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Remember back in 2015 when you were thinking about your five year plan as an entrepreneur? Or maybe you were at a job interview answering the question; “where do you see yourself in five years”. I think we can all agree we were all waaaay off.
In the midst of a global pandemic, we all have been dealt blows few were prepared for. But, outside of the obvious health crisis, no one has dealt with more uncertainty than business owners and entrepreneurs. Businesses we thought that would survive anything are now closing their doors or barely hanging on, while others we never thought about are out of stock and cannot keep up with demand.

Drive-In Theatres Make a Comeback

Cars parked at drive-in movie theater

In the 1958, the drive-in movie theatre industry had more than 4,000 theatres that existed nationwide. But as the indoor theatre industry grew as did the demand for luxury theatres, the drive-in theatre industry declined and only 305 drive-ins remain in the U.S. according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owner Association (UDITOA).

Fast-forward to March 2020 when the coronavirus seemingly said “hold my popcorn” and dismantled the indoor theatre industry so significantly that AMC is offering customers to rent an entire theatre for $99 and Regal cinemas hit the pause button.

Between the customers not allowed to patronize any indoor business for months and movie sets shut down, the theatre industry was one that suffered blows from their supply and demand. On October 6th, CEO of Cineworld, Mooky Greidinger issued a press release that Regal Cinemas was suspending all operations. “The prolonged closures have had a detrimental impact on the release slate for the rest of the year, and, in turn, our ability to supply our customers with the lineup of blockbusters they’ve come to expect from us. As such, it is simply impossible to continue operations in our primary markets.” Griedinger had told the Wall Street Journal early in the pandemic, “We are like a grocery shop that doesn’t have vegetables, fruit, meat…We cannot operate for a long time without a product.”
Wedding ceremony at Doc’s Drive-In Theatre in Buda, Texas

While so many businesses have had to shift their branding or completely pivot and change what they offered, most theatres are in mall settings so flipping into a drive-in version was impossible. Drive-ins on the other hand have been able to expand their brand. In April, Doc’s Drive-In Theatre in Buda, Texas, opened for an eighty-five car socially distanced wedding that live-streamed on the theater’s two screens. Many have also expanded their entertainment lineup to include concerts, art shows and stand-up comedy performances. So an industry that seemed on its way out 2 years ago has now made a comeback.

Businesses Pivoting During the Pandemic

Small business owner packaging product boxes for shipping during pandemic

Products like poster boards have seen a big increase for at home craft projects due in part to the quarantine, but also because of the protests. Quarantine and anger in 2020 equated to Americans spending $6 million dollars more on poster board and Sharpie pens this year.

Other businesses that have seen an increase are those that offer plexiglass because of the product demand for PPE equipment for frontline workers and barriers for businesses that are required to install them to reopen. Commodity Intelligence Service, ICIS reported a 300% increase in business for plexiglass manufactures since February of this year. Las Vegas-based fabrication business, Plastic Man Inc. told Channel 8 News Now in Las Vegas that 99% of their business is now driven by plastic shields.

But the most impressive has been the business pivots made to survive and no one knows that better than party rental companies.
With COVID guidelines nationwide stopping all group gatherings, business for party supply companies across the nation came to a screeching halt; or so they thought. Almost instantly, a new demographic of customers came calling and the industry has now found themselves looking for more products instead of a way out. In the beginning of the pandemic, cities were looking for inexpensive ways to create testing sites, field hospitals, and additional quarantine areas so they turned to party rental companies who had all of their equipment on hand.

Bonnie Lackey from Alexander Party Rentals in Seattle told Conven Magazine “On Friday, we left the office working on conventions, special events, and weddings. On Sunday, we were setting up hospital rooms”.

Now, as businesses that normally offer indoor services like nail and hair salons, restaurants, and gyms were thrown a life preserver a few weeks ago which was an option to provide services outdoors, party rental companies found themselves overwhelmed once again. The demands were now for canopies, tables, chairs, partisans, and outdoor lighting. Even for the small business who tried the DIY route and found themselves scrambling for products like artificial turf and patio string lights that almost instantly sold out everywhere.

Outdoor restaurant dining areas now line the streets where bike lanes and parking lots once were, and because of that one pivot opportunity two industries were saved.

So don’t be afraid to think outside the box if you find yourself without customers during the pandemic. Whether that is a rebranding effort or changing the products you offer all together. Remember, three key elements to succeeding as an entrepreneur are passion, patience, and persistence. Your 4th is now pivot.

As entrepreneurs, working with limited resources, unexpected expenses, and never ending obstacles are all part of any given week for us. Our regular week could constitute for a pandemic boot camp for any other large business owner or CEO. You see there, I just created a new service to offer. You’re welcome.

How has your business successfully pivoted during the pandemic? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.