Join Yukon Entrepreneur Mark Wykes, owner of Wykes Your Independent Grocer as we catch up on what has changed since our first interview near the start of the pandemic in May of 2020.
(1:09) Mark shares their first memory of the pandemic. They started seeing it happening in different parts of the world and Canada before it hit the Yukon. Seeing the grocery shelves going empty due to hoarding was the first indicator to them.
(2:13) During the pandemic Mark shares that they learned that their business model works. They were able to remain open throughout the pandemic, sustain all different kinds of challenges, and come out still being able to sell groceries.
(2:53) Learning about their customers, Mark’s business discovered their customers are very understanding and appreciative that they are doing their very best and thank them which is nice. They discuss that there have always been supply chain issues in the north, so customers are typically understanding.
(3:57) Thinking about leadership, Mark has learned that to survive you need to be able to stay calm during challenges out of your control. By being stable and methodical in your approach, dealing with what you can control instead of what you can’t control, then you are in a good spot. They discuss how their strong and resilient their team has been throughout the last two years.
(5:04) Mark shares how proud they are of the modifications their team has made to continue to serve the customer first and how they have collectively come together to ensure their customers are satisfied. There is nothing better than getting feedback from their customers that they’ve done a good job.
(8:03) The hardest health measure that Mark and their business needed to adapt to was back at the beginning of the pandemic when there were so many unknowns. First with social distancing, then mask requirements, combined with ensuring their staff felt safe so they would continue to come to work and serve the community were all difficult things to control.
(10:30) The biggest opportunity Mark sees is putting more groceries on the shelf. The movement for local groceries is something they love. The other opportunity they see is in their online service as it is something they are working to grow and develop into something they are satisfied in. Due to short-staffing caused by Covid-19, they had to make decisions to focus on supporting their in-store shoppers instead of the online orders which caused issues.
(13:11) To better position themselves, Mark has focused more on communicating and planning with their team, along with expanding their management team to provide more support which has allowed them to be more stable overall.
(14:59) As the Yukon emerges from the pandemic and looks to rebuild, Mark hopes this upcoming summer is stronger for the tourism sector which has been hit hard this whole pandemic. They hope that everyone who was doing well pre-pandemic can recover and run better than they had in 2019.
(15:53) Mark’s advice for emerging entrepreneurs? There is so much opportunity out there. There is stability now and we can kind of see where we are going in the future where people should be able to map out a clear path. They share that if they were a young person starting out and wanting to get after something, they feel now would be a good time.
(16:28) Mark shares their aha moment because of the pandemic being that life is short so we should try to figure out how to have fun, take care of ourselves and have time with our families.
(17:30) What wellness practices keep Mark grounded? Sunday road trips! Going for long drives that get them out of the house by themselves, seeing the country and wildlife is where they get their therapy.
(18:24) Mark says thank you to the community for being so supportive and how their staff love to hear the thank yous and kudos. It hasn’t been easy, so having people not beating them up, putting on masks, and following the rules is appreciated.