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The Tale of Two.......



Mercedes Tapia, loves to sew. She also loves to cook and spend time with her family. I know because her grandson is my good friend Eddie Tapia (pictured with Mercedes above). Eddie used to work for me at Tremont Paint. He‘s both a good friend and an occasional cigar-buddy.

With all that is going on in the world, I asked Eddie (Junior to me) how his grandmother was doing? Was she safely quarantined in her New York apartment?

Turns out she is better off than that!

She’s on her farm in the small town of La Vega, in the Dominican Republic. She’s cooking and sewing where social distancing is a lot easier than in New York. Even during “normal times” she can go days without seeing a stranger on her remote farm in this faraway town.

Not a bad place to be at the moment. That's her with Junior down below.

Donna Carter is my former aunt. I say “former” because she is my ex-wife’s aunt whom I lost in the divorce. While I understood why my relationship with Donna (AD to the family) had to end after the divorce, I never stopped loving and thinking about her. She's a remarkable lady.

AD is the quintessential New Yorker: theater, museums, opera and all that the New York culture has to offer. But in a city of over 8,000,000 it was difficult to keep social distancing and so yesterday AD walked herself into the hospital with symptoms of COVID-19. She walked herself to the ER because the system is too taxed already and she didn’t want to make it worse by calling an ambulance or exposing an Uber driver!


She over 80-years-old and has several underlying health conditions and so Buck Wheat and the rest of her mom’s family (AND I) are terribly concerned for her. (Note: I couldn't find a picture of AD in time to get up here but it was AD who started the tradition of putting all the cousins in the same PJ's every Thanksgiving so I used that picture in her place....pssst....that’s Buck Wheat in the lower right....she was Panda then)!

The tale of two women! Their location may determine their fate during this remarkable period in mankind’s journey.

At the moment, the same is true for paint dealers. But just at the moment!

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic I have spent a lot of time speaking to independent retailers around the United States. Even more than usual! At the moment, we are not all sharing the same experience.

In three cities around the United States I know of three independents who are really struggling… count the register at the end of the day because the numbers are so big! All three are in what were up until now, economically robust areas where I’m sure people are thinking “if I’m going to be inside for a while….maybe I’ll give the place a schmere?”

Or some wallpaper or new window treatments!

Even while slowed down to use best practices for stopping the spread of the coronoavirus, they are continuing to set records in their stores. I actually know many retailers who will be up SIGNIFICANTLY in March.

It’s a false flag.

I have also been in touch with independents from the left and rights coasts; the more populated areas of our country where the pandemic is now, and will likely stay the hottest.

They are either closed or close to it and it’s not going to get better anytime soon.

My mother likes to say “Man plans, but God laughs!” There is no way of saying for sure the fate that awaits the rest of the independent channel.

There’s a universal warning in golf: FORE! When you hear it, you don’t if the ball is heading your way, but the smart golfer ducks anyway!

Whether you have been negatively affected by this outbreak yet or not, it’s affects are coming for us all. Few will be spared at least some pain. And many will bear the full brunt of this outbreak’s economic fury.

The short-term effects on your stores are not in your control. How well your region of the continent engages in locking itself down and social distancing may determine how quickly you re-open and recover from this public health and economic disaster.

But the long-term outcomes may be in our control. Every dollar you can save now is a dollar you can use later during your recovery. You should be looking at every expense and asking yourself if you need to spend that money now or if it would be better suited to feed your family in a crisis or to be used at part of the rebuilding process? Money that you put out on the street in the form of credit is a much higher risk now than at any time in your history as a paint dealer. Remember that you are not making a credit decision based on a customer’s ability to pay you back NOW. You are deciding on their ability to pay you back in 30 or 60-days. Do you know what their financial condition will be at that time?

I’ll answer for you: you DON'T!

As we get into the fat part of this curve in the coming weeks, please mind your health and the heath of those you love: Without that you have nothing.

And please head the warnings you hear around you.



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