Today marks one year since Fancy Tiger Crafts closed our brick-and-mortar location for in-store shopping due to COVID-19. We were finally able to re-open just one week ago and welcome customers back into our store, though many things have changed--both in the store and in our collective lives.
2020 was a year unlike any other for all of us here at Fancy Tiger Crafts. In addition to making changes in our business to adjust (sometimes very rapidly), we experienced a lot of changes in our personal lives, as well. Just like everyone, this was often a mix of positive and painful, but we went through it together as a staff and with our wonderful customers, who were with us every step of the way. We would like to welcome you, again, to take a look back on 2020 with us through the photos and words of our staff.
The beginning seems like the right place to start: On March 16, 2021, Fancy Tiger Crafts made the difficult decision to close for a month while Denver shut down for quarantine.
This was early pandemic. The Tiger King days. The sourdough days. We already had a few avid bakers on staff, and they were more than happy to lend starter and advice while we engaged in baking. So much baking.
In fact, many members of our staff are talented chefs and bakers, and that first month was an opportunity to really indulge in that hobby.
At the time, it seemed like a welcome break, and we all still thought it was temporary. At the end of that month, however, it was clear that nothing about the pandemic was temporary. We needed to figure out how to move forward, and how to keep our staff and community safe.
"Once the store closed, we went all online. With restricted numbers, we weren't able to have all the staff in-store. Social media may be the online face of Fancy Tiger, but the back-end work all still had to get done."
While we tackled the monumental task of listing all of our products online for the first time, we joined the Governor's mask initiative and got to work making masks to get them to the people in our community who needed them the most. So many of our customers stepped up and put some serious mileage on their sewing machines to do the same.
Through all of this, we not only had in-store staff members attempting to rapidly adjust to a completely new way of doing business, but staff members who were now home-bound and had to figure out ways to completely re-invent their jobs.
"After years of seeing the same coworkers and customers and getting into these comfortable routines, now I might only see somebody in passing on a Zoom call. I remember Negley heard my voice during a quick meeting call and popped over to try to do a rapid-fire catch up of a TV show we had both been watching prior to lockdown. It was so isolating and strange to be disconnected like that, but still working."
There was also the looming question of how to provide much-needed content and classes to our community. Kids were now at home, and our customers were stuck in their homes with no way to connect.
Christina stepped up to plan and film tutorials with Mindy's help to do a weekly "Kids Crafternoon" to keep bored kiddos occupied and engaged during the spring and summer. The amount of content she put out was staggering, and so many of you told us how much you loved these weekly episodes.
Likewise, Rae started filming and uploading weekly knitting tutorial videos, even coordinating them with leading two knit-along projects through the year. We were so lucky to work with designers Dawn Henderson and Francoise Danoy during this time. We were even able to have a live lecture on Cultural History Through Patterns with Francoise on Zoom to offer to our customers.
Meanwhile, our in-store staff was trying to deal with shipping woes and customer questions while getting an unprecedented amount of packages out the door every day. Now that it wasn't a retail space, the store shifted to become more of a warehouse and shipping space, with focus being on streamlining the process, rather than merchandising.
The challenges of work, combined with the lack of predictability, structure, and stability in daily life definitely took a toll on us all. When putting this blog together, we realized just how much grief and uncertainty we each went through, but there were lots of joys, too.
"Last year kind of felt like a black hole where time didn't exist. At least, not in any way I was familiar with. ...But, looking back over my photos, I realized that while the year was full of grieving, loss, and lots and lots and lots of change, it was also ultimately full of a lot of light spots and growth."
For a lot of us, those light spots involved extra time with our pets (some of whom had mixed feelings about how much time we were spending at home).
Of course, we collectively took solace in what brought us together in the first place: crafting. It was quite literally the thread that kept us sewn together in a year that wanted to fray all of our edges.
"My crafting shifted from gifting to making things I actually wanted to make for ME. While the pandemic has felt very distancing, it's given space to do some self-work and thought. It's been incredibly valuable in an absolutely terrible time."
There is so much we could say about so many things that happened over the last 12 months, but we think it would be best to leave you with some of the photos that our staff sent in, and let their visual experience speak for us.
We will simply say, we are still here--and we're glad you are, too.