May 03, 2020 5 min read 1 Comment

Hey guys-- Suzanne here with an update on all that has happened in the past six weeks or so. After we closed, we quickly furloughed our staff, got the PPP loan a few weeks later, hired our staff back (THANK GOD WE CANNOT DO THIS THING WITHOUT YOU GUYS!!!!), and have been finding a temporary "new normal" since then.

THL Shop picture

Shop update: As of now, our brick and mortar is closed but our online shop is open! We've been working hard to continue to stock the BEST toys around, and are currently focusing on toys that will keep your littles busy at home -- puzzles, craft kits, building toys, and more. We've also revamped our website to make finding the perfect toys for your littles even easier. 

We **could** open our brick and mortar at 25% capacity for retail, but we aren't quite ready. We want to make sure our staff feels okay with that, we want to make sure that numbers don't get out of hand, and we want to make sure we are able to do it safely.

Once we feel comfortable, we might roll out shopping appointments or something along those lines. The plan is, there is no plan. And that's because we've learned planning is a fool's errand in times like these (which for the record we have never lived through times like these, so this is uncharted territory haha). 

So, for now, either shop online and we will ship it like usual, OR here are the two ways you can let us know that you're doing curbside pickup: 

1. Select "Pick Up" instead of "Ship" at checkout. This has been a little buggy, hence option two.

2. Use code INSTOREPICKUP. 

Either way is great with us. You'll receive an email when your order is ready  (usually less than 24 hours). Curbside pickup is Monday through Saturday, 10-11AM. Give us a call when you get here. Pop your trunk and we'll place your order in your car. 

THL curbside picture

I want to be honest-- we offer free shipping on orders over $50, and shipping usually eats up A LOT of our profit. So if you are local, and you feel comfortable with contact-free curbside pickup, we sure would appreciate it. If you're close and if you purchased something big/bulky, we might reach out and see if you're okay with one of our staff members (99% chance it's me and my kids!) dropping your order off on your porch. 

Playspace update: Oy vey. Where to begin? We are not open. We aren't sure when we will be able to open. And.... can we be honest? The playspace is not really a "social distancing" type of business. The whole idea is that kids and families interact with one another. Like, yes, sometimes touching each other. So. Yeah. It is not ideal right now. We're wondering if this part of our business will ever be the same. We have a reputation for having a CLEAN playspace, but still, young children mouth toys, they drool, they hug each other, the littles can't wear masks.... and the day when these previously normal things become acceptable seems very far away. 

Two girls playing in the flex space with Grimm's rainbow

Our playspace has always run on a hybrid of memberships and day passes. Our members are the backbone of our business-- we see them on a regular basis, and we miss them!! So-- what's going on with our members right now?? Well, as always, members can cancel their membership at any time. Times are TOUGH right now, so we totally get that many families are trimming any excess spending. We did however give members the option to keep their membership active. This helps THL during this time, and then in the future, we will add this time on to the end of their membership. 

Our current plan is to (at some point) open with limited hours. For a while, we will likely be members-only, by reservation. We aren't sure when this will happen, but we don't really anticipate it happening any time this month.

Toddler playing at magnet wall in the THL playspace

Also-- let's be honest. One or two families in our 1700 sqft playspace does not a solid business make. That's the conundrum we are facing. We need to be able to pay our staff and our rent, and that inflection point seems a long way off. And that feels a little scary.

But man, on the other hand, we are feeling so loved and lucky. So far, our online sales have sustained us through this. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to everyone who has supported our small business during this time. It's been a bright spot for us to help you find fresh and fun toys that help keep your littles ones busy and engaged while stuck at home.

THL packages outside the storefront

So.... what does the future look like for us??

Well, the shop will hum along at its current pace for the time being. With so many online orders, our once tidy shop is now overgrown with boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape. That, my friends, is a blessing. Thank you!!

The playspace as of now is a very exclusive club for four children, lucky them. That's the other wrinkle in things. Real life. Our kids. The new normal. My husband is an "essential worker" and is basically back to work as normal. Like many of you, we don't have school or childcare for our kids. So, they've been coming to work with us a lot. Yes, Piper has a crib set up in our break room where she takes the world's best naps (it's so dark when the lights are off!!). 

Kids playing in the playspace

Yep, the orange tunnels can be vertical. Yep, it is super fun. Nope, it's not that safe around the three and four year-old crowds, so this is a special set-up for the quaran-TEAM!

As we figure out when and how to re-open THL, we have to do it in a way that works for our families in this new normal.

So, in conclusion, we are struggling with the things SO many people across the world are struggling with. We know we have it better than many, and for that we are grateful. 

To our playspace members that have helped sustain us through this time, thank you. We were unsure what to do with our members, but we have been so affirmed by those of you that have reached out saying you are so happy to support us through this time. We couldn't be more grateful.

So much togetherness. It's great. And it's hard. 

To our customers who have chosen to support THL with your business, thank you. You're making the difference for us right now.  

To our supporters who have sent us positive and thoughtful messages, shared our social media posts, and been our advocates, thank you. You're keeping us hopeful!

The future is SO uncertain. We miss you guys terribly. In this time of isolation, THL is exactly what we need, but it's also exactly what we can't have. That is the catch-22 people all over the world find themselves in. 

More updates soon!

Love,

Suzanne

three kids reading on a couch

A (rare) quiet moment with these three!


1 Response

Joy
Joy

May 04, 2020

So glad to read that things are going well or as well as can be expected. We love y’all and what your store has done for our kids. You’ve even helped this momma foster some amazing friendships from meeting other mommas at The Happy Lark. I miss that. To come and chat with employees (I miss y’all!) and shop and play with my kiddoes and meet new mommas and catch up with old ones. Y’all def hold a special place in my heart and we are def happy to still be able to be members. Xo Joy McHugh

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