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  • Gillette Vaira

Generational Changes from COVID-19

I have vivid childhood memories of time spent at my grandparents' farm in northeastern Montana. My cousins and I would ride four wheelers and blow bubbles in the yard. We'd sit next to our grandma and learn to sew or help to organize her button collection. We'd ride bikes up and down the sidewalk that connected the two houses on the home place. It was a simple - and slower - time. But it wasn't all play! We were also put to work.

Weeds and kids

One of my favorite jobs was to retrieve canned goods from the basement pantry in my grandparents' home. Now, this wasn't your ordinary pantry. It ran the length of the house. Shelving lined the basement from the floor to the ceiling. They could have had their own grocery store! There was nothing they didn't have; you just had to look for it.

As a youngster, I remember asking my mom why they had so much food. (This was, of course, before I had caught onto the best practices of rural shopping.) She told me that my grandparents had experienced the Dirty Thirties, and that they wanted to have enough of what they needed.

You see, my grandparents were members of the Greatest Generation. They had survived the Great Depression and World War II. They overcame years when crops were hailed out and when wheat prices plummeted. As my grandpa said, "Some years, all we can raise out here are weeds and kids."

The changing shopping landscape

As one of more than 71 million millennials worldwide, I can speak firsthand about how our generation's consumer decisions are changing the shopping landscape. It's not news that warehouses, like Costco, are struggling to appeal to younger generations. Our way of life is simply adapting to new technologies and opportunities.

Don't get me wrong - I love a good walk through the aisles as I check out samples and ponder over whether or not I really need a package of 5,000 napkins. However, as I get older and my life gets busier, I've noticed a change in how I do business. And I'm not alone. Millennials want things boxed up and delivered to our door steps. It may not always be cheaper, but it's faster and easier. And during these times, it's safer, too.

As COVID-19 has led to stay-at-home orders, multiple generations are beginning to embrace eCommerce. "Social distancing" and "curbside pickups" are regulars in our vocabularies. Shopping from home is becoming the norm - whether you are getting fast food delivered or having your groceries hand-picked and set outside your door. Sure, these may have been elements of our society before, but COVID-19 has amplified the need for these services.

Changes from COVID-19

Most of us who are experiencing a world impacted by COVID-19 weren't alive for the Dirty Thirties. Yet, we know that Americans who endured that era were changed for the rest of their lives. It makes me wonder how this pandemic will have permanent effects on us, as well. Years from now, will we always grab a pack of toilet paper and disinfectant wipes before we leave the store?

No matter the lasting impacts, future generations will only know about this life-changing experience from the history books they read and from the stories they hear from us. Just like my grandparents and others from the Greatest Generation, it will be up to us to make lifestyle choices to teach the next generations how to be prepared for what could lie ahead. After all, we just never know.

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