Back tracking

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.

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Falling behind (on blog, that is)

It seems there are more weeks between posts every time I look than the time before. I guess that can be a good and a bad thing. Busy enough at the store that I can’t find time to write, but too busy to write and people lose interest because there is no new content. I am part time at the clinic now, so I shouldn’t complain.

My store is plump full of decor, I have 10 vendors that are successful selling their inventory. My store room also is full of goodies waiting to be painted. The outside is a pretty typical junk store, old bikes with wire baskets full of geraniums, an old wringer wash tub with a potted flower. I think our location is ideal for a small town, but people still have trouble finding it at first.

I watch Facebook like a hawk, still giddy that the “likes” are on the rise, almost 800 now. Twitter seems foreign to me, so I don’t do it, which is ok because I don’t think anyone else does that much around here either.

Being open every other week Thursday through Saturday is new to me. It hasn’t been super successful yet, so weighing in on that. If I’m off from clinic to spend time working on the projects at the store, I may as well be open! I have people stop in at all times anyway. If my big blue Ford is outside, come in!! I did buy a truck a few weeks ago, which makes sense for all the hauling I do. And its a pretty one!!

A surprising sideline that popped up and is keeping me busy and the extra money is handy is the custom work I do. I have had several jobs of customers bringing in their own pieces and I paint them. It is a little more nerve wracking to work on THEIR piece, so far so good!

I’ve ordered my second batch of business cards and have went through several hundred price tags. Obviously things are selling and people are visiting. I think it’s going well. My hubby is interested in the financials. Cutting down hours as an RN is taking a considerable pay cut. I have to work many more hours at Tattered to make the same money as the clinic. I have somewhat a sense of calm now working either 2 or 3 days a week punching a time clock. I didn’t give up that skill and we still have health insurance. When I first started Tattered, I asked one of my mentors in a similar store about the money and she told me the money she makes goes right back into her store, they live off her husband’s income. Right now, I would say I definately put money back into the store with the rent and the junking trips, but, I always have cash to give to my boys that seem to always have their hands out for gas money, lunch or some sport thing. So, there is some money for the Nelson family. Just never seems to find it’s way into the checkbook! I know I have to be more of a negotiator when I go picking. I guess I don’t want to come off as a cheap skate and get a bad reputation. I am getting better at saying no. People approach me with things they want to sell. I first look at if I like it, if it will sell and if I can make a profit. I feel bad saying no, but it is a business. No one has ever gotten mad for me saying no either. So far.

Writing is like exercising. I kinda dread it, but once I’m done, I feel good and glad I did. Now… why can’t I get back on that treadmill!??

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Meanwhile, here at Tattered….

It’s been exactly one month since the last update post. Time has past enough to give another update.

Next Monday I will be part time at the clinic so I can devote more time to the store. I seems to me that it is not really happening! I have always worked for someone else and full time. I started working when I was 15. I took some time off after my second son was born. I tried to be a stay at home Mom, but it wasn’t for me. I really give credit to those Moms and Dads out there. If I would have had computers and blogs and Facebook back then, I maybe could have handled it. It won’t be that I will have all this extra time on my hands. just that I won’t have to go at maximum overdrive mode.

The weekends open have been successful.  The store seems to sell about have of the inventory by noon on Saturday. Ideally, we will have replacements to pull from back room instead of it being a first come first serve situation. There is always things to work on waiting in the back room. I have accommodated several customers that have asked about certain pieces they had in mind. Often I show pieces that are waiting to be fixed up and it seems to be just what they are looking for, so I get to sell it. I have also did custom work for a few where they have brought in their piece and painted to their request.

Pink and Blue Mason Jars with Chevron - Cover Photo

I am trying to build Tattered’s branding image now. I am excitedly waiting for another draft of a logo. So pumped to unveil it. I am fortunate to have a friend who is a graphic designer who also is a vendor for Tattered. I plan to order custom bags and am in need of more business cards. With the expanded store hours, I should publicize that in the papers. I find that advertising is so expensive, BUT, there are a lot of people who don’t Tweet or use Facebook. So the old fashioned route must be used.

A mentor of mine told me when I first started not to invest so heavily in the store. She said just to recycle grocery bags, use a calculator, never advertise. I have followed that advise. There are times when you have to find your own way too. I bought a cash register because I felt like I was running a rummage sale instead of a brick and mortar store. I put my beautiful merchandise in crinkled up Walmart bags. I just feel cheap and unprofessional. I guess it’s not the image I want to portray. Even though the name is Tattered, it doesn’t actually mean that is how everything has to be.

So I plan to upgrade the image, a more grown up Tattered. I think that is how businesses can be successful though. Never to get stale, keep moving and shifting as needed. I did already upgrade the Facebook page  with an awesome timeline from Leesa Dykstra Designs. She does beautiful work. So much talent. I am working on building the fan base for Facebook. I think for only being open for 5 months, over 600 likes is something to be proud of. So keep the love coming and visit me at Facebook too!

Thanks for your support, please share my pages with your friends. I am hoping to update this site more now that I will be part time at the clinic, YAY!!

