear of the unknown.  Navigating the turmoil has been a nonstop swimming in place drill, trying to keep our proverbial heads above water.  Now that we are months into this thing though, I want to try and get some of these thoughts down, knowing that it really will be important to look back and remember what the heck we were all thinking during this time.  

The weeks we were closed, before the containers came in, I made and remade every vignette.  Outside of the photoshoots I did, the store was a crazy mess - piles of pillows and accessories just out of the lens's eye!

As a business that relies on travel, we don't know what the next year is going to look like for TDL.  Fortunately we had two containers that were already on the water before the entire world shut down.  We are so well stocked right now with treasures from our India and Morocco containers that we will weather the slow summer months just fine for inventory.  What will happen after this summer is another question. 

Once the containers came in and we brought our wonderful staff back, things started to look really lovely again!

We were able to open back up on Friday May 8th.  With 12,000 square feet of showroom space, it is an easy place to socialy distance oneself while perusing all the bounty the store has to offer.  Our hearts soared seeing familiar faces behind the ubiquitous masks that first day.  So many folk told us our shop was the very first place they visited out of quarantine.  I cried in the car on the way home, overcome with gratitude.  The joy of helping people again, and telling the tales of all our oddities is what makes the store such a destination - not just for customers, but for us as shopkeepers.  We live for this interaction. 

Morocco is always one of our very favorite containers of the year - it was so hard to receive it with no customers there to see it.

All these weeks of being shuttered we tried our best to interact with you all online and by phone.  We sent hundreds of photos, took videos of our vignettes and choices of pillows, lamps, and furniture.  We scheduled private shopping one on one with no one else in the shop.  We -- actually - I - made some ridiculous how-to montages on our Instagram to attempt to connect.  (I saved them on our Highlights if you're curious - still pretty embarrassed but I know I will be glad I saved them someday!). But nothing compares to seeing you all in person, and helping, from a safe distance, make your houses into homes that are interesting, inviting, and intimate - into a refuge for all the insanity out there.      

Another kooky photoshoot I did in quarantine is set up our pop up camper as a backyard glamping destination with piles of pillows and bedding from India, Uzbekistan, and Turkey.  My dog, Poppy relished the extra places for lounging.

I don't know what the next few months will look like.  We have part of a container waiting to be finalized in Turkey that is in limbo, we have trips to India, Guatemala, and Bali that have been put off.  We don't know when it will be safe or smart financially to start buying again, who knows if the uncertain economy will allow us to keep our store full to bursting as it usually is. 

When we finally opened it was so wonderful to show everyone the treasures that had poured in while we were closed.

I remember back during the recession, how empty the shop got by the end.  We had just moved in to our current location on Hayden during the peak of the boom that preceded the real estate bubble's dramatic bursting.  After the best year we ever had, everything came crashing down so spectacularly.  I also gave birth to twins during that time - so let me tell you, it was all quite a blur!  There are parallels so clear this time around.  Once again we had a killer last couple of years.  We traveled more, bought record numbers of containers, and expanded into new product ideas and custom designs that we are really proud of.  To see that all coming unhinged is incredibly frustrating - but I do feel like we are stronger after weathering the last downturn.  We learned a lot about staying strong, and we are lucky enough to be surrounded by the best staff the store has certainly ever had. 

Right when you walk in our now open doors - lots of color and drama!

I do believe, whatever happens, that we can get through this and come out on the other side with lots of trips to schedule, containers to fill, and new stories to tell.  We recently, quietly, celebrated our 29th anniversary of opening way back in 1991.  Crises we have seen for sure in these decades, and while this one is a whopper, I know we will be here - making fabulous messes, helping spread the word of handmade, village based, old and unusual - all the things we love, for many years to come.  

I can't wait to start traveling again with my favorite people in all the world.  It will happen! 
Cheers to 29 years of TDL! 




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