The Truman Show


The Truman Show was a 1998 movie starring Jim Carrey who plays Truman Burbank, an ordinary happy guy who grew up living an ordinary life until he discovers he has been on tv his whole life with everyone else populated by actors for a television show about him.

In the last  week or so, I feel a little like Truman.

In the pandemic’s early weeks and months, we all were at home making DIY cat toys and talking to friends on the phone, and then all of a sudden, at least here in Toronto, it seems that people got bored with that and just resumed normal life, out and about, mask free.

Meanwhile many businesses are still mandated to be closed and places like PGB that can now be open are required to have masks for everyone and follow strict health and safety protocols.

I am good with following the official rules, always have been, and better to err on the side of safety in the foodservice industry. But makes me wonder if there are two different tv shows going on at the same time: one fiction and one reality, and which is which will only be revealed later.

Meanwhile here’s the good news: people are ordering lots of cakes and cupcakes, our team is all healthy and safe, and customers are getting accustomed to the store not yet being open for selecting cupcakes off the shelf – advance orders only right now.

I promised I would tell you here about the process that the PGB management team followed to decide on and implement the plan to downsize from five stores to possibly two.

But now that I turn my mind to doing that, I realize it is a little like being asked how your triathlon went. I hasten to add I have never done a triathlon and never will but I imagine that when the running, the biking and the swimming for hours and hours is all over, it is hard to remember even a fraction of the experience.

Let me say this: it was hard.

It was hard to add up the numbers and see the amount of capital we’d need to pay even 25% of the rent owing and the costs of getting the stores cleaned and equipped again.

It was hard to have all the calls with the management team and address some gnarly problems like how, for example, they would personally be paid for the first month.

It was hard to have the Zoom call with the whole team to say we were closing 3 and maybe 4 stores, and that they would be receiving a call within the day about their personal situation.

It was hard to have – and still is – difficult conversations with the landlords.

And yet, there isn’t anyone in the world, even the little kids, who haven’t found this pandemic hard- it’s just a matter of what each individual’s  “hard” was or is.

If it was missing your Grade 12 grad and not being able to celebrate with all your friends wearing that gorgeous dress you bought back in January, no matter what the parents are saying, it’s impossible to recreate that magical memory later. That’s as hard as what I went through.

Now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,  that maybe by the fall we will know what our restructured business looks like and how it is doing, it feels more hopeful than in weeks. There’s a glimmer of possibility that the difficult process was worth it and the business will keep going.

But I don’t know that for sure. I still think we may all be in a tv show and that the final episode hasn’t been written.


About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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