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5 things I have learned so far…after starting the business

1. There is less time to blog.

I look back to when I first starting posting my journey, there was something like 17 posts that first month. I am lucky if I can squeak in 2 now. It has become one more thing TO DO. But I enjoy it and want to spend more time on it when I can. So if it is important, keep doing it. It is a thing on the To Do list, but it is a good thing. That is with anything that gets to be a “burden” Do an assessment, if is important to you and necessary, keep on, otherwise, let it go.

2. The majority of people want me to succeed.

Why did that surprise me? No idea. I guess in the days of negativity, I believed that why would anyone root for me? There has been sooo much support. From the city leaders, to the people in charge of the grant, to my family and friends and just local people. At first, the locals didn’t know what the store was going to be. There has been a lot of curious townspeople that have stopped by. The negative person in me would say to snoop. When they keep coming back in to see what is happening, I feel, maybe, there is a little hope and encouragement and EXCITEMENT!!

3. I probably will find enough old stuff to work on.

My biggest worry was running out of stuff to work on and to keep the store filled up, Right now, my work room is full to the brim. I just don’t have enough time to work on all of it! There is always a “lead” Someone on my list that has either contacted me to get their stuff or I have heard about. Really…. that was my biggest worry when I started this business… “How would I keep the old stuff coming in?” Isn’t it funny how the things that worry us the most, end up being NOTHING to worry about?? That is why God tells us to put our worries in his hands. He will take the burden. Trust in the Lord.

4. There is only so much time in a day (which has been said how many times?)

At first, I was probably running on adrenaline. The excitement of what was to come. I worked my 40 hours a week at the clinic, stopped by the shop to see what Nate was doing, yeah, he was working, but that was usual. I did what I could on the remodel. Really, what he accomplished in about 3 weeks is remarkable. He is awesome. I am lucky he had a little time off work to help me out. 

We have agreement after 20 years together. He says he can’t, then I say he can! I am his encourager, his cheerleader, his believer, his boss and his motivator. I believe in him to my core. Anything he does, I completely have faith in him. I know he will succeed in anything he does. He is smart and a hard worker and I am so very lucky to have him in my life.

Fast forward to the girl that is writing this. I believe I have held up pretty well, with the occasional melt down. Really not huge issues considering. I may drink a little beer once in a while, or a glass of wine or (whine) I need to give my all at my job at the clinic—-40 hours a week. I did negotiate my hours down to 2o/week starting this coming June. By negotiate, I mean at the clinic AND the above worshipped man, NATE. He is soooo stable, he does not like risk. But my goodness…. how much can I take? Like, there is only so much hours in a day right? I bitched about this in a previous post, so I won’t go there again. LOL. My take on this is, you will know your melting/boiling point. Listen to it. Things will work out. Even though I will get 20 hours less at Sanford, I will probably put 40 more in at Tattered a week. What it that old saying? The more you make the more you spend? Totally true. Give it up. Give something up. For me, it has been my housework. I like to have a clean house. Suppers are also lacking and my time with the family in the evenings have been sacrificed. That is why I need to cut down at the clinic. There has to be BALANCE. Which, I think, was also a previous post.

 

5. Some things come easy

When there is a passion, I believe things will come easy because it doesn’t seem so much like work. That is why your Mom said find what you truly enjoy doing and make a career out of it. I tell my son Tucker that. He is 17, he will be a senior next year. He loves motors and tires and mud. He loves the outdoors and his friends and girls. So, I have encouraged him to find something he really enjoys. He wants to attend college, I don’t know if that will come easy for him. Of course I support his choice. As a Mom, I have encouraged him to go for conservation management, because with his desire for college and me knowing he loves the outdoors, I think that should come easy. That is for him to find out. I just have to love him and support him. 

For me, there have been things that have come easy or at least easier than I thought. Like above mentioned, getting old furniture has been easier that I thought. 

I also have worked many, many hours more than I am use to. I don’t watch TV much anymore and haven’t missed it too much. Usually there is so many re-runs, I figured it will play again soon enough. So, I don’t mind working more and sitting on the couch less. If only someone would do our housework!

Customers: They are there!! I really didn’t know what to expect. I just believed they would come. I am surprised every weekend with the support and encouragement I receive. I am learning as I go. I throw out an ad in a paper (which I think is so expensive and hate spending $ on) I don’t advertise that much. One of the hard things now that is a downfall is that customers are confused as to when the store is open. Until June when I can reduce the hours to part time, I really can’t publicize the future hours.

The flip side of customers is competitors and peers. I think the biggest misconception in business is that everybody needs to fight for themselves. I started from scratch.

So many times I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I will tell you one thing. Find some friends in the business. The people I thought would be competitors when I first started, were my biggest assets!. Meghan from The Red Poppy and Becky from Aunt B’s have been such a resource for me! They have been so generous with all my newbie questions. I hope I can be a help to someone who is starting out. It’s wonderful up in the north country to have friends in the business and to network with these gals who have already traveled down my path and are courageous, LIKE ME!!

