The Mask Conundrum

I have really tried hard to figure out why people don’t want to wear masks. This boggles my mind. I have heard a few reasons, the only of which I can kinda sorta sympathize with is that people are tired of figuring out what you have to do in each different store some of which have different policies.

I had a rant building there for a minute, but that doesn’t matter anymore.

Anyway, we ARE worried about keeping our community safe. We want to be a part of the solution towards keeping everyone safe, and so we have asked everyone to wear masks here.

This is now a moot point, in that everyone is now required to wear masks everywhere. So that makes our life a lot easier. We have hand sanitizer in many places, and a (mostly) clear path to follow which avoids creating bottlenecks.

For those who have medical conditions or other reasons you can’t wear a mask, we do have solutions for you: we continue to offer our website that has 90% of the items in the store available. You can also call us to order. We will still bring your items out to your car, or deliver them to your house. If you order online because you have a medical condition, let us know that and we’ll even refund you your $5 delivery fee.

Speaking of which…
The Website:
As for the website, we have made some changes. The logistics behind running a website that is also a live store are quite complicated. So we have had to make the following changes:
-Pick-ups available on Tuesdays and Fridays, unless you get the confirmation email ahead of time that we have picked it all and it’s ready. This is mostly so that we can have the best chance at having all the items you ordered (although by the nature of it, we will never be perfect at this).
-We have a designated parking spot for order pick-ups.
-Delivery is available Tuesdays and Fridays as well, for the same reasons.
-We have most of the items online BUT will not be able to add some limited items. We will do our best, but it’s complicated. Some items will lag in getting entered, as there are so many new items it is hard to keep up in a timely manner. However, the added benefit of the website is that even if some items cannot fit on our shelves, we can offer them via the website. I have a growing page of “online only” items on the website.

The Store:
The store is now open daily from noon to 7pm.
So far, 99% of people have been fantastic. We have loved having you all back, and it’s nice to see so many smiling eyes.
We are very content with the new layout of the store, and there is lots of space for people to move about.
We are working on our new food menu, but there is still electrical work that needs to be completed. More info on that coming soon.
We have new pizza kits, and slushies as well (the mojito slushie is so good). Pizza kits are available online, but slushies are not as it just can’t keep frozen by the time we deliver it. But feel free to call us from the parking lot if you don’t feel comfortable coming in!

And yes you can now come have a beer or cider inside the store. As every restaurant is the state has, we have about half the seating we used to have. But we’ll find you a nice seat to enjoy your time and/or company with.

As always, please let us know if there is anything we can do better. As a friend of mine likes to say “in this crazy time there are not many right answers. But there are plenty of wrong answers.” We’re just trying the best we can, and adapting to new info as it comes out.

Lastly, my favorite meme of the week:

Cheers and Courage,
-Patrick

P.S. I have got a lot of very nice comments and feedback from my email titled “On Empathy.” I loved reading your stories and they have helped me to learn more too. As I reread that email yesterday, I realize that even today I would have made some changes to that email because of things I have learned since the short time ago that I sent it. I am glad it has been helpful to many people, and I am especially happy to hear some of you say it helped spur you to do something, like pick up a book, or have a conversation. It’s not easy. It’s going to take work and time. I bought “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo last week, which so far has been quite impactful on the way I’ve been thinking about the world. I would highly recommend this, if you are looking for something. I tend to be more of a literature guy though, and if you are more into that I recommend Richard Wright whose books were very impactful to me as a college kid.

The Cautious Opening – How We Do This

We open for shopping this Saturday! We are excited to welcome you back in. We want it to be easy, safe, and clear how it will work here. So we are going to over-communicate.
So here we go!

You are invited!

When:
starting this coming Saturday, from noon to 7

What:
in-store shopping, with over a hundred new beers including cans and bottles from Cloudburst, Holy Mountain, Stormbreaker, Urban Family, Aslan, Wander, Old Schoolhouse, Varietal, Ex-Novo, Lowercase, Manny’s Pale Ale, Ferment, Block 15, Ale Apothecary, de Garde, Stoup, Thunderland Mead, and more I can’t remember off the top of my head.

Why:
well… beer? Fun? I guess?

How:
we are taking it carefully. we are going to request that everyone wears a mask. This is to protect those with deficient immune systems, and those caring for people with health issues. We have masks if you forget yours, no worries. We are also going to limit the amount of people in the store in line with state regulations, to make sure we all have a lot of space.
Signage should be pretty clear about the best way to get around the store. If you have questions, just ask!

