Sunday, April 3, 2011

Welcome to my garden (or not).

I'm an early riser.  Sometimes too early so I lay in bed for an hour and think.

As many of you know, I am "moving" my store May 1st. I don't have a space to "move" to so I am going to focus on my facebook store and a service I call "My Store to Your Door." (Yes, just like it sounds AND I help you clean your closet--taking with me your donation and consignment piles.)  I have loads of merchandise coming in through September and I have to figure out how to make it available to my customers.  I am hoping for a space to open up in the Proctor district.  In the meantime, these two businesses will keep me busy.

The whole idea of having an on-line shop never really appealed to me.  I love being a shopkeeper.   Then a few months ago, something wonderful happened.  I started to post pictures of  merchandise on my Facebook page to let customers know what's new.  They responed by coming in and so did women from other parts of the country.  Enthusiastically. Orders came in and after brief chats to eliminate guesswork about sizing, I began shippping packages.  Big packages.  Fifteen and twenty items.  It was so exciting thinking about someone in Chicago being able to shop at my store!

It made me think of the following analogy.  Let's say my shop's a "garden".  I read several international fashion magazines for inspiration, much like a gardener would pour over a seed catalog.  When I have a clear vision of what I want in my "garden" six months out, I place a carefully chosen order of "seeds".  For weeks, I continue to prepare my "garden" for its seasonal debut.  I look for companions to those carefully chosen "flowers", adding some "ground cover" to fill in the gaps.  After carefully tending, I wait.  A few months later, the UPS guy brings the "flowers".  I place them in my "garden" and add "ground cover"  Then, my wonderful customers come in and "pick" from my garden.  They select things that are already in their "home garden" and this "flower" completes their "bouquet".

In a recession in the Northwest in a winter that has been particularly grey and rainy? It's not as fun being a shopkeeper.

The "seed" that planted the garden analogy came from a visitor yesterday.  She came in looking for pajama pants that have been discontinued.  She wanted those and didn't care about looking at the rest of the "garden".  She only liked "peonies" and since I didn't plant any this year, she left.  And it hit me...

The internet  allows me to connect with people who like what I "plant".  Instead of hearing "I don't like blue.  Does it come in red?" I hear "LOVE this shade of blue! I'll take it!" "Can't wait to see more pictures!"

I've had more than a few people say "you have to have a store! I don't shop on the internet!"   I have to bite my tongue when it is asked by people who haven't stepped foot in my store or browsers who haven't purchased something in a few years.  As much as I love what I do, it's not a hobby.  It's how I pay my bills.  If you are a customer at my brick and mortar store, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your loyalty, suppport and friendship.  I'd add that your support and commitment to "go local" builds a stronger community for us all. I am so grateful for being able to have a brick & mortar store for 11 years. It really is a dream come true. 

The reality is that if I want to have a viable business, I must embrace technology and how consumers want to shop.   It's just a sign of the times. So, I am hoping you will pop in this month for a visit.  Also hoping you will join me on this journey and while I am "store-less" will follow me on facebook or book a "Store to Door" visit.  My goal is to have a little studio/storefront in a few months. 

We'll see.