So, I will keep trudging on. I have pissed off some people I am sure and inspired the ones that really matter. I have only been open for 3 months and have only BARELY scuffed the surface. I have so much to do, of course not enough time to do it all. Two nights ago I prayed to God to make me a less negative person. Shit, I don’t have time to be negative. I am on Facebook. It is a wonderful tool for marketing the business. There is also a personal side. Honestly, isn’t there “friends” that annoy and irritate you? For me, YES! So much that I was finding myself getting very distracted and negative from what those people were saying. WTH?? Do I need or have have time for that? NO.

Sorry for the personal side of the business, but we are all people after all and that is part of the business too. So embrace it! Love you guys, thanks for your support!

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Mid March Blahs

We are still in deep up north! Seems like every Monday drops another 6 inches of snow here. First day of spring and I think it was something like -10 degrees this morning. Minnesota winters are LOOONG.

Looking forward to spring for many reasons, but regarding the business: I will be reducing my full time nursing job to 20 hours per week and I can’t wait to add some curb appeal to the store. People probably can’t even see the store from the highway with the huge snow piles everywhere!

I was open last weekend again and am impressed with the sales. If I was open everyday and made those sales, maybe the hubby would finally be convinced. He is a safe person. My nursing job is a safe job. What I am doing at Tattered is risk. He is having a hard time with me cutting my hours down to part time. I still get health insurance, which nowadays is probably the most important consideration. I am not getting my ideal days off, but I think it will work out for the best in the end.

The big task this week has been fumbling my way through Quickbooks. We did our taxes for last year and Yay! Tattered is at least a tax write off. Hopefully all of the investment we put in 2012 will turn to profit for 2013. Quickbooks was a little tricky and I spent 3 nights playing. It finally fell into place last night. I have all the accounts set up and entered in bills and sales receipts. So far, no loss yet!! I do know that being open one time a month is not enough to make it big. Pretty much covering the expenses and a little extra. Nothing going back in the personal checkbook yet. I think that is normal, try telling Nate the Great that.

I decided to take advantage of a gun show in my small town Saturday and be open an extra Saturday. If I tagged along with my husband to a boring gun show, I would definitely tell him to drop me off at a cool place called “Tattered.”

I am so excited to create and make things people like. I have butterflies in my tummy. Like I said in Facebook today, I feel like a tulip buried under the snow in March, waiting to blossom!

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Learning process

I have two vendor shows under my belt with mixed success. Both weekends have had harsh Minnesota winter storms. The first show was very busy and the weather didn’t deter many people. The one I attended this past weekend, I’ll have to chalk that up to a day of marketing myself and the business. VERY slow. My booth attracted a lot of people and i got a lot of positive comments. All of the vendors had a slow day. The worst part of day was unlading and loading of the furniture.

I like attending the vendor shows to meet people and to market the business, but hauling the junk that goes with it is not easy work. SO, what I learned is if I continue to attend these shows after the business opens, I will bring things like 20 shelves of assorted colors or 15 barn wood signs, things like that. Not everything in the store.

Owning your own business is a learning process and if we aren’t learning, we likely aren’t succeeding. I have no background in sales and marketing. My background is nursing. I have worked in a retail store, but that didn’t prepare me. I am learning as I go. I am networking with similar business people. They are so willing to share their experiences and I soak it all up. I am reading what I can on the subject. The internet has so much information. I really don’t know how I could be without it now. Knowledge is instant now. A thought or question pops into my head, so I ask Google. The funny thing is, my questions can be long, but there is usually a pretty close answer that someone else has put out there. So their experiences now I can learn from too.

The city administrator of our small rural town asked me what my marketing plan is.

Yeah, ummm….

Ok, I am reading about marketing. I have did some things right. Tattered has a Facebook page. This blog here attracts a little attention. I have been trying to decide if I need to hire a website designer. The web community think WordPress is a great site to develop a website off the blog. I know that I want to purchase a domain name. Tattered.com is taken. I read that adding something that describes the business in the domain name can be extremely beneficial. It works out that Tattered is already taken.

I plan to use Tattered-Vintagedecor.com. See how vintage decor is in the domain name? That should help the SEO if someone types in vintage decor into the search engine.

I just get confused on all of the ways to organize all of the social media type marketing. I’ve got the blog and Facebook, there’s my Pinterest site. I recently registered for Twitter and I think Tumblr. Is there on portal site that you type one story and disperse to all of the other sites?? If not I’m gonna TM that!

When life gets hectic and I get anxious and nervous about all the things I have to do, I like to make lists. I have also learned that I am a visual learner. The reason I found this out is our time building our home and more recently, the addition to the house and now the Tattered shop. My husband can talk til the sun goes down, but unless he draws me a picture or takes spray paint to mark out exactly how big this room will be, I’ll never get it. That’s why getting it out on paper for me to see what I need to accomplish helps me visualize it and benefits my peace of mind.

Its funny too. With my love of computers and the internet and my smart phone, my lists are handwritten on a piece of paper.

Busy remodeling

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Quick update on the renovation. It is moving along well. Still working full time, but forging ahead with plans. Reno is nearing completion. Nate has been working his butt off. I will try to give more information as time allows!