Carol Perry: COVID-19 is reshaping how we do business
After my Zoom doctor’s appointment recently, I needed to go to the pharmacy. I now use grocery delivery so I have the personal shoppers at Instacart to thank for not substituting broccoli for asparagus but this time I needed to go to the store myself.
I went into the CVS store on the corner of Winnie Lane and noticed that not only were there no customers in the store, but no clerks were at the registers. The only staff working were in the pharmacy, safely enclosed behind plexiglass with a row of cars stretching around the store waiting to use the drive up window.
With only self checkout available I had to navigate the transaction myself. I don’t know about you but I don’t like self check out. Something always requires a personal override so I used to wonder if this technology might never fully catch on. That was before SarsCov2 decided it might like to take up residence in a human host.
I use a lot of technical analysis when looking for entry and exit points on stocks but I started remembering the “Warren Buffett” way of fundamental investing while in the store so I took note of who made the self check station. Then started wondering who was making all that plexiglass along with what companies make the drive up equipment and who does it best.
Upon leaving the store, I surveyed the parking lot of the Frontier Plaza. It was a Monday but the lot looked like a weekend. Several small businesses were closed while Amazon boxes piled up at my doorstep. I know the UPS and Fedex delivery guys by sight but do not know the faces behind all those closed businesses. I felt sad. I also felt old. My first office space was in that shopping center.
I went home and looked around at what was now part of my day. Devices were everywhere. Ring doorbell and security systems, Apple tablets, Amazon E readers. I still take the Nevada Appeal in paper form but read the content digitally and use the paper to start a fire in my fireplace.
In the kitchen I have a Rival Instapot, what a great invention that is. In the bathroom I have a Braun electronic toothbrush so I always get good feedback from the dental hygienist even though Braun is doing all the work.
I’m typing this article in Microsoft windows while looking at an HP monitor. A Samsung phone pings to let me know if I’m getting a text or email. Once in a while I will actually call someone just to hear their voice. They often seem startled and ask if I’m OK.
The changes in the way we live our lives was evolving before the pandemic and we incorporated these changes into our lives without really noticing. Humans are highly adaptive creatures. But the acceleration of changes forced upon us from COVID-19 has allowed large businesses to flourish as they have the resources and ability to adapt while smaller businesses do not. I may not enjoy a Zoom meeting but I have become accustomed to them and I have even gotten proficient at the use of the self check out stations at stores ( I still don’t like them).
As the pandemic continues to displace the work force, I go back to a Joe Rogan podcast I listened to back in February 2019 with a guest I had not heard of, Andrew Yang. He had announced his candidacy for the presidency so I listened to him discuss how the changes coming through advances in AI and robotics were going to put a lot of the U.S. work force out of a job and what would happen to those workers whose skill sets no longer matched jobs available. Little did anyone know how soon some of these changes, many of which will remain permanent, would happen or why.
I thought the idea of universal basic income was unrealistic until I received a $1,200 check for doing nothing this year. Now I am researching the new mRNA vaccines soon to be available. Using messenger RNA instead of a virus to make a vaccine, who would have thought? Pfizer and Moderna did and it is paying off nicely for their shareholders.
If necessity is truly the mother of invention, we may be starting a radical shift in how we handle our every day needs so start looking around and see if what you use everyday may be worth investing in. Or become an Instacart shopper.
On a personal note, I was saddened to hear of the loss of my neighbor Alan Glover. I have lived or worked in Carson City since 1990 and Alan was an integral part of the city’s history. He will truly be missed.