March 30, 2020
By Tina Harding
In these truly challenging and unsure days, all our members are inventing and reinventing ways to sustain their businesses — and themselves. So many of us have had to create new ways to communicate with our colleagues and each other — many, many of them now working at home. As we navigate this time — with no fixed date for a return to normalcy — we would like to offer a series of weekly blogs that are “Dispatches from Home.” Our authors will send ideas about how they are coping with this emergency — with tips, innovations and good humor. We hope that all the varied people in our community help each other, survive and thrive during these incredibly difficult days, and arrive on the other side of this national emergency with their spirits — and businesses — intact.
When I wrote this blog this morning, I thought our museum would be the last to reopen. Reading today’s Shoptalk posts has shaken my thinking and rattled my perspective.
No matter when the ban on opening is lifted, our annual opening date will have passed. With no interim events planned, the Historic Deerfield museum store’s new opening day will be Friday, May 15.
How are you selling products?
Unlike many of my colleagues, I am at the office Monday through Friday. With my marketing department’s help, we are using social media to highlight in-stock books written by the speakers whose lectures are now canceled. Normally, we do not have a great response rate, but this time our members and friends stepped up. It was a lovely to see the orders fly in — not so lovely was realizing I was the only one to process and ship all these orders.
How are you interacting with your customers?
When filing all the paperwork, I noticed I mistakenly shipped two books by USPS when the customer had requested and paid for a FedEx delivery. I emailed him, relayed the mistake, apologized and offered a refund. Surprisingly, he wrote the kindest note telling me he understood and to keep the money. This short, sweet note made my day. I didn’t feel so alone; I no longer felt my work was unrecognized. A little kindness in this turbulent time is a wonderful thing.
How are you keeping busy?
I continue to keep busy, adding items to both our internet and Amazon site. I’ll work on more social media posts, and clean, clean, clean. The hardest part of being here alone is standing strong in the face of a tempting display of the internationally award-winning chocolate.
Things are changing daily for all of us. By the time you read this, there may be very different news from here. We are working apart, but we are together.
Tina Harding is the director of merchandising at Historic Deerfield. She has held this position for 10 years. She oversees all aspects of retail store management while also managing a robust wholesale division. Her museum retailing career began at Old Sturbridge Village where she also served as director of merchandising for 10 years.