Oops, I forgot to publish my last post 5 weeks ago. Anybody else have things like that happen? Oh well, I just published it tonight anyway. And hopefully, I will publish this one too. If I don’t forget.
Today, 5 weeks after I wrote that last post, (which was just published tonight), I made another decision about the biz. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time, but I am going back to being an “occasional store.” Why…, I am living out my dream? Open every single week, every Tuesday through Saturday. I am not working anywhere besides for myself. My only co-workers are Sophie and Ole, the husband and wife team of Shih-tzus that just lay around, not helping me paint, very lazy. Well I am not sure what is happening, but business has slooowed down. Maybe it’s that summer is over and the rush of summer was a bunch of teachers that loved my stuff. Not sure, I am guessing, this is just my first year of being a business owner. I have spoken to family and another owner of a similar store and our theory lays with the type of business I’m in. Kind of a phenomenon. Back to when Tattered was first open, it was only monthly. Then it went to every other weekend. Then in September, I can’t believe only September, every Tuesday through Saturday. We believe that our shoppers look forward to that one weekend out of the month to see what is new and fresh. Now that Tattered is open all the time, it’s kind of the same old same old. It isn’t just that. My store is wiped out.
Our town had a fall festival the weekend after Labor Day. It was shoulder to shoulder with customers in Tattered. I couldn’t ask for a better day. It takes a while to get restocked, especially when I haven’t been working on restocking the store! I have been only working on the custom work that is piling up on me. I counted out the pages and there was 10 custom orders and 19 pieces to complete. Ouch! With only me to do all this, I have to make excuses to the customers that walk in and there isn’t much to see in the store. That isn’t right. I keep thinking I’ll need to hire help, to do what though? Who around my small town knows how to paint furniture like me and it would be hard to make a profit with extra help. Then I thought, maybe I should try like other stores do and have vendors set up their booths. Maybe I’m too much of a control freak, I am fussy about what I sell in the store and I want to do my own displays. So I am my own worst enemy. I want help, but not really…
My good ol sis told me today, she thinks I should go back to being open just once a month. I called her and told her I was more overwhelmed now not working as a nurse then I was working full time and being open once monthly at the store.Then I called Robyn at Gerties, a brand new occasional shop in Grand Forks. Her partner Kelly contacted me as a mentor when they were getting started and today I called them to bounce off ideas to someone who understands the business I am in. It’s nice to have a partner like these girls do. Of course things aren’t as scary alone, you have an extra mind to talk things through, but again, half the profits go to the other person.
I am back tracking to how it was when I first started. It doesn’t mean failure to me. It may to other people. I am being flexible and trying a different tactic, which is smart. The town my business is in is small, a little over 300 people. Tattered has a large Facebook following too. I post a picture of a new piece of furniture and often, it sells the same day over the phone. I can’t really blame my small town on the slow business. A friend of mine opened a vintage store as well near the Minneapolis area. I see that she is closing her retail location and will continue her journey bringing her goods to other people’s stores. So look at it both ways. Here, there isn’t a lot of population, where she is, there is a lot of people, but also a lot of competition. I don’t know the whole story why she is closing, but it happens. At least she tried! I have good people that have read this story from the beginning and I guess are inspired by my journey. They too are hopeful entrepreneurs and are interested in how I am doing. All I can tell them if they are passionate, go for it. It’s true, being a business owner is not easy, you have a lot less free time, you are more tied down, probably poorer than when you started. We have a lake place that we were at twice this summer (I know poor me).
I am going to keep going. People ask me if I miss nursing and I tell them no I don’t. I have the taste of freedom on my tongue now. I spoke to Nate tonight. He is my hubby that is gone all the time. He is my hubby that is a bridge builder that is GONE ALL THE TIME. Except on Saturdays and Sundays. He likes the life we lived before Tattered. I had steady money direct deposited every other Thursday and health insurance. Now, I deposit checks whenever, mostly once a week and I have Paypal and some cash. Don’t tell Tucker, my oldest son about the cash though, he always takes my cash. We have health insurance too, that isn’t a big deal. Nate is always supportive. What else is he to do? I called him the other day when I couldn’t loosen the chuck on my new drill to change the bit. He states “I can’t really help you over the phone” He did though. I loosened it up and went about the task.
Maybe I should rename the title Rambling Fever. What do you think??
My goal is that the time I am not open, I will still work on all the custom work, have a chance to paint the big pieces that are great sellers, like dressers and get to the piddly fun things all over Pinterest. I need that balance in my store. Not everyone needs a dresser, but what else inspires them to make that purchase. I hate when customers walk in and walk right back out of the store. I know not everyone is going to buy something all the time. Just imagine it as a puzzle and your constantly arranging and changing direction. That makes it interesting. SO, very long story short. It’s ok that I am going backwards. I am not being stagnant and doing the same thing that isn’t really working the best. So if things are a huge struggle and you’re laying awake at night worrying, change something. For me, I try to give my worries to God. I am 41 years old and I think everything I have ever worried about in life has resolved over time and has usually worked out for the better. If you aren’t able to open up a store this year or if you don’t get that job that you dream of, just wait it out, what lays ahead is way better.
