Berlin, June 2020
Who remembers these days?
It feels like it was just last weekend doesn’t it? Well unfortunately in this case…it was! As a resident here in Berlin Germany I have to say that I am not surprised. People are stir-crazy! We’ve been ‘locked’ up for the last 3 months and while the dog is turning into a circus trick freak, I think we can all agree that longer warmer days are stirring nostalgic desires for movement and interaction with other people again.
One of the cornerstones of our public spaces is retail, all kinds.
Shopping for the essentials has been one of my guilty pleasures; in spite of waiting in lines on the street for the grocery store, jostling strangers in the aisles in smaller shops, and of course the nagging concern that every time I go out there is a greater than 1 chance I will eventually be infected and infect someone with Covid-19.
Even after 15 years creating customer experiences it never fail to surprise me the efforts people will make to be together. Forget about the malls and big shopping or going out districts, those places are magnets for crowds even now. Think about your LOCALs. All of the stores, restaurants and services I use daily. Seeing couples and small groups in changing rooms squeezed together in order to check out their prospective new outfits. The nervous couple rammed up against the door in order to fit a ‘romantic’ two-top reservation that was forgotten at the bar. 06:00 in the morning, heavy breathing and steam cloud hanging over a trail of runners snaking around a parking lot; their pace marked with the clang of steel hitting mats inside the open garage door of a crossfit studio.
And my personal favourite, street markets, everything screams togetherness; farmers with open tables full of fresh produce, milk and eggs, crafters selling handmade and locally produced goods while we casually stroll along peeking, picking up, chatting with the seller until it just feels right and we buy whatever it is in our hand at that moment. Most of the pleasure we get from the purchase is the connection it gives us. Either creating a new memory, reliving a past one, or the anticipation of the enjoyment we are still to take away. As we say back in Texas, “If it don’t feel right, I ain’t buyin’.”
How do we get that feeling back?
Fortunately there is a simple answer, get back together. Does this mean a blanket return to pre Covid-19 social life? No, not a stampede off the cliff, but guided, measured, tracked, improved. In the last months we have all probably reduced our consumption to the necessities, but with relaxed social restrictions you not only need to wear pants but might want to actually meet some friends in person and do absolutely anything again. These days this means a little bit more planning, and a lot more patience.
Yes, you will be able to shop at the boutique around the corner, get a haircut, take the kids to the zoo, and meet people out at a restaurant or cafe. You can do all of these things like before, but in limited numbers and with businesses that are themselves knocking the dust off. Trying to manage new regulations and provide you with the same amazing service.
Reconnect the Local Economy.
Measured, tracked and improved. We live in a time that is so ahead of itself that our science fiction stories have warped into a dystopian slide leading straight from fantasy into reality. We have video communication around the world at our fingertips, information systems capable of influencing people’s emotions, and a global pandemic. At the same time in my little neighbourhood I don’t know if the line at the post office is 3 people deep or down the block, or if the gym will be full when I want to go and workout.
The technology exists, the need exists, and the time is now.
Are you facing any of the following challenges as a customer or a business owner?
- Hi and Lo traffic in-store
- Long Lines
- Staffing – too many or too few
- Capacity restrictions
- Hygiene /Health & Safety regulations
- Limited time
- Contact Tracing
- Walk-In traffic
Reach out for support.
I am looking for brick and mortar retailers, corporate, private, franchise store owners, small – mid – large boutiques, gyms, restaurants, cafes, etc. who are reopening to the public in the face of public space restrictions, hygiene requirements, and health and safety concerns. (Could that be everyone?!) I am also looking for community organisers on the ‘smallest’ scale possible. A neighbourhood association, hobby and sports groups, parents’ clubs, etc.
These groups are invited to participate in a pilot program testing a smartphone and web based application designed and developed for local economic redevelopment. It is focused on the storefront businesses and people who have and are still facing the challenges caused by the global pandemic and its social and economic repercussions.
If you are in the USA, UK, or BRASIL, or have contacts in those countries please reach out urgently.
Be Safe, Be Well.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I am leaving you with a little treat from someone who has brought so many together over the years.