As the owner of a webshop, the treat queen Marleen had ‘a lot of stress’ due to the corona crisis. Still, she thought, ‘I want to bite into it, then we’ll see where the ship ends’

How did your business ever start?

“Seven years ago, I started making treats from home. A neighbor wanted treats and I thought that would be nice. So it was one after another. I was so lucky that it ran pretty fast. After three years, I dared to take the next step and took a business building on Energieweg in Alphen. It is quite intensive work, although it is a little quieter now because the schools are closed. I now have machines that I did not have in the beginning, which allows me to do a little more now. I am nowhere without machines, because it is a lot of work to do everything by hand. ”

And then came the corona. Were you worried?

“I was pretty much in a panic, I think like many other entrepreneurs. The news mainly concerned closed shops and catering companies. There was little attention paid to online stores like us. But the schools also had to close and everything was canceled so all my work fell away. I asked myself: what now? As a webshop, you did not receive a subsidy and you fell outside all the schemes. We did not have to close, but we had no customers. The municipality had schemes, but these were emergency solutions: everything had to be paid back. So I decided: I’m biting into it, then we’ll see where the ship ends up. Many things I had lying around were perishable, so I gave it away to charity, Ikgevenaanjou.nl.

At one point I started delivering orders in Alphen aan den Rijn and surroundings. It was something, but it was not enough. It was a very strange period: one moment I had nothing, the next the schools reopened and it was rush hour. Due to the corona rules, the treats only had to be delivered pre-packaged. And then treats were completely banned again. It was urgent again. You work until late at night again. And then the schools closed again. That way, you kept yo-yoing all the time. It was an eventful year… ”

You said: there were also smaller periods. Nevertheless, as an entrepreneur, you have fixed costs, and of course you also have to pay yourself a salary. How did it go?

“I put the belt on. My partner also works for himself as a freelancer, he was able to pay the fixed costs with his do-it-yourself and maintenance company. I tried to make agreements with suppliers and it went well. With “A little personal input, I finally got through it. But I have not paid myself a salary for several months. Hahaha, that was not the case. I had no choice.”

Have you also managed to solve problems in a creative way?

“Usually I buy a lot of chocolate before December. Companies give it to employees and relationships, parents buy it to their children. But because all the businesses were closed, I was left with it. I gave it a quote and posted it on Facebook. I delivered the orders for free. That’s how I ran out of stock. The cost was higher than the revenue, but something still needs to be done. I had to pack the lollipops that I usually sell individually: Each skewer had to be packed separately. That way, I started making adjustments to what I already had. Eventually, I made treats that I could put in the mailbox with birthday kids. Children who had birthdays but could not indulge in school received a mailbox treat with the mail. That way, you’ll find some great things to generate revenue from. “

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Treats Fun website© Screenshot

Have you ever feared for the survival of your business?

“I found out that I was not sure I would continue my work if the crisis were to last long. I got through the corona period quite well, but now that everything is back to normal, I feel that it has had more of an impact on my creative ability than I thought. Usually I shake all creative ideas out of the sleeve. Now that all the rules have been withdrawn, I can see that the corona crisis has done more to me mentally than I thought. All that stress, sleepless nights … What should I do? What do I have to pay for it? Will everything still be okay? Is this the “new normal” we need to get used to? Should I do something else?

In fact, I was first bothered by it now, more than during the corona crisis. During the crisis, you are primarily in a state of survival. Only afterwards do you think about it better. Only now do you feel what all the stress is doing to your body. In April I had to order for Christmas and Sinterklaas, so you doubt how much to buy. You doubt what to do. I placed my order very late. If you buy too little, you have to sell no, but if you buy too much, and everything closes again, you are left with leftovers. ”

What did you end up ordering?

“I ordered everything in full for Halloween, I’m willing to take that risk. I’m willing to bet on autumn. I have almost nothing for Sinterklaas and at least no more chocolate figurines for Christmas – less than before.”

So you’re worried we’ll be locked up again for the winter?

“I am just a little scared of it. With all the stories you hear. I dare not take the risk. I like giving things away to charities, but you end up giving money away. I will first see a ‘normal’ winter before I dare to order everything as normal. ”

How do you look back on the crisis with today’s knowledge? Do you see yourself as a winner or loser of the corona crisis?

“I definitely see myself as a winner, I’m proud to be there after all. I have not created any debt, but if you put the belt on and put everything on your back and look for all the options, you will get there. I came through time – after all, it was a very strange period of two and a half to three years. In the end, I’m proud that I’m still here. There is companies that did not manage it or had it so much worse than me. In fact, I am grateful that everything went well and that I still have a healthy business. ”

Read also: Alphen’s cultural center Parkvilla wanted to help with the care, but struggled a lot with some corona rules: ‘Having to close at eight o’clock is hard to explain’

In the series The Winners and Losers of the Corona Crisis, Alphen CC makes status: How do entrepreneurs look back on the crisis, and what have they learned from it? Do you have any tips or would you like to answer? Send an email to r.de.quay@mediahuis.nl.

This series was made possible in part by a contribution from Quality Impulse for South Holland Journalism.

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