So today I started my new full time job. I am a retail store owner. I left nursing behind Friday. I cried like a baby when I left the clinic, but I got over it fairly fast. I am still overwhelmed, I am tackling the custom paint jobs that have been looming. People are starting to pick up their pieces now and money is coming in. I have this big orange buffet-changing table and will be glad to have it find it’s new home. It was painted with latex paint and for a reason I have not figured out yet, feels tacky even after drying for several days. Then the hubby was helping me attach the back piece, he laid that on the top of the buffet and it pulled off the paint. Do you ever have pieces that are just a pain? I was only able to get one door off because the screws were so stuck and stripped. I am not happy with painting pieces when I have to try to paint around a hinge or a knob. There were a few knobs too we couldn’t remove either. Of course it was missing that ONE knob when I got the piece, like with every piece I get in.
I am critical of the work I do and would hate to send out a piece I am not happy with. I am addicted to using chalk paint, so when I have to use latex, it feels like I am painting watercolors. The buffet had 4 coats on and it still showed the wood grain. I finally added a little plaster of paris to my latex to make my own chalk paint. Instant gratification! I will add my usual wax on top and it should be done tomorrow!
There are new things that I am learning. With custom work, people choose their color, which most of the time I have shelves full of my go to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. There has been a few times that I have to go with latex, I plan to use my home made recipe for these too.
I started to wonder if I can make home made chalk paint, maybe I should try another brand. I received a personal like on Tattered Facebook page from CeCe Caldwell. I figured that was worth me trying out her paint. She has a wide variety of colors, more than ASCP. It is cheaper too. I ordered one can, something like Carolina Sun Yellow. I received it and was expecting a very soft butter yellow and opened it up and it was more like primary yellow. I had a little child’s rocking chair that was never painted. CeCe Caldwell is runnier and the grain of the wood really showed thru with one coat. It reminded me more of a color wash. The interesting thing about this paint is that once it started to dry a bit, that soft butter yellow started to show. I gave it 2 coats, then just used AS clear wax over because that’s all I had.
Bottom line is that these 2 paint companies seem like they are in a bitter battle on the internet. I think they are two different types of paint. ASCP is a full coverage paint, whereas CeCe Caldwell is more of a wash allowing the under color to show.
Update: 09/25/13: I forgot to post this over one month ago! lol. Here it is
I think back to when I started this journey. In a corner of my mind I would think “what if?” What if the store was so successful, I could quit my job and do it full time? Nah,,, that would never happen. I have 3 days left at my nursing job, then I’m done… I will open the store every week and not be a nurse anymore. This has taken less than one year to happen.
So how did this happen? Baby steps, small increments. Putting my toes in the water a little at at time to test it. Well, I’m going into the deep end friends! In May, my employer allowed me to cut to part time. That was ideal. I worked Monday and Tuesday, then was off until the next week and worked Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The store open every other Wed- Friday.
This line of work never has enough time in the day. I continue to pick the vintage finds, clean them up, restore and repurpose. I have 10 “vendors” that have their goods in the store. I think the difference Tattered offers is most of the merchandise is things I have created. My vendors have soy candles, handcrafted jewelry, baby items. My sister is the only one who brings in things like I do. I like having creative and quality control.
The big turning point for deciding to close the chapter on nursing was something I NEVER expected or planned. People started to ask me to paint their furniture. Hmm.. ok, I could do that. All of a sudden, my legal pad had 13 custom projects with no time to complete. I never advertised custom work. This is potentially a huge boost to the business!! If the store is a little slow with customers, I have this “back up work.” Right now, I have a buffet waiting to be turned into a orange changing table to match a Dr. Seuss themed nursery, a fireplace mantel disassembled to be painted black and distressed, dressers for several customers and the most recent was an old bike that was salvaged from a ditch. That will be given a fresh color and will find a home in a beautiful flower bed. I think to myself, gosh, can’t they paint these themselves? I guess I find it easy and have to start thinking that I offer a service that other people either have no interest in doing, don’t have the time or just like the way I do it.
I am extremely happy with my future. My husband of course is nervous, but supportive. We had to look for different health insurance and were approved yesterday, so that is a huge relief. I tried not to worry about it. I have learned that God takes care of me and worrying is pointless. Everything always works out in the end, maybe not on my timeframe, but it does.
I have lots of tips and trips to share that I have learned along the way. Can’t wait to share more with you guys. There is such great support and so many of you that want to do similar work. If you have a passion, do it. I wanted to do this for 15 years. If I wouldn’t have been a nurse first, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do it. Everyone says, you can always go back and be a nurse if this doesn’t work out. That is true, but I ignore that statement. I am not going to worry about if this doesn’t work out. I am an achiever. Set goals and obtain goals.
So, today I am painting the office “Robin’s Egg Blue” sounds beautiful right? If cotton candy was blue, thats the color it would be. Not a huge fan, but I bought it for an accent wall for the store and didn’t like it there and don’t like it in the office. It’s going up though, I’m already half done. I want to get a little organized, my downfall is paperwork. More on this topic later… see I even procrastinate discussing paper work!! Haha..