Back in April, we spoke with Kate Whelley McCabe, of Vermont Evaporator, about how the COVID-19 crisis has affected her small business in Montpelier, Vermont. We caught up with Kate to get an update on how Vermont Evaporator has been doing during the pandemic.
KC: A lot has changed since we first spoke back in April. What has the evolution been like of how Vermont Evaporator Company operates during the time between then and now?
Kate: March, April and May were bleak, but due mainly to help from the federal government, our lenders, and our own scrappiness, hard work, creativity and not-giving-up, we’ve passed the deep off season (warm weather months of May through August) with flying colors by rebranding some of our product offerings and successfully moving to 100% online sales. We hired in November, bringing us to full pre-pandemic staffing, and are charging into the high season early, it seems, as consumers worry how long they’ll be able to source the goods they are looking for and shop early for the holidays.
KC: What precautions are you taking to keep customers, staff and the community safe?
Kate: Wrote all about it here!
KC: What are your fears entering into the winter season?
Kate: Getting our manufacturing done before any stay-at-home orders are handed down is a big worry. We’re expecting a surge-on-a-surge to emerge in mid-December and we need a bit more time to get everything done. Even if businesses aren’t shut down, if daycares or schools are, we will have a major staffing problem. And although we are a family business, we also follow the rules, and without the Governor’s OK to pod with a trusted family, my husband and I will have to do the work of 5 or 6 people with only us two. Not sure how we can sustain that, as well as parenting and keeping a home (and my husband’s day job) as well as teaching our kids, and staying healthy ourselves. Best not to think about it. One day at a time. It is also difficult to source components in a timely manner, but we’ve mainly planned around that. Just hoping I can get the bits and pieces I need as we go.
KC: How can people support Vermont Evaporator Company right now?
Kate: Check out our product offerings and buy something, or refer a sugar-making friend! Believe it or not, even if you don’t make maple syrup, there may be something there for you! We carry fancy bottles, high quality fire grates and pokers, t-shirts and maple antiques in addition to our maple syrup making supplies and equipment!
KC: Any exciting updates about Vermont Evaporator Company you’d like to share that you haven’t already?
Kate: We now carry buckets and spiles, filters, thermometers, hydrometers, drill bits, and a starter kit. Everything for the hobby sugar maker.