We were on a spring break vacation in Palm Springs when the pandemic changed the world right under our noses. Suddenly, we seemingly had to re-evaluate all areas of our lives, all at once, and out of nowhere. For example, should we race back home to Toronto? (we did) Should we wear masks on our trip? (horrifyingly, we didn’t) Will the kids still have school? How will we safely get food?
Just five years earlier, I had achieved my dream of buying a company that I could see myself operating for the rest of my life: Baskits Inc. I loved everything about Baskits: the creativity of designing a desirable gift basket, the joy recipients felt when receiving one of our “baskits”, the challenge of molding an e-commerce company with the highest quality products and best-in-class customer service. I poured my heart and soul into the company and have been proud of our results, including significant growth that was recognized with Baskits being named as one of Canada’s top growing companies last year by a major Canadian business magazine.
But now the pandemic was throwing everything into question. For example, in Palm Springs I had been working on the highly time-sensitive task of ordering inventory for the critically important holiday season that was still months away. Will our customers still be ordering gift baskets during a pandemic? Should Baskits be preserving all of its capital in the face of such an unprecedented crisis? Ultimately, I steeled my nerves, took a deep breath and ordered a significant amount of inventory. A big gamble.
Fast forward to a year later, and I feel fortunate to report that the gamble was the correct decision. Although we didn’t fully realize it at the beginning, it quickly became apparent that our customers felt an even greater need to stay connected during these difficult times, and they recognized Baskits as an excellent way to achieve that. We had a very busy year, which we don’t take for granted for one second.
Although Baskits remained busy over the past year, it was still an incredibly challenging experience across the board. We did not let the pandemic delay our 2020 goals which included buying a new 50,000 square foot facility, establishing a new fleet of delivery vehicles, moving to a new ERP system and also switching banks. We accomplished all that while navigating a surge in sales and quickly coming to terms with all the various new regulations and safety protocols. We significantly altered our operations, including closing our stores, moving whoever we could to remote, staggering lunch times, spreading out work stations, setting up a health self-assessment app and instituting a mask requirement, sanitation stations and regular cleaning shifts. We also notified our work force that no employees would be financially penalized if they missed work should they, or a close connection, begin feeling sick.
With the help of all those efforts, and with the tremendous commitment by our employees to the safety protocols and to each other’s safety (and with a very healthy dose of luck), I’m proud to report that we have not had a single COVID positive individual, or even a suspected COVID positive individual, in our facility at any time.
I have learned so much over the past year, but the most important takeaway was the sense of focus the pandemic applied to so much of our business, particularly in respect of our Baskits family and our mission as a company. We have always felt a keen sense of family at Baskits, but our perseverance over the adversity and fear of the pandemic has focused our sense of family and bonded us in a way I didn’t even know was possible. As for our mission, we always knew we were in the business of connecting people, but the profound experiences we have shared with our customers and baskit recipients over the past year has focused our understanding of this mission and focused our resolve to keep our customers connected in the most meaningful and impactful manner at all times. This means doubling down on our commitment to sourcing the very best products from around the world and bending over backwards at all times to ensure that we are providing the very best in customer service. We now know even more deeply how much our customers are counting on us, and I can assure you that we are up to the challenge
Robin Kovitz , Baskits CEO: Robin Kovitz is the President & CEO of Baskits Inc., one of Canada’s fastest growing companies. Baskits designs, manufacturers and delivers unique and luxurious gifts across Canada and the US.