by Kathryn Millhorn | Photos courtesy of Scatter Creek Winery & Brewing
One thing 2020 has shown us is that we can all adapt, pivot and evolve. We’ve added masks, Zoom and social distancing into the hectic schedule of work, school and daily life. Savvy entrepreneurs are inventing creative ways to keep their small businesses going. Scatter Creek Winery and Brewing owners Andrea and Terril Keary are working hard 24/7 to keep your home cupboards well-stocked until we can meet in person again.
Scatter Creek crafts a variety of beer and wine for every taste. Reds and whites, Hefeweizens, IPAs, Stouts and Porters are made, sampled and sold from their Tenino Tasting Room and Brewery. Before Coronavirus, they welcomed guests to come to try, buy and enjoy classic and seasonal specialties. Now, however, new statewide mandates mean adapting to overcome.
“COVID-19 was a huge impact,” admit the Kearys. “Especially having to close the doors for a while then needing to make changes to operate. The costs were above what our cushion allowed. And as soon as you would make the investments and changes, things would change again—all festivals and events—which we have loved and done every year—now gone. Your customer base is divided: half are willing and wanting to come to see you, and the other half are still terrified, and no matter how much they love you and want you to succeed, they are struggling themselves. The impacts have been awful, devastating and trying on your passions. Being in business is not for the faint of heart.”
But they’re working hard one day at a time, thanks to partners like Thurston Strong, a regional Economic Recovery Initiative. Thanks to a recent Thurston Strong Standup Grant, Scatter Creek purchased tables and chairs for their newly expanded outdoor seating area. The organizers donated masks and sanitizer for staff and guests.
“The outdoor seating was an absolute mandate to operate and will be kept even after this is over,” the Kearys explain. “To add that 100 feet of space cost thousands of dollars, but it adds to the business, and it was the plan to do eventually. But not during a time we were struggling to survive.”
Aside from the expanded outdoor seating – which also necessitated barriers, umbrellas and supplies – they’ve developed new ways to stock up at home. “Since the slow-down, we have implemented changes. We are still offering curbside pickup and making deliveries to the customer’s door with free delivery in Thurston County. We also set up our online shopping cart for online sales.”
Despite the chaos, they still consider this their calling. Andrea, born and raised in Olympia, and Terril, a California native raised in nearby Mason County, started Scatter Creek in 2005. The Brewery came along in 2017, and they’ve loved every minute. “Owning a small business is the most rewarding experience in the world. However, it is not for the faint of heart and not a get rich quick idea. It’s blood, sweat and tears and takes more strength than you ever thought you had in you to make it through all this.”
To find out more about the Creek’s latest offerings, follow them on Facebook or read their monthly newsletter at www.ScatterCreekWinery.com. The Kearys admit that their location is “off the beaten path, our business is a destination, so communication is key.” But until things settle down and visitors can meet and mingle again, “we are trying to find a new norm, a way to operate and stay afloat during the most trying of times. We are fighters, more determined than ever! We love our customers and focus on that even in the hardest days of all. They believe in us; they want us to make it. They are the heartbeat of our company.”
No one knows what lies ahead, but together we’ll figure it out by relying on friendships, partnerships and community. Andrea Keary explains that “Terril’s motto has always been ‘fast to rise, is fast to fall; slow and steady wins the race.’ There are still so many things we would like to have, but not until the time is right. It’s frustrating, but slow and steady growth has worked for us. Here’s to many more!” Raise a glass of Scatter Creek wine (or beer!) to a strong, vibrant future for all of us.