- Mike Weisgram
Update & Miscellaneous Thoughts
As I look outside our front window, Mother Nature is reminding me who is in charge. Nearly 70 degrees yesterday and 19 degrees today. South Dakota is the land of infinite variety.
Even though I have begun to install the large 4’x8’ exterior “I Like Mike” signs on the properties of my supporters (outside of the City limits), my focus today is larger than the campaign. I am thinking about public health and small business continuation. Obviously, the daily concern of the COVID-19 virus is gripping the nation and is hitting home with news of more cases in South Dakota.
During World War II, our ancestors were asked to conserve their use of gas, food, and clothing purchases. Ration stamps were issued and used to buy allotments of everything from meat, sugar, butter, vegetables, fruit, gas, tires, clothing, and fuel oil. People were asked to do with less so the troops would have enough as they fought for our freedom.
Fast forward to today. Our fight against COVID-19 is being compared to a war. And, really, it’s a war for the safety of our citizens to conduct life as we have come to know it. The fight looks very different from the typical war, however. We are being asked to stay home, limit our exposure to others, pay extra attention to hand washing and general hygiene. Compared to combat or event mandatory rationing, this seems a simple thing to do. And while it is simple, I still find it difficult. Nevertheless, Judy and I are keeping our movements and interactions to a minimum.I believe it is the responsible thing to do.
Please heed our leaders’ requests and voluntarily be a good citizen for the health and wellbeing of yourselves, your loved ones, and our community. A small sacrifice to help win this war.
With less movement comes the snowball effect--less commerce for our local businesses. Whether it is the hesitant consumer or mandated restrictions and/or closings, these circumstances are tough for a small business to negotiate.
Thinking back to an experience I had with our flooring store in the early 1980’s, I am reminded of the fear and anxiety that business owners feel. Our retail store opened in the fall of 1977 and experienced some early successes as the “new kid on the block” notoriety. We were eager, energetic, not afraid to bid on any opportunity, naive, and pretty “hand to mouth” regarding finances. Four or so years later, we were struggling. Business was not robust and luck had not been on our side. During that time, we made several adjustments, including not rehiring an open position, talking frequently with our creditors, offering new products, and becoming more disciplined with expenses--our goal was just to break even. Doing more with our meager marketing dollars meant being creative too. Finally we started to see some successes. In retrospect, it was an opportunity to understand what we were really good at and then work it tirelessly to grow a sustainable success. These early years of business implanted a fear that really never left me. It was a constant motivator in the 37 years that I was engaged in the store.
I suspect there is plenty of fear, confusion, unknowns, and sleepless nights for our small business friends right now. Encouraging notes, phone calls, purchasing of gift cards, or just well wishes can go a long way to keep them going. Spirit and optimism can carry the entrepreneur quite a distance.
Finally, I would like to thank the medical staff, first responders, law enforcement, and health care officials who are not only taking care of our current healthcare needs but who are also anticipating our future needs. Your dedication and expertise bring confidence to all of us who are looking forward to life without fear of this virus.
Hopefully the next 30 days will give us a little more clarity and a path forward to normalcy.
I appreciate the emails, texts, and phone calls encouraging me in this campaign. It would truly be my honor to serve you. Thank you very much for your support.