I’m not a fan of the term “new normal”; to me it implies some very abnormal behaviors and attitudes are here to stay.
    Of course, I cannot deny the reality things have changed. The million-dollar question on most peoples’ minds is: how long will they remain this way? More recently I have also found myself wondering: which of these changes are here permanently and which might eventually fade away?
    It’s impossible to know for sure. The only thing I’m certain of is the present IS our current reality, and your attitude about it is paramount.
    “Whatever life may send your way – make the best of it,” motivational speaker Les Brown says. “Don’t waste your time and energy worrying about it. Instead, find a way to do something about it. Learn from it, adjust to it, be strong, be flexible and be your best in every situation.”
    Our July/August 2020 issue focuses on just that: Excelling in the “New Normal”. It’s jam-packed with stories, advice, predictions and analysis with a singular focus: helping you be the best owner possible during these turbulent times.
    The good news is a lot of boutiques are thriving. The worst-case scenarios many feared in March – that we’d still be locked down at the time of this writing with a plethora of businesses closing – did not happen. Yes, there has been some pain but in general reopenings for many began in early May and, in addition to a big sigh of relief, brought with them some silver linings: smaller appointments with fewer dissenting voices to derail the bride; opportunities to ask questions of customers you wouldn’t ordinarily get to, making it easier to build that relationship; a chance for your stylists to pull dresses that actually fit the bride, enhancing their perception as professionals; and – the heart and soul it all – higher close ratios.
    These positives do not negate the fact challenges remain. In addition to the reality of rising virus numbers in certain areas, and the subsequent pausing or even rolling back of some reopenings, there are many questions: How do you maintain normal revenue with half the appointments? When will big weddings and events return? How do you read a bride’s facial expression if she’s wearing a mask? The list goes on.
    I hope that within these pages you will find some answers. As always, I welcome your thoughts and commentary: shannon@vowsmagazine.com

    On a personal note, I wanted to add some insight as a shopper to give voice to the opposite perspective. I’ve heard from a number of retailers who are frustrated by brides’ behavior. Either they’re slipping back into annoying pre-COVID behaviors (not entirely a bad thing, in my opinion, as it indicates some level of comfort and normalcy is rebounding) or they’re unusually tense/unpleasant to work with. Customers upset about reduced appointment sizes or having to wear a mask are common issues.
    In fairness to these brides, shopping lately feels like navigating a minefield. You could go to two different stores in the same mall and have completely opposite experiences. The safety regulations imposed, the level of enforcement and the attitudes of staff vary drastically from place to place. What is allowed or expected in one store might get you chewed out in another. Other customers aren’t always pleasant to each other. There is a lot of stress, fear, fatigue and annoyance in the air. It’s difficult to know what to expect, and it makes the entire shopping process less enjoyable, putting many people on edge.
    So. . . if brides or their guests arrive to your store less than cheerful and seemingly stressed. . . please show them some grace. They’re just trying to do their best to figure it out, much like we all are. This, too, shall pass.