Coming Out of COVID

mail packages

The last couple of years have been eventful, to put it mildly. Even now, things are getting back to normal while still not really being back to normal, if that makes any sense. In my store visits to my retail partners, I’ve noticed that it’s about 50/50 between places that have taken their plexiglass sneeze guards down from their workstations and places that have left them up.

One thing I’ve noticed that everyone has in common is the desire to socialize. After two years my expense account is finally getting a workout. The week before last, I was on an extended trip to the southernmost part of my territory. Every single meeting ran overtime. These are all people I haven’t seen in person in almost three years. Phone calls and web meetings are great and all, but they’re not the same as meeting face-to-face. We had a lot of catching up to do. Let me tell you, it’s refreshing to begin getting back to normal. Those were strange days mid-COVID.

How strange, you ask? Well, here’s one example. I’d held back on relating this until now, but the story can now be told.

Back in 2020, during the depths of the pandemic and the shutdown restrictions, one of my main vendors kept sending me samples. It’s not unusual for vendors to send me samples. But there were two things that made this odd.
The first was the timing: We were in the middle of lockdown, and I couldn’t go meet any of my clients to show these to them. The second was the quantity. For almost all of 2020, I was getting two or three deliveries a week.

I reached out to my vendor repeatedly, suggesting that maybe the time wasn’t right to load me down with sample products. My regular contact there assured me it would be taken care of, but it never was.

It got to the point where the boxes started piling up in my house. It was beginning to put a strain on my marriage:

“ANOTHER delivery?”

“You’re not leaving those there.”

“Where are you going to put these ones? No, you’re not leaving those there, either!”

Eventually, the vendor sample deliveries slowed to a trickle. But they weren’t doing anyone any good sitting in my house, I needed to find a productive use for them. Later that year, during one of the periods when restrictions were relaxed, I had lunch with the inventory manager for one of my biggest clients. I told her the story of how I’d ended up with way too many samples. When she was done laughing, I told her I wanted to know if she could help me solve my problem.

She agreed. “Great,” I said, “My car is loaded up with them. I’ll pack it all into your SUV when we’re done here.”
So we finished our lunch, and I loaded her SUV with boxes of sample products. “Just don’t ask me for a stock rotation request on any of this.” I joked as we said our goodbyes.