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.
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.
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!!
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 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!
My first experience picking did not go as well as I imagined. I placed a free radio ad and got a call right away. I bought a little flashlight and a pair of gloves, ready to discover the hidden treasures. I drove to a nearby town and found the place right away. I got so excited as I drove into the yard and saw many outbuildings and a garage full of things I would make offers on.
This man was an old bachelor, but what I didn’t know was he was an avid collector too. Anything that I offered to buy, he had some story that it was his mother’s, aunt’s or grandfather’s. I was pretty frustrated as there was a lot of goodies but nothing for sale. He did have a bunch of windows that were not that old and still had the casement framing, sorry, not interested. He offered a mop strainer????? I left with a couple small things, one thing he gave me was a cool vintage desk lamp I refinished in a bronze. I also left with that first picking under my belt. Then another one that left me flat. I am fine tuning what I ask for in my ads.
I have been to a lot of places now and once I worried I wouldn’t have enough to bring to the Vintage Carnival in 2 weeks, now I have so much, there is no way I will get it all ready to bring with. That’s alright. I have the store opening sometime, so I already have inventory for that! Friday night I went to two places, the first one was a vehicle full of assorted stuff. But the best find there was a beveled leaded four foot long window. I am going to have Nate build that into my checkout counter. The second place was the MOTHER LOAD! I had been dealing with this nice gal all week. She had a lot of that vintage blonde furniture from the 1960’s. She had another lady interested, but she was not coming to pick it up. She finally let me know that I could purchase it from her. Holy moly! I can’t remember how many pieces I got, I think 8. Dressers, side tables, kitchen table, mirror, I think there was a sidebar. Beautiful stuff, not sure if I even want to refinish it.