Today we have deployed some big changes at The Beverage People that we believe will ensure that our operation remains sustainable and useful over the long term.
This change is significant, a true pivot---a launch of a new business model. Thus far, through the course of the COVID crisis, we have only been developing crisis responses, not any real operational pivot. From our experience, brick-and-mortar retail has fundamentally changed in recent years, and we are changing our business model to allow our company to compete on price, product, and convenience with any online retail platform. We will continue to maintain our highest focus on serving our local community with all the same products customers have come to know and love. By ending the operation of the retail showroom as a public space, we expect to be able to focus more on product development, faster fulfillment, better pricing, and improved instructional content. In this way, we hope our new operation will continue to be a valuable service to the fermentation community.
Consumer behavior has changed in the last few years. We have found that price competiveness and digital access have become increasingly important to people. At the same time, here in Sonoma County the cost of living and business operations have consistently been on the rise, making it necessary for us to do more with less.
Our long-time approach of being all-things-to-all-people has become unsustainable over the long term in an environment where price and convenience dominate. But far from being pessimistic, we know we can build a company that can successfully fulfill the product and hobby needs of our customers as good, if not better, than any other vendor in our industry. We are confident we can provide a better, more efficient and economical fulfillment operation, by ending the public operation of our traditional retail showroom, and channeling our focus more intently on price, product, and educational content, paired with convenience and speed of fulfillment.
To be fully honest, we did not wish to make this change in the middle of harvest. The plan was to make the change after harvest, on November 1. We are a family-run small business, with a very small but talented staff. Jane and I currently have two young kids, both of whom have been displaced from their elementary school and now must shelter with us either at home or work. Each staff member represents a significant portion of our workforce. Due to COVID circumstances, in addition to a major non-COVID related injury of a staff member, our available workforce has become half of what is needed at this point in our busy season. Just this week we have found ourselves compelled to move the date of operational change from November 1st up to today, September 2nd.
In summary, the timing is a response to a compounding of staffing challenges, while the operational changes themselves are part of our long-term business operational strategy.
We have found that many, many customers who have experience with our CURBSIDE PICKUP operation during the COVID shutdowns and restrictions have been very pleased. We have collected a large volume of positive reviews that give us enough encouragement to believe this new operational approach can be a real benefit and positive thing for all of our customers.