Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Iron Story

We here in the Pacific Northwest have enjoyed some eerily (what does it MEAN?) and unseasonably warm and wonderful weather the last few weeks. So, the boots have been kicked temporarily into the closet and the long neglected winter feet have been un-socked. Flip-flops on and toes freshly (though hastily) painted, I took a second to relish the magnificence of sandal weather in March and caught a glimpse of an old faded scar on the top of my foot. We get used to the stuff we have had for a long time, the scars and the accompanying stories fade, and we forget. Our eyes scan over them, unseeing.
For some reason, probably the winter whiteness of my foot, that old scar stood out. And I remembered how I got it. I don't know if my mom (you may know her as Mama P, and I hope you know her, because she is the best) even knows this story. It's time she did.
We had moved to Washington State from Northern California a few months earlier, having narrowly missed the big San Francisco earthquake by a few weeks. It was 1989.  My mom, little brother, and I moved in with my mom's mom while my dad's work called for him to travel back and forth to California. We were in limbo, waiting to move to a house, and in an unfamiliar and chaotic place. I had a little 5 year old brother and I was an eighth grader going through those eighth grade things in an all new junior high, feeling disconnected and depressed. We were not close with my mom's side of the family and I longed for my old life, my old house, my old town, and the neighborhood full of friends we had left behind. 
With every crazy thing I thought I was going through, I can't even imagine what my mom was dealing with. All of us pulling at her, needing her for something, wanting her all to ourselves...she was our only piece of home.
On a weekend in December, she asked me (ME!) to go Christmas shopping with her. To the BIG mall. And to DINNER. The next Friday. Just the two of us! That week went by so very slowly. I never could have told you then, could never have named the feeling...but I craved time with my mom. 
The Friday finally arrived and I, an eighth grade fashion plate, set to iron my outfit for the big day. We were leaving right after school and I could not wait. The old iron sizzled, and I pulled my most awesome rayon blouse onto the ironing board. As I did, the iron fell. Right on top of my bare foot.
I pulled it off. Key word: pulled. Everything was already bubbly and burned on the top of that foot, and the only thing I could think of was to put some damn socks on and not tell a soul, otherwise there would be no mall, no dinner, no Mom all to myself that night.
I went to school, and then we went to the mall, and had dinner. My foot hurt so bad, but I did not care. I carefully tried to walk without limping because I got to sit across a table from my mom, my home. Just us. That night when I somehow pulled the sock off my burned foot, I totally cried alone, only sad that the night had ended. 
Eventually, we moved into a home. And I grew up and away from my mom the way teenagers do. When I think back on the way I was to her then...she could (and should) have set me aflame and left me for the wolves. No one would have ever blamed her, but she did not.
And now...I don't think about how lucky I am to see my sweet mom almost every day. Sometimes, I am sure that she would like to push me into traffic because, well, sometimes I can really be a challenge to work with. No one would ever blame her, but she does not. It feels, somehow, like the old scar on my foot, that the love, acceptance, and every thing my mom does is being scanned over. Taken for granted, because I can't remember a time it was not there. Since it has been there forever.
We have spent so much time working, working, working...that I know I have taken her for granted. Seeing that scar was a wake-up call of sorts. Because only just recently have we even been able to spend a few precious hours outside of the shop the way we used to. Time for that to change.
I just want you to know, Mom, that I remember, and I know it, and if we both live to be 200 years old that I could never repay you in gratitude for who you are to me. But I will try. There's nothing I would not do for you. I see you. And I love you. You are my home and I still crave time with you. And I am so lucky to call you MY MOM. The luckiest. Thank you for teaching me how to spray water on wrinkly clothes and put them in the dryer. Because IRONS? I mean, who IRONS? 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Help Me With My Living Room: Part One.

