Today is the first Saturday that I didn't have to go into the store and it was a very different feeling. Our hibernation spot is small however it will work for online sales and an occasional popup. Once we got up the dressing room we realized there would be no room for crafting in this space. It did feel nice to finally give my house a cleaning after the holiday craziness. Missing the store though makes it hard. Not seeing the customers. Not interacting with the vendors. It is going to be a long winter!
In order to make room I researched different ways to move some inventory. This week we posted ten items and going to try a silent auction format that I found out there. Hoping this will give us some room so we can start moving around a little more.
As I sit here looking out at the beautiful snow and enjoying the tea (not a coffee person) with the doggies, I think back how much going to craft shows can be so much work. Oh how I don't miss them and really prefer to have my stuff in the store where it is always available...without me hauling it anywhere!!
We set up Friday night and ended up driving home in terrible weather. Then back out into that terrible weather Saturday morning to go hang with our booth for the day....a day that is longer than my usually Saturday hosting the store. Then on top of these hours it was time to pack up all of stuff, pack it back into mom's crossover, haul it all back to the store where we had to unpack it. For these 12 hours invested into a sale, we sold less than what a day at the store for 4 hours.
As the store vendors are discussing what to do with 2020 and having little heat at our location yesterday did remind me of so much. I listen to lots of podcasts on business...lots!! My brain is like a sponge for that stuff...as well as doggy behavior. So where do we want to take the store I ask myself? Without considering all the hurdles as those come along. What gives me the greatest pleasure? It is always important to start your brain off in a positive place and focused on where what you are truly looking for. My vision for the store is to continue to have a place that gives small businesses a place to grow or once they get to where they want to land the outlet to sell their product.
My reasons why I ask myself...the pros of keeping the store open. I really enjoy working with people to help them see the good in themselves and what they have to offer. The repeat customers that visit to share with us a little about themselves and know they can find a gift here. The new customers just discovering us saying wow I wish I knew this place existed sooner. All of our customers are such a blessing. Then there are the vendors that make up the store and I really want to help them grow their business, pushing them at times to stay focused on what they want for themselves. Maybe I should worry more about sales however want to see them exceed at their business!! The store gives them the tools and location; they need to give the rest. Even if I had more time to give to the store don't think this thought would change because I don't just want to be a store, I want to be that place that encourages small business to take themselves to where they want to be. Last but not least is anyway is what the store gives to me directly. This place is my escape from the real job that one has to have, it is my place to be creative, it is my place to connect with others, it is my place to watch my own growth.
My reasons why I tell myself to just close up during the cold season and take a chance on reopening later. First the weather can really suck in the winter!! The store can get really cold and there is no other place to move to. This hurdle is fixable with taking on the extra electricity cost of heaters. Next vendors as their rent is needed to make the store possible because well money is needed for everything right. This hurdle is a tough one because it depends on the customers buying product. What I do notice is those vendors that invest time into growing their business are exceeding. The ones that are trying new things that keep the customers returning to their product. The ones that are coming into the store to keep their displays stocked with fresh product. I don't have the time to give to those that are not keeping their business fueled. There is nothing I can give to make this better and it hurts me to see when they decide to leave. Last is the time it takes to run the "backside" of the store. There are times I feel my own business is being neglected as I cannot create or focus on my products. The boutique is used for a financial supplement to the store however it is my time to do it as well as my funds. So the last hurdle is a big one too....finding the time to stay organized as I am not happy that I am really sucking at this!!! I try to be focused at the store to get this paper work done but often the distractions take that over and when the store isn't open I feel I need to the family. If we remain open I need to set boundaries for myself and be more mindful of my schedule by actually scheduling store business time just like I do store hostess time. Marketing is another BIG hurdle; as I try to keep up on all the ways possible (thank you podcasts). We don't have a budget for this as we barely cover store costs. What would be ultimate hurrah to this....find a marketing student that can use us to build their resume and/or complete a school project. Then the last hurdle on my mind is hours....we are doing great with being open Tuesday through Saturday....but how do we fill those spots. How do I encourage vendors to take atleast a shift a month is really great for their business growth as they get to experience the store, work on their display and do hands-on time with the customers and their products. This hurdle seems to be my most challenging as it really depends on others and really affects the store from the very beginning, store needs to be open for the customers, we need customers for sales, we need sales to keep vendors happy, we need happy vendors to keep the store open, we need vendors to work shifts to have the store open, and it goes on and on.
So after all this typing and thought processing I still don't know what to think as it all is just rattling around in my head. What will 2020 bring to Why Not? Things will stay the same? Hours will be limited? Close seasonally? Close entirely? If only I had a magic 8 ball to tell me. However this store started out as one month and we are now entering our twenty-fourth month. Wowzers!!!
When we hear a great suggestion from someone we like to us it!! The former dressing room that Braun's Manufacturing and Welding (my talented brother) created for us to be used in St. Peter has found a spot in the Le Sueur store. It is going to be used as a consignment closet. People can take away the hassle of selling and meeting buyers by simply bringing their clean nice clothing to us. For a month we will display them in the "WHY NOT CLOSET". At the end of the month they collect their unsold items along with a check...or store credit. Loving that this idea was suggested to us. Hope we hear more of what the community would like.
This store was created on a whim and well we just keep moving forward with what is given to us. I stopped down to rent a smaller space at the Valley Green Square so I could store product for an online store...and well ended up signing a four month lease on our former store space. Crazy right!!! I am so excited that the vendors have decided to take a weekday afternoon that is theirs to be at the store. It allows us to be open much more and no one will get burnt out. Totally not what I was expecting would happen that is how it seems we roll. I really hope the LeSueur community welcomes us back and our small businesses are supported with sales. These people work so hard on their products and I just really want it to be worth their while. Fingers crossed this was the right move.
Today we closed the store so I can prepare for my next surgery to get use of my arm fully back. Mom & I started this store for just one month on December 2017....twenty one months letter decided to take a break so I can recover without being stressed out. Today was harder than I thought it would be. Sad to see the store being emptied. Confused on where to put everything. Working hard on building the website...while wondering if people will even visit it. Unsure if we made the right decision to close. Life is so full of uncertainties.
What started out as giggles between my mom and I while unloading for a craft fair became opening for one month which became growing friendships and a store that is possible because everyone believes in it. I have been very blessed with this and so happy I can make it possible for all of the small businesses that have joined us. Let me take you along on this journey with me. Hugs ~ Sandi