The re-release of Sisyphus this week made me realize just how appropriate the myth of Sisyphus as a metaphor for opening and running a business is. In fact, it feels so appropriate that we have made a COVID-edition Sisyphus t-shirt to commemorate this release. Only a month ago, I was feeling optimistic that there was a light and the end of the tunnel and wrote about the great support we had received from our community during this difficult time. Little did I know that, to belabor the metaphor, there was a much higher peak hiding behind the rise that I was then approaching. As we fight our way up this super steep slope with a freaking heavy boulder, I figured this is an opportune moment to remind all our fans to support your favorite local businesses.
While it feels awkward to make a plea for support, please know that every purchase directly from Silver Branch and all of our fellow retail businesses makes a difference. We appreciate every order! I know that as we entered Phase I and the Phase 2 reopening, I personally relaxed and have been forgetting my habit of getting take-out from local restaurants at least once a week. I’ve reestablished that habit since realizing that COVID looks poised to last for a looooong time.
A Perfect Metaphor for a Sisyphean Undertaking
Way back when, in the seemingly-distant past before we opened Silver Branch, I decided Sisyphus would be the perfect name for our first beer. It had long since become evident that it was the perfect metaphor for the process of founding and opening Silver Branch.
Nobody expects opening a business to be easy, but the challenges were more extreme, and the stress more intense, than I had expected. For some reason, I took comfort in imagining ourselves as Sisyphus having to put our shoulder to that boulder every time we encountered a challenge. Only to then have the dratted thing roll right back down as the next seemingly-insurmountable problem emerged.
When we finally did get Silver Branch open, it felt like a major victory–one that we would have loved to have basked in indefinitely. But we were realistic enough to know that the sense of having gotten that boulder all the way to the top of the mountain would be short-lived. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before it felt like we were back at the bottom, putting our shoulder to another challenge.
A Lightening Burden
Last March we celebrated Silver Branch’s one-year anniversary. We felt positive—people were enjoying our beer, our wholesale business was growing, we had ordered more tanks to grow production, and, most of all, our taproom and private events business was strong. After a stressful first year that boulder was still rolling back down the hill all the time, but it was feeling lighter month by month.
And then COVID—the Heaviest Freaking Boulder in the World
What a difference a global pandemic can make. I’ve now come to think of COVID as the heaviest freaking boulder ever—and one that seems to gets heavier as the news seems to get more dire. When COVID first hit, we knew it was going to be a heavy burden, but between the support from our amazing local community and government programs like PPP, we had lots of help to lighten that burden. We shifted our business model from a taproom-focused brewery to one that almost exclusively makes canned beer. We launched a home delivery service. We even just installed a new canning line to support the sheer number of cans we produce now.
You Lighten the Burden
As COVID resurges rather than retreats, we hope that people reading this will renew their intentions to support your local businesses in the coming months. Right now the role of each of our fans and supporters in helping us shoulder and manage this burden is as obvious as it ever has been. With your help, we are pushing this freaking heavy boulder up the slope. Thank you