We moved into this house two years ago, darn near. During the same time we moved the shop from Pacific to the current Sumner location. It has been a whirlwind of activity since then and I have done frighteningly little to make this place feel like a home. I have plenty of excuses to validate my behavior, of course (duh), but they all pale in comparison to the simple fact that I DO THIS FOR A LIVING AND IT IS INEXCUSABLE TO NOT LIVE WHAT YOU DO.
One of my main excuses is lack of time. I am busy doing stuff for other people's houses. Which I totally love. And also, a tight budget is all kinds of happening over here. By tight budget I really mean that there really is no kind of money for anything. Welcome to the realities of small business ownership. But making your house a home is not a luxury. Really. We all need the groovy feeling you get when you are cozy and proud in your home. When you make it a reflection of yourself and your family.
Is that something you can relate to? The busy-ness? The budget? Not making your house a home for whatever reason?
So, I figure, I will embarrass myself for your entertainment and hopefully for both of our benefits. Being cute on a budget is the whole cornerstone of Persnickety's, so what do you think? I think: let's do it.

Living/dining room wishlist:
1. Area rug, 8x10 qty 2. 1 for dining, 1 for living room.
2. Window treatments for bay window of design doom and sliding glass door of dog muck.
3. Furniture piece to replace scary makeshift halfass painted media storage unit. Must be awesome. Bookcase? Hutch?
4. Very narrow depth sofa table.
5. Slipcover for dog couch. Preferably one that does not suck and won't rip every other day.
6. Chairs for dining room table*.
7. *Refinish the dining room tabletop I ruined by painting on it without a dropcloth like a jackass.
8. Some sort of better photo display and/or photo wall. Walls! What am I going to put on the WALLS???
9. Chaise lounge to replace recliner (gasp). GASP. I have a recliner. I have a bad back. Shoot me.
10. Coffee table?  Ottoman? Something in the middle of the room?
11. Do all of this for less than 100.00. Ok, no. Not really. What...900.00? Idk.

List of Challenges:
1. Grey walls, white trim, dark wood floors...with a brown couch that can't be moved. Because see #2.
2. Tv mounted on wall above fireplace, and naturally everything has to be pointed toward the television. Including brown couch.
3. 3 dogs.
4. Rented home.
5. No money.
6. No entryway.
7. Weirdly shaped 80's house.

Let's see what we can do with this, shall we?

Follow along and I will show you the embarrassing before, the sure to be ridiculous during, and you can help me pick my items for what is hopefully going to be a truly awesome after.

Before pics will be coming soon. I may have to drink a lot of something prior to posting those. Because, I can feel your judgement already. It's ok. Don't blame ya but go easy on me!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Deep (ish) thoughts.

the most important or essential part of something; the real or essential meaning.
synonyms:meaningfulness,significance, importance, import,validity, foundation.

I am having a deep thought. I think. Or a random rambling. Maybe.
Hear me out?


That word has been rattling around in my head for a while. Does that ever happen to you?
A word just gets stuck in there and it means...something. But what? Sometimes you don't know until...well, until you do.

Substance is what I seek. Living a substantial life. Not monetary substance, or material substance. I am a substance seeking missile.
Always have been.

The cool thing about having substance is you don't have to be an angel to have substance, you don't have to go to church, you don't have to believe THIS or THAT.
You don't have to DO anything but live your life unapologetically and genuinely. Honestly and kindly. Even snarkily, hell, snarky can be substantial too. But judging others, creating negativity, and worrying more than you should, those are substance suckers.

I have spent the majority of my life worrying. Have you? Now, at nearly forty years old, the substance that was inside always shooting for something better, truer, more substantial...has happened.

I can't imagine for one second living without the shop and all of the amazing substantial people that have come along with it. And now that the lifelong dream of matching what was always inside to a tangible outside has come biggest worry is that something bad will happen.

That's my truth.

Unfounded worry, but that waiting for the other shoe to drop is a hard habit to break.

Bad things happen to all of us, no matter what form they may take. Trips to the doctor, a phone call in the middle of the night, even a refrigerator that stops working when you have no money to fix it. (Did you know you can live sans refrigeration for six months? Real talk. It happened to me...when I had a "real job").

What I am learning, and really, what the shop was built on, is that a whole pile of bad stuff can turn into something good. The same wake up calls can turn your life into something better when you realize that: living through crappy stuff? And making life better after? That's what substance is. Embracing your struggles, being proud of what you have endured. And accomplished in spite of all. Where there once was bad stuff, there is now substance. Understanding. Because to really live, to really SEE others, you had to go through it.

I know, thanks for the late breaking news. None of this is mind blowing. You already know all of this. But I figured out my rattling around in my head word.

