by AMY SALDANHA, founder and CEO, kiddywampus

Much like everyone else, I’ve been on the phone non-stop with customers, other toy store owners, vendors, and community leaders. My emotions have ranged from panic to hope, then fear, and back to hope. Here’s where I have landed:

We, ASTRA members, were born for this moment.

We are entrepreneurs and out-of-the-box thinkers. When told “no” we hear “challenge accepted.” We have all been told “that’s not possible” a million times — and gone on to deliver against the odds. We make Santa happen for millions of kids each year. We take delight in beating the odds, figuring out a way to get things done when no one else can. It’s how we survive every single day. We thrive on the “no.” We relish the win.

The great news right now is that many of the old rules don’t apply. Customer habits are changing, and what seemed impossible a month ago (I can close my store to the public, take phone orders, and deliver!) is now being done by many of us overnight. Remember how many of us were intimidated by Facebook videos … and suddenly we just figured it out because the need to communicate directly with our customers was larger than our fear over looking silly? We figured it out because we had to. It’s the story of our lives.

We are all heart. We know our customers, our employees, our reps (and their kids), and our vendors — this is all deeply personal. This means we can reach out to each other and figure things out quickly. We can ask for what we need and be honest with each other about what’s possible.

My challenge to you is this: Think about all the times you’ve been told “it’s not possible” in your business … and the challenges we have faced together: delayed shipments, customs backlogs, lead threats, the threat of tariffs, and Amazon — and the list goes on and on.

Remember how we responded every single time: challenge accepted. We will fight for our businesses, our vendors, our reps, our customers, our communities, our employees, and for the millions of kids whose lives we impact every day.

If being in the toy industry were easy, everyone would do it.

So bring it on, coronavirus: challenge accepted. Now hold my damn juice box.