Also:
yes, we had originally said we’ll be open on Friday. But we want to respect the Black Lives Matter strike planned for Friday, and are going to wait a day.

we are going to be ready for people to drink a pint here the following Friday, 6/19. Look for that killer tap list early next week. We were hoping to have our pizza program up and running by then, but it looks like an electrical complication may slow things down for a little bit (coming soon!)

online shopping: we are still going to do online shopping and delivery as well. The days and times available for this will change some, as will what we can offer online. But the experience should be pretty similar as it is now, with changes coming as we merge the online store and physical store. It’s a lot more difficult than we thought it would be to have both of those work together.

We appreciate you all, and just ask for a little patience and kindness. Hope to see you soon.

VISIT OUR ONLINE STORE

On Empathy

The first time in my life someone chose to intimidate me because of my race, or perhaps more likely because of my (presumed) nationality, was about fifteen years ago, when I was living abroad. If you travel enough, something will eventually happen to you that you stop and think “wait, I just got picked on (or stolen from, yelled at, punched, etc etc) because of what they assumed about me based on my skin color.” It’s not a nice feeling, but it also was not traumatic. It did not change my life. It happened a handful of other times in the five years I lived south of the border, and I got to believe that I “knew” what it was to feel racism.

I fell in love and got married in Mexico, some of the best years of my life. It was wonderful and magical, adventurous and romantic and everything a young man could hope for in the first 25 years of life.

We moved to the US around the time of the Great Recession, and my wife started to have bizarre incidents around here that I could not figure out. I tried to rationalize them away, try see how she must be mistaken about the exact meaning of the words when she told me about how the director of the international school at WCC had told her she “needed to be legal” first in order to get into college. I would laugh when she would talk about being afraid of the border patrol (I thought she was joking!) and we both laughed when I took her to Canada and while crossing the border and she said, quite indignantly, “wait, where’s the WALL?”

But darker things happened. Things I couldn’t explain away. Things that would never happen to me. Bizarre little things, and big things. Things that she cried over and I couldn’t figure out a way to give people the benefit of the doubt like I always did in my life. Things that people needlessly said or did for no other reason than being mean. Things that otherwise nice people said that were just awful.

And I realized I had no idea what it felt like to experience racism. When I started seeing the world through her eyes, I started seeing things that boggled my mind. And made me furious. Why in the world would that car salesman block the door inside the show room and ask her what she’s doing here? I could not come up with a single reason that would happen, and I could absolutely never imagine it happening to me. Never. Those words would never be said to me. What would cause someone to say those words to my wife in that way? I was there to hear them too, just far enough behind her that the salesman didn’t know we were together. I am baffled to this day what that was all about. Or why would that employee at the hotel pass her in the hallway and ask her to come down to the desk so they could “verify that she was a guest in the hotel” after we had been there for more than a day. What? I can’t for a second imagine those words being said to me. It would be totally crazy. I’d lose my mind on social media about it.

And I started to realize that the silly things that happened to me in Mexico were nothing like the fear that my wife felt when going certain places, or in big parts of daily life. No one stared me down for no reason, leaving me wondering what they were thinking. No one asked me “are these kids yours?” No one said “let’s just speak in English and he won’t understand” with just me standing there.

I wonder about my kids’ lives. What they will have to deal with. They look more like me than my wife. What does it mean that that makes me feel relieved? What does it mean that I think they’ll have more opportunities, a better job, less challenges in life, than if they looked more like her? Am I wrong? Am I a terrible person?

Or perhaps I feel even worse because I’m not wrong? That their life experience will be more like mine and less like my wife’s, based just off of how they look on the outside?

I think no one wants to feel like they “had it easy.” Everyone I know has some sort of “I had a rough childhood” or “it hasn’t been easy” or “it wasn’t just given to me” life story. I think we all honestly want to be validated for the hard work we have put in in this life. The idea that my hard work is devalued because I started with an easier life is very hard for almost everyone. Has anyone ever said to you “well, my life has been pretty easy up to this point. Basically I was just born into the right family, at the right place at the right time of history, and that explains my life”? In our core I think we all believe that we have earned whatever we have ended up with, perhaps we will admit some small dose of luck but in general I have earned what I have done and gained.