And maybe that worry changes nothing, but substance can change everything.

And that feels pretty dang good.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Confessions of a Shopkeeper: 20 Things You May Not Know About Owning a Shop.

If you are like a whole bunch of people I see on the regular, you want to open a shop. 

An antiques and decor store kinda like ours.

IT WILL BE SO FUN, they say.
SO WHAT, YOU JUST SLAP SOME PAINT ON OLD STUFF? (my favorite), they say.

(photo source:


Now, don't misunderstand me. I am all about supporting and collaborating with pretty much everyone all the time. 
I believe you can TOTALLY DO ANYTHING! 
Get it! 
But go into it with your eyes wide open. 
Over the last few years of doing this whole thing, I have learned a lot. 
I have so. much. more. to. learn.
In the meantime, I made this list of things I have experienced that you may not know about owning a shop. 
Your experience may vary.
Or, if you are a shopkeeper too, feel free to add to it.
It's a little bit tongue-in-cheek.
Take it with a grain of salt and a bottle glass of wine.

20 Things You May Not Know About Owning A Shop 

1. You will never have money. At least, not for, well...I don't know when you get the money.
Look at it this way: if you sell 1000.00 worth of product, you will take home about 6.00 of that. (approximately)
Let's do the math:
You spent at least 500.00 for that stuff to start with. Probably more.
That leaves you with 500.00.
You will then need to take that 500.00 and spend it on stuff to make the next 1000.00.

2. See above. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

3. Your "free time" will be spent scouring Craigslist for the one remaining item that doesn't
A: cost more than the stuff that's in your shop.
B: involve a drive so lengthy that you need to schedule in a bathroom break, a traffic report, and at least one Slurpee.

4. Your "free time" will also be spent ordering, procuring, driving, accounting, making things pretty, painting, restocking, paying bills, posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogging, photographing, pretending you know how to build websites, answering emails, answering the phone, quoting custom work, doing the custom work, delivering, picking up, putting on painting classes, and moving heavy things from one spot to another to another.

5. If you are somehow doing all of those things and are not physically in your shop for all of the hours of the 7 days a week that you are open, you will hear (say it with me) "You're never here anymore!". Or if you have set up your operating hours so that you are closed in order to do those things, you will hear (sing it loud) "You're always closed!".

6. Unless you are some sort of robot/trust fund baby, you mind will never stop thinking about work/money. You will have to dig deep to find your awesome sometimes. While you are in there, will you look for the balance?

7. People will promise you the world and let you down. It happens, things happen. You will live, you will learn. And you will move on. The best of intentions can and will turn out to be just that, so refer to #8.

8. Get everything in writing! Get it signed. Make copies. Refer the people that signed said documents to the said documents frequently.

9. Instead of chewing your tongue bloody, learn to be a good, firm communicator. This is something I struggle with. Sometimes people will not like what you say or the way you say it, but you have to be honest.

10. Somehow, at some point, your very being will piss someone off and out of nowhere someone will be mean to you. You will turn yourself upside down worrying about it. It will happen even if you stand on your head, bend over backwards, are grateful and kind every day, go to church, volunteer your time, it doesn't matter. It just will happen. Yes, it totally sucks. Sorry dude. 

11. Every now and then your blessings will feel like burdens. You won't want to feel that way, but you will. The late nights will take their toll. Get some sleep. Get out of town. Listen to gangsta rap. Whatever. Get yourself right.

12. There will be some sort of lame political hierarchy in your field of work, your town, your street, your strip mall. Bleh. Who cares. Do you and do your best to lift up the businesses around you.

13. While you are building your business, you will be stressed out a LOT. When you are most stressed, you will lash out at those you love and appreciate the most. Over two years in, our business is still in the baby stages of being built. Ask Mr. P or Mama P, it is still DEFINITELY a thing that happens. *sorry, guys*

14. It is hard to live in the moment as a retailer. Thinking of Christmas in June is like 3 months later than other retailers do...ugh. I get NUTS when I hear Christmas music one minute before the day after Thanksgiving. Mr. P loves to randomly turn Pandora to Bing Crosby Christmas radio every now and then just to see my reaction.

