This month marks one year since life as we knew it changed. One year ago, the coronavirus was starting to make headlines, as rumblings of school closures, travel restrictions and lockdowns began. Words like “social distancing” and “quarantine” began making their way into our daily vocabulary. 

Suddenly, there was a run on Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Zoom exploded on the scene. Sweat pant sales soared. Everything started to shut down. 

Life as we knew it was suddenly different

In some ways, it seems so long ago that all of this started. Has it really been just ONE YEAR

In other ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been an entire 365 days since all of this began. How quickly we went from living our “normal” lives to suddenly being afraid to hug our friends and family members. 

Looking back…we’ve learned a lot these last 12 months. 

COVID-19 forced us to stop, literally, and really evaluate what’s important. 

We realized how important our health is. Without it, we aren’t able to do much of anything. 

We realized our need for human connection and interaction. We were reminded how much we cherish time with family and friends. We’re all only able to be isolated for so long. We’re social creatures and need connection with others to be fully satisfied and sane. Those of us that had “bubbles” of people to connect with on a daily/weekly basis fared the best. Those living alone needed all kinds of different connections – phone calls, FaceTime chats, snail mail, visits outside the window. 

And parents everywhere looked for ways to survive as they juggled work, schooling, and keeping kids contained indoors. They also looked for ways to keep kids engaged in learning, both in real life and online. 

We learned to be adaptive, because even with the best plans, you may need to change course. To meet the needs of our customers, we had to adapt what we did here at Ashley’s. That meant accepting credit cards, Paypal and Venmo for safe, contactless payments. We offered curbside pickup and delivery, and socially-distanced shopping to help keep customers safe and healthy. 

We learned that being adaptive is a good thing. For us, it may have stretched us a bit, but in the best way possible, as it opened new ways to meet the needs of our customers and make their experience with us more convenient. 

We learned – or rather, we confirmed – that comfort food does, in fact, comfort during uncertain times. The past year has been hard in so many ways and sometimes we just need a home cooked meal with a slice of freshly baked bread or a delicious chocolate eclair to enjoy on a day that feels particularly rough. 

And we learned that sometimes, in the midst of ever changing news and rules and regulations, the things that help the most are simple, treasured, ordinary routines, like donuts on a Saturday morning or a favorite flavored cake to celebrate a birthday.

Most importantly, this past year confirmed what we already know – your support, your loyalty, your friendship —  makes all of this possible. We’re really grateful that so many of our customers continued to be there for us throughout the pandemic. 

As we reach the one year mark, we all long for a return to “normal” as we reflect on all that’s happened. We’ll carry with us the lessons we’ve learned as we move into brighter days ahead. Thanks for joining us for the ride.