Absurdly Driven usually looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Just a few weeks ago, business was good.
Now, for many, there seems no business at all.
Yet even the smallest business owner can find a little inspiration that may help them creep toward survival.
Augie's Montreal Deli sells Canadian comfort food. In Berkeley, California.
You might think there isn't too much of a market for that sort of thing, but when you're confident in your product, you'll likely find your customers.
Coronavirus came along and messed with it all. Augie's had to close the restaurant part of its deli and lay off most of its staff.
Yet co-owner Lex Gopnik-Lewinski saw what was going on around his neighborhood and had an idea. He explained to KQED:
We figure the way things have gone in other countries, we're going to be in full lockdown mode, and only pharmacies and markets are going to be open. So we're going to try to relieve some of the pressure on markets like Safeway and Berkeley Bowl that have just been overwhelmed.
In essence, the deli owners saw the long lines at bigger stores and thought they might be able to offer customers an alternative. And not a cheap alternative.
They can't buy in the sort of bulk that big brands do, so they have to charge a little more. But they can help customers avoid some of the hassle of lines.
So what used to be a Canadian deli has become a little more of a general store. As well as selling more food that customers can freeze, it offers cleaning products, toilet paper, paper towels and other essentials.
You might wonder, though, whether Augie's got permission to do such things. Remarkably, the City of Berkeley, perhaps in a fit of unusual reason and alacrity, gave its approval.
Augie's isn't the only small business trying to reinvent itself a little just to keep some level of business alive. San Francisco restaurant Prairie is another that went the general store. So much so that it's now called the Prairie General Store.
As its owner Anthony Strong told the San Francisco Chronicle:
I have never done a grocery store before. I was calling my mom for help and she reminded me my great-grandparents in Dubuque, Iowa opened a general store after the tail end of the depression.
There's no way of knowing if any such moves are going to work over a longer period. No one can accurately predict how long the shelter-in-place order will continue, never mind what authorities are currently saying.
But for Augie's -- and indeed for Prairie -- it all started with observing human behavior, seeing what's really happening in your locality and trying to adjust to the sudden times.
Personally, I hope it works.