Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed more than two dozen people who grew up along the Mendocino Coast and couldn’t wait to move away, believing they’d never return. But return they did, to establish businesses or professional careers. Some also chose this place to raise children, to nurture them in the small town values that shaped their own childhoods.
These are a new wave of pioneers who, like their forebearers, use intelligence and imagination to forge a vibrant path. In exchange for the privilege of being able to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, they work long, hard hours.
The shelter in place orders due to Covid-19 have knocked many down, but they are devising ways to get back up and resume their vision of what it means to live here.
They have open minds and are digging deep to find solutions.
They have entrepreneurial spirits that will spawn innovations to move them forward. They are truly the new pioneers of the Mendocino Coast.
We are so fortunate to have them here—especially during this trying time.
When I interviewed Stevie nearly four years ago, I was impressed by her dedication to the legacy of her family’s business. https://ithappenedatpurity.com/tag/mendocino-coast/
Unlike other small businesses who found their operations suddenly stopped, Roundman’s remained open. When the shelter in place order was announced, they researched the essential business requirements. “As a USDA-regulated and inspected facility,” she says, “we were already in compliance with a lot of the rules. We made adjustments for masks and social distancing. We also began disinfecting contact surfaces after every customer interaction.”
In addition to their retail store, Roundman’s sells to several Mendocino County restaurants. When these had to shut down or start take-out only, Roundman’s braced for a negative impact. Surprisingly, this was offset by a spike in retail sales. “People started placing large orders for their personal stock. Business really took off—albeit in a different direction—but we adapted, have been able to keep our staff employed, and are doing fine.”
Meat shortages soon curtailed Roundman’s ability to order certain products. “We were able to shift some of our sourcing to local vendors and distributors, but even that was limited. We are doing our best to focus our efforts on more Northern California companies when possible. It’s also what the public wants.”
Despite the challenges of running a business during shelter in place, Stevie is pleased to see a slowing down of life. “Our culture has become very go-go-go, with people seeking immediate responses. Safety is now a priority and that adds a few extra minutes to each task. I think the limitations arising from this pandemic have caused people to pause and assess what is truly necessary—what they can go without in a time of crisis. Everyone worldwide has had to make sacrifices. In our little community I see an understanding of that and a comraderie forming.
“People are making masks and donating them where needed. They’re expressing gratitude and rallying to help each other out. We’re coming together—outdoors and distanced—to celebrate high school graduations, birthdays and other milestone events.”
As a business owner, Stevie urges shoppers to show compassion, gratitude and respect. “Follow the orders, read signs, respect the rules and your fellow humans. Respect the employees. Understand that those who are working are not the ones making the rules. They are trying to follow them as best they can to remain in operation and keep you, themselves and their families safe.”
Stevie hopes more people are starting to realize that added safety precautions have been implemented to ensure the well-being of everyone. “I see people more aware of their interactions and their surrounding environment. Safety and sanitation is now a priority and that adds a few extra minutes to each task. For the most part, customers are grateful we’re taking care of them by limiting the number of people in the store, wearing and requiring masks, and disinfecting surfaces between each transaction.
“Going forward, I imagine that some of the changes will remain. My guess is that Covid-19 has made people more aware of what they touch and how germs are passed. I don’t know that face shields and plexi-glass at registers will remain forever, but think we’ll see more people wearing masks—especially during heightened flu season. I think there will be more conscious efforts to wash hands, sanitize and keep a safe distance.
“I hope we can continue to rally together, support and respect each other, and encourage our visitors to do the same.”