Love in the time of COVID-19

Well what a changed world we find ourselves in. “Reasons to be cheerful in 2020” trumpeted the front page headline of our March edition, put to bed in the first couple of days of this month. By the time the presses had rolled, the ink had dried, the pages had been stitched and our mailing house had sealed the envelopes, we looked hopelessly flat-footed with our assessment.

COVID-19 has hit us all like a meteor strike, and some brilliant businesses and lovely people are hurting, badly. The future for them – for all of us – is uncertain. Day by day we are making sense of the situation, as wine people, as a nation, and as a species.

You won’t find the answers to some of the biggest questions in The Wine Merchant. But we’ll try to do our bit in other ways. We’ve been proud to represent the independent wine trade for eight years and a minuscule bug with a massive attitude problem is not going to stop us, or our readers, in our tracks.

As we write this – on Friday, March 20 at just after 11am – we are taking stock of all the good things that are happening and not dwelling entirely on the nasty stuff. Independent merchants are discovering just how much their communities love them. Businesses are finding that they are more resilient, and resourceful, than they realised as they find new ways of serving their customers, near and far.

It’s also bringing out the best in suppliers. As our reader survey has shown, the relationship between them and their retail customers has been rather good lately and as we venture into the unknown together, there’s a sense that importers and agency businesses are standing shoulder to shoulder with their independent customers, in many cases protecting them from the worst of the hits they are enduring themselves.

Here at The Wine Merchant, we’re taking our share of the pain and, like everyone else, having to make some changes. Our business relies to a major extent on the buying trips, reader events and tastings that we get involved in and help to promote. With all those things off the agenda for a while, we have to cut our cloth accordingly. But in a funny way it means we’ll be doing more, not less.

We’ve already raised our game on social media (follow us @WineMerchantMag) and we’ll be publishing our e-newsletter, The Wine Merchant Bulletin, on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future. You can sign up by clicking here: it’s primarily aimed at retailers, so the content is geared towards that readership. But anyone is welcome to recieve it.

We’ll also be making some changes to the website, so that it’s easier to access the kind of content that we include in the mag itself. The PDF version of every issue will continue to be uploaded, but we know that some readers prefer a more web-based approach. This will also help us respond more quickly to events than we’re able to do in print.

Talking of print, the physical, lovely-smelling version of the magazine will be paused for a month or two, while we get revenues back on track. We know you prefer a printed copy, and we do too, but we’re having to adapt to extraordinary conditions, just like our readers. We’ll have the presses rolling again as soon as possible.

Thanks to everyone who’s been supportive and kind this week – especially the advertisers who keep everything ticking over here at The Wine Merchant. We’ve never taken your support for granted in the good times, and we never will in the bad ones either.

Good luck everyone. Let’s stay safe, let’s stay strong, let’s stay connected. And let’s keep the pictures of dogs coming, otherwise it really will be the end of days.

 

Graham Holter

Editor and publisher