For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Kylie, the owner of AQOF. I started AQOF in February 2012 by myself and still run it by myself (with the help of some amazing staff!!). 

I’m not one to make statements - put myself and my life online and on social media  - I tend to stay quiet pottering about in the background... but figured the current circumstances warrant me reaching out.

Over the years I’ve faced many challenges. Within the first 3 months of opening I was held up, accidentally sued (FYI if this happens apparently you have to prove that the person suing you didn’t mean to, not the other way around. Who knew?!) and also ended up in a VCAT saga with a previous landlord. At the time the world wasn’t in the best financial position either so it was a hard start. 8 years and many other challenges later AQOF is still standing.

Unfortunately the current COVID-19 pandemic is going to be my biggest challenge yet. Within a week both my personal and business goals for the year have been put on hold and things have gotten serious, quick. A week ago I was feeling super enthusiastic and excited about what a great year we were going to have and all the things we were going to achieve, even after a wobbly start to the year. Now I’m just planning to survive. The past week alone our sales have been impacted dramatically and we’re being warned it’s just the beginning and it will be around 6 months before things start to stabilise again. 
My main goal is to keep Lisa, Claire and Lia, my staff members employed, doing as close to their regular hours as possible. After that I want to pay my suppliers with whom I already have stock coming, on time. Lots of our suppliers are small, local businesses who are also going to struggle through this and I want to be able to keep supporting them too.
We’re going to be making an extra push online over the coming weeks and months and I want you to know this isn’t because I’m trying to capitalise on the situation, it’s because in the current climate I'm trying to adapt, to survive.

Whilst I know it’s hard time for everyone, I’m a firm believer that if we can all try to maintain some level of normality as a community, such as getting your morning coffee, bread from your local cafe, buying that little gift from your local store rather than panicking and stopping all spending, we can get by and come out the other side of this. A lot of businesses are getting innovative like us, so we can still offer our products and services to you but in a safe way.

I’d like to encourage people, especially until advised otherwise to take the advice to self isolate if required, to reduce any unnecessary contact with others in the community and to help flatten the curve which is vital to us getting on top of this before the situation becomes much more serious like it has in other countries around the world with disastrous effects.  
I have been brainstorming every possible idea to keep my staff employed and my suppliers paid and you'll hopefully see a lot of these ideas being implemented within the next week regardless of what happens. 
On March 21, I made the incredibly tough decision to close our Northcote store until further notice. I believe it is the right decision for our community to close and hope the decision won't be detrimental to my business. We will be updating our social media and facebook daily with updates about what we're doing so please stay tuned. 
I hope that with enough support from our amazing community that AQOF will be able to operate at a level to achieve our new 2020 goal of surviving what is sure to be one of the greatest challenges all of us will face.

This is a great reminder that a little bit of kindness goes a long way and that at the end of the day community is key.

Thanks again for all your support, not just now, but over the last 8years of AQOF.
I'm truly grateful for all the support I've had and all the acts of kindness I've experienced over the years. Every staff member I have had has always commented on how lovely AQOF customers are. You have all definitely made getting through the less fun times worth it. 
Kylie x
March 18, 2020

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