15. Get used to this: being a hero or a zero. One day you will sell, like, everything and it will be awesome and you will be like WHOOO, and then you instantly will be like HOLY CRAP I SOMEHOW HAVE TO FIND STUFF AND PAINT IT ALL AND IT ALL HAS TO BE DONE AND LOADED IN THE SHOP IN SIX HOURS. So you will scramble and scrape and then the next day, not one person will walk in and you will be like OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO DIE. I am super not used to this, still, and probably never will be.

16. Sometimes you will feel like you're on an island made of work. You will have very little social life. Unfortunately, you will lose some friends because of it. Reach out to the others that do the same work as you for commiseration, sharing of small victories. Hold tight to your family and be crazy grateful for them and the folks that stick around while you're building your very, very, tiny empire.

17. Taxes? SUUUUUUUUUCK. The number one driving force behind this business has always been building something that will take care of our parents. In a close second? Being able to hire a bookkeeper and accountant. Preferably a non-judgy one.

18. You will be shocked by the kindness of people. Totally blessed in ways you never knew to be possible, by people that you could never even dream of: your customers. That's not even the right word for the awesome beings that are solely responsible for making your dreams come true. (PS, #shoplocal because we really REALLY love you and appreciate you!)

19. It will be hard not to compare yourself with those around you that are bigger, more stocked, more experienced. As a tiny shop sandwiched between two awesome, larger, more established shops, I have admittedly had beat-myself-up moments about not being where they are. But I have to remember they probably started where I am. I still get pangs of inadequacy, especially when I see their beautiful displays, but then I think about the fact that they have employees. FANCY! 

20. Even though you will never truly relax ever again may have a really hard time relaxing, you will feel more gratitude and love in your heart than you ever thought you could. You will feel like part of a community. You will feel proud of yourself, and if you're like me, that is a new kind of feeling. It's amazing and surprising, still. And that makes it all worth it. That feeling runs in the background always, kind of like your shopkeeper soundtrack. Which, if it were an actual soundtrack with actual songs, would probably be sung by Kenny Loggins. 

You will hear it, however faintly, even on those zero days. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

When Reviews Attack: Beating Meanies

I have been weighing the idea of writing about this for some time, and while it is kind of scary to open the gates of what could be a flood tide of mean commentary, here goes.

In typical insomniac fashion, I was Googling along at about 3am when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a review that made my stomach turn and my sphincter clench. (Sorry, I said "sphincter".)
We have been lucky or fortunate or maybe worked hard, I guess, to be on the receiving end of positive reviews and while I know it's impossible to please everyone all the time, this is the first I have ever actually seen that was, uh, bad. Certainly, no one wants to get a bad review about the small business that they work tirelessly to keep afloat. And surely, as the review is not visible to the public at this point, I would be stupid to bring it up.
It's a helpless feeling, reading a bad review. It was scathing. 
Here's the rub: it was not about the shop. Which is good. 
It was a personal attack directed at, written for and AND THAT MEANS I HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT. Well, write about it.
According to this anonymous individual that specifically set up an account in order to trash someone in her very first review, welcome to:


Key points:
1. I suck because I am condescending. Pretty much the most condescending person she has ever encountered. Not only does she think so but everyone shopping in the store as well as the merchants on Main Street thinks so too. She checked.

2. I am a bitch. A "persnickety bitch" to be exact. I am not typing that word as "b*tch" for a specific reason, which you will later see.

3. Also, even though her daughter bought items at the shop on her visit there, she would not because I am awful.

That was the gist of the page long review. The gristly gist.

I thought about this for a long time. It's frustrating. You are powerless when you are attacked personally while under the umbrella of your business.  The struggle between what you, your very self, would say or do personally and what you can and should do as a business person is pretty difficult to deal with.

It's pretty safe to say, if personally attacked, I suffer no fools gladly. That can be read in a variety of ways and they are probably all some version of correct.  In business, when you are wrong in a situation, you must make it right. There was no situation to make right in this case. Just kind of a plain, straight, loathing of me as a person. In business, when you are hurt you cannot attack. Your brain works overtime to calm the hackles the heck down and you are left with nothing but your thoughts. 

