Janet Corey owns Fan Tan Home & Style in downtown Victoria. She’s been in retail most of her life, first in her family’s men’s wear stores, then as the owner of Kitchen Charisma, and now of Fan Tan. She is well known for her artful selection of home and lifestyle goods with a West Coast flair.
How is Fan Tan Store coping right now, and how do your team feel about how it will all play out?
Before the COVID-19 crisis I had a staff of twelve. Now my team consists of myself and my manager. We are dividing our time between the store and working from our homes. We are taking advantage of this quiet time to build our new point of sale system, researching options for our ecommerce site and working on an updated business plan. Every aspect of my business is being evaluated and I am looking at this situation as an opportunity to reset.
How has the crisis affected your business, and how do you anticipate it will continue to affect it?
We closed our doors temporarily on Wednesday March 18 which was something I never imagined would happen. With no sales coming in this crisis has affected my business immensely. To lose my staff has been so hard and I am concerned that we will lose our customer base as well. The financial strain on everyone involved is staggering!
What advice are you giving yourself and your team for riding this out?
I am making every effort to stay positive and look for opportunities that present themselves while our doors are closed. Staying connected with family, friends, staff, customers and suppliers is key.
What is the opportunity in the challenge for you and your business?
People that know me know that I live and breathe my business. It has been good for me to take this time to look after myself. I am walking everyday (to burn off the countless bags of M&Ms that I have consumed). I have been spending quality time with my daughters. I also have been in contact with friends and family. I have been staying connected to my fellow local shop owners through social media as we weather the storm together.
As for my business, it’s time for me to catch up. Together with my manager, we have been working hard unpacking new stock, creating new displays and freshening up every corner of the store.
What advice have you applied or are you applying from previous experiences coping through crises?
Nothing has prepared me for this! Saying this though, adversity in my life has taught me to stop, breathe, and remind myself what is most important. I now have the chance to think about the big picture and I am making the most of this quiet time.
What are your resources right now? Do you have a mentor supporting you, peer group, books you read?
I am lucky to have some knowledgeable people in my corner. My accountant is a great sounding board and a reality checker. Financial statements don’t lie. She is quick to tell me what is possible and what is not. In February, I had a meeting with my financial advisor to discuss our global economy. He pointed out at that time I should count on a downturn and consider reducing my expenses. I was also advised to consider my supply chain. My store is filled with products produced globally. I made the decision to top up on inventory from my key manufacturers because it could be several months before I receive goods after this crisis subsides. Our stock levels are higher than normal for spring but will carry us through many months of selling.
Over the years I have tried my best to build strong relationships with my suppliers and I am receiving advice that has become very valuable. I am also feeling supported by our Federal and Provincial Government who are working tirelessly to help Canadians. As I watch the news it makes me proud and feel fortunate to live here.
What advice do you have for others experiencing this alongside you?
I am an emotional person who wears her heart on her sleeve. But I have learned when a crisis happens in business hard decisions must be made. I would strongly suggest re-evaluating your business plan or create a new one. It doesn’t need to be in a formal format. Review all your expenses, concentrate on what makes your business successful and what doesn’t. I am examining every aspect. Stock, advertising, staffing, and basically any overhead costs need to be considered. Running a business is about balancing your passion with the bottom line.