For the retailer in you.
Do you remember the blogs before the "blogs"?
The posts of writing with very few photos.
When they were a web log?
Today may feel like a throw back to that as this is a long post with little photo fun.
If you are only here for the photos, today isn't your day. Sorry about that.
If you aren't here for the real life of running a business, it's still not looking good for you.
Today is a thought day!
It's an answer to your curiosity day.
It's a post that might hit on the things people don't want to hear if they too are considering opening their own business.
It's also a long post full of words.
So, here's the thing. I get asked more and more frequently by people in the shop but mostly by email from my far and wide readers about my thoughts on running a small business.
How did I do it?
Do I regret it?
How much does it cost? (more than you can imagine)
Will I still be able to have a life?
It's something I have been meaning to write here for awhile as I type out the answer a few times a month to followers.
In case you are really new here, this blog has been in operation now with me as the sole author for 6 years. The business you now know me for only grew out of it in the last few.
I am a Registered Dental Hygienist by trade and still manage my time running a business in that as well.
I am also a woman, wife, daughter, friend, and shopper. There are obviously other things that I am good and bad but lets just leave that there for a moment and focus on the shopper, retail owner aspect of this conversation.
When I go to work in Hamilton to clean teeth, I often spend my pre patient mornings, lunch and after work hours running around picking things up, delivering items for the shop. In between if I have a few moments I loved sneaking down the mountain to check out some cute shops, one of which was "The Edit".
It was a small fabulously curated vintage shop with clothing, some home accessories but my favourite was the vintage jewellery. Many pieces made their way home with me and I wear them frequently .
This shop is closing.
Yen, the owner has made the courageous decision to focus on the increasingly growing online presence she holds on instagram and on etsy and focus on that without the overhead of a brick and mortar store. This lovely woman also has another business which she also focuses time on if I remember correctly in landscaping.
I read her blog post on closing the shop and thought, I need to share this post.
I wrote to her on insta and asked if she would mind and she said yes so I am posting her words on what it is like running a vintage business in today's online and walmart world.
I shortened a bit of it but for those of you that want the perfect answer, there unfortunately isn't one but this is close. I nodded my way through a lot of her words. A vintage business is a different animal and I have curbed some of her post as it really applies to the city of Hamilton but,
~from the edit blog
And there it is...
So there it is.
To answer the questions I posted above, there really is no answer.
I love my job and am becoming incredibly fortunate to have an amazing customer base that is growing rapidly, but that isn't always the case and sometimes no matter how much you love your idea of business it isn't something others love or maybe people can't find you.
My business growth and reach is based heavily on social media and word of mouth referrals.
We are in a building that is before all the "action" in Fonthill and one that is at the end of a lane merge so everyone's head is turned the opposite direction when they drive by.
We have a large amount of new customers coming in on a daily basis still because of our heavy social media presence (yippee) but many of these people like to tell us/me that they didn't know we were here to different ranges of condescending lecturing about my poor advertising skills or unreliable signage that I spent a lot of time designing, editing and paying for. Sometimes it gets "tough" to hear these things and frustrating but it is all a part of retail.
The day to day to quote above is "tough"
Everyone has an opinion and loves to offer it.
I work and then come home and work some more. In order to run any kind of retail based business you better love and, almost more than love what you are selling because you are going to be living and breathing it non-stop for at least the first year.
I am also a self realized micro-manager.
To some this makes me a bitch.
My wonderful employee manager is helping me let some of this go but also completely understands that this is my baby and I need/want it to grow in my vision and sometimes micro managing is what it takes.
When part of your business is vintage you need to remember that once you sell your items, are you going to have time to find more? Do you have a good handle on areas to look? Do you know the price points your area can handle? Because if you don't rest assured, they will find it elsewhere in places like Etsy which is open 24/7 or buy a replica in places like Homesense.
When you make items (like my pillow collections), are you making them the best way possible and efficiently enough to make a profit? Are you able to carry through with requests from customers in the time frame you promise?
We have had only 1 run in with a customer in the shop that didn't realize there aren't an army of people sewing for us in the back and didn't listen to the time frame given. The situation was rectified but are you prepared to handle those people and not lose them as customers?
Your customers are going to expect you to deliver, and deliver frequently.
Are you ready for that pressure?
Do you know how to handle the paperwork end of the business? If you've never done it before, you might want to pack some reading hours into some bookkeeping books for your area and find someone you can ask questions of.
I suppose to wrap up this long conversation, I don't have all the answers and am learning a new answer daily but there things I know for sure
1) love what you do, i know i do more than i can tell you or convey here
2) surround yourself with the best help you can afford, this includes making sure your family support system understand and i mean really understand what you/they may be giving up/gaining
3) find people also in retail and ask questions
4) do what you do as best as possible, give it 110% all the time
5) learn to use social media properly
6) have fun because otherwise what's the point
7) love what you do
8) set boundaries. when we first opened the doors we were desperate to get people in the door and love us. love me. love my idea.
as a business owner you always want to continue to grow but that gets out of control so quickly. i no longer answer emails/ Facebook shopping ( the do you still have? whats the price of?) questions after 8-ish pm. in our social media world that i just told you to get good at, you can also lose yourself and your handle on life by giving too much of yourself to people who expect a 24/7 service. they don't mean it but for the love of your business and the success of your life you need to set boundaries before you explode into an anxiety driven nightmare
Did you make it this far?
I suppose any conversation that goes like this one should end in thanks.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for shopping and
thanks for remembering that you matter more than you know in the cycle of your life, home, business, and city.
Have a good one everyone,