Until I started to see life in this part of the world through my wife’s experience, I only saw life from the vantage point where I was standing. I had fully believed the quote that “the universe is conspiring to help us.” I had been born towards the top of the mountain, and couldn’t imagine that being born at the bottom of the mountain meant anything different. In my experience things generally went well when you did them exactly as I had. I guess I could kind of imagine that some people had less than me, but certainly they could get to where I was at with a little work, right? But we are all given the same climbing boots and supplies, right? This is America, where everyone has the same opportunities. Right? I worked hard to climb the hill up from where I started, and certainly that meant just as much starting from any vantage point. Looking down the hill didn’t seem that far for people below me to be able to reach where I had arrived at. If I can do it, anyone can.

It wasn’t until I was forced to see life from a different vantage point that I started to see what life was like in a place I wasn’t interested in visiting. To be honest I don’t think I’d have ever actually taken time to think about life from someone else’s point of view that deeply. Humans are pretty selfish and I haven’t been a great exception to that rule.

But when forced to, I saw obstacles that were never apparent from my vantage point. To see unexplainable occurrences that didn’t make sense from my life experience. To see systems that did not offer her a chance unless she spoke English fluently. Systems that required money to get up into. Systems that looked suspiciously like white people ran them, and mostly just let white people through (wait, she’s the only non-white person on this flight, and also happens to be the only person on this flight selected for a “random” search???)

You know what was easier? To just imagine that she was mistaken. That she must have heard or understood wrong. That this country was as tough as she imagined it was. That she just needed to work harder. No one had offered me a hand up. She just had to keep her head down and she could get up here. Figure it out. She is just getting in her own way, or blaming others. They didn’t mean that when they said that to her. She needs to grow thicker skin. Stop letting others decide for her.

It took work to stop all that, to start to assume that she is right, that her feelings are valid, and that she just wants to be loved and to be a part of and bring value to this community and this world. That bad stuff happened to her that I never had to deal with. That the mountain was higher than I thought it was. And to stop and to ask her how she sees things that I take for granted. To open myself to see the world from her viewpoint.

We can all do that. We can start now, if we haven’t started yet. And if we started years ago, we can still do it better today. There are so many humans out there who need our listening ears, our love and compassion and understanding. We can help change so much for the better. We can do so much more.

If you made it this far, thanks for listening to our story.
I’ll probably do less long-format things like this as we all start to get busier lives. But I felt like today was an important day to share.
Much love,
-Patrick

Things are changing fast

Wow, what a few months can do

Ok, so here we are! It’s nice to finally get a chance to stop and send out some communications.

First: thank you. You guys have been awesome. Thanks for sticking with us, thanks for helping us along with this new process, helping us break and fix the website, your suggestions and comments, and for your patience. We never wanted to be in the online sales business – that is never why we started this!

But we are making it slowly but surely.

There are tons of updates. But for now, let’s talk about beverages, and the industry. There are a few fascinating things happening locally and around the world.

First and foremost: every brewery is desperately trying to get their beer into cans and bottles. Those with their own canning lines (see: Aslan and Kulshan) are pumping out new cans. Both of those breweries are sending us about two new beers per WEEK. It is insane. But pretty awesome. We heard 122 West just bought a canning line, we have seen cans from Stemma and Boundary (and bottles), and Wander at a clip I have never imagined.

This means that there are LOTS of new beers available CONSTANTLY. On average we used to get 15 new beers per week, of maybe 50 new beers available. Now we are being offered 100 new beers weekly and we are trying to figure out what you all will want, while keeping a balance of styles, prices, etc. Phew.

Traditionally, in down times people get more price sensitive. We are working hard to find great beers, but also beers that anyone can afford now too. We are looking at options, and have created a tab on our website called “Specials and Mixed Packs.” We will see a lot of specials coming up because there is so much beer on the market right now. We want to be a store that anyone can afford to buy at, so we are paying special attention to this.

Kegs are getting old, too. Everywhere. That is a big problem. We are going through a decent amount of crowlers here, but we are thinking about all the restaurants that will start back up whenever the beginning of phase 2 happens. There will be some hard decisions to be made on the side of breweries, distributors, and retailers as how to deal with that cost (or some may simply choose to serve old beer, too). We have some great beers that can be cellared (which we bring out for special events) and we also have a reasonable supply of IPAs that will still be ok for a little while longer. We have bought a few kegs from local breweries in the past few months, but are just about ready to start bringing fresh beer back in.

It has been a crazy time. I have lots more to say about employees, next steps, goals and changes, safety, and other stuff, but I’ll leave you here at this point.

Elizabeth Station