Could she have seen my typical jokey manner as condescending? Sure. Is it possible that I was condescending? Sure. Anything is possible, and I am 100% human. Do my fellow Main Street merchants think so too? Sure.  I will make sure to continue to collect their mail and try to help lift them up via daily talks and texts and shared Facebook posts all the same. Nothing changes.

Could I be a bitch? Sure. Here is the thing about that. When you make a choice to call someone outside of their name, when a woman with a daughter calls a daughter that has a mother "bitch" as easy as typing some keys while under a cloak of anonymity, well to me that is about as callow a move as a woman can make. When I read that line, I thought of what my sweet and saint-like Mama P would have said. How heartbroken and angry she would be. And I also remembered that what Sally says about Susie (and how she chooses to say it) says more about Sally than it does about Susie. 

I am not even going there with the third part, because, well, that's ok. 

So, while I am not able to change this person's opinion of me I am able to tell you these steps to get over a personal attack review:

1. Punch many things. Nope, nope. Ok. Let's try again.
1b. Chew the gristle and digest it. Perception is reality so refer to 2.
2. Make it make you better, kinder.
3. Utilize it to learn from your shortcomings, and the person writing the review's shortcomings as well. 
3. Toughen up, buttercup. Don't sink.
4. Internally thank and think on the person that wrote it. You read that right. 
In the words of the great Beyonce:
I'm wishin' you the best
Pray that you are blessed
Bring much success, no stress, and lots of happiness
(I'm better than that)
5. Realize that opinions are just that, that your value does not need to be shouted from any rooftops to be real and that it does not diminish in the shadow of someone throwing shade.

The bad news is: you can't beat a meanie. And don't join 'em, because life is tooooooo short.
You just can't let 'em beat you. 

Now let's dance around to Beyonce and just get back to work.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Resolution Solution.

Resolutions stress me out.

It is a new year and as is customary, I have been mentally resolutioning. Problem solving.
Making promises to myself that in the past I have stopped keeping after approximately 16 minutes.

So this year, I am not going to click subscribe to all that mess.
I have plenty to improve upon and I will make small manageable changes in order to see some of those little things through.

It feels pretty phenomenal to just not feel monumentally pressured by what we SHOULD be...and embrace what we ARE.

You are pretty freaking amazing. If you choose to improve upon your awesomeness, go and get you some of whatever it is you need.

But you are rad just the way you are.

Enjoy your life and know that you freaking rule.

Happy New Year to THAT!

A week late, because that's how I roll.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Losing Consciousness, Gaining Perspective. A personal post.

It's more than possible, more's probable.
At some point, as any kind of business owner or overachiever-y, go-getter-y sort of person...
at some point you will have a wake up call.
It will come at the most ridiculous time, you will hate the crap out of it. And if you are very, very, lucky it may not kill you.

I realized just this very minute that aside from a blog post I wrote for a paint company, I have been silent here on the blog. This is not an indicator of how many words, stories, and anecdotes that are running on a loop in my brain as that loop is constant.

But since June, the last time I posted here, this little shop of mine has been motoring full speed ahead. I won't bore you with the daily details or constant stress of what it means to run this business the way it is run. 
If you are running a physical shop currently, you already know.
Everyone is counting on you.
Your amazing customers, your fantastic designers, employees, family.
Every email must be answered NOW.
Every custom job must be completed YESTERDAY.
The store must be full, so you must find, and buy, and fix, and create.
You must sell enough to live.
Your shop is your sole financial support.
Events must be planned and executed.
Money must be spent that you don't have to spend because you don't believe in credit cards.
You have to make miracles happen and you have to do it with a smile.

And there are unending rewards to this 24 hour a day work. 
Laughs, friendship, being able to pay basic bills, giving back, living a passion. Even winning an award.

Then suddenly, without warning and like Ralphie as an adult narrates in A Christmas Story:
Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at it's zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.

Oh it was not unthinkable really. Or even a disaster.
It was this:
Monday we were on television, winning Best of Western Washington...over the moon.
Friday I was in the emergency room...FML.
I had been having dizzy spells, falling over, dim vision, confusion...and I thought my bum neck was giving me fits, so I went to see a trusted family friend that happens to be a Chiro. He says to call my doctor. My doctor tells me to not bother coming in but to call an ambulance immediately and go straight to the ER.
Now. I know my bad neck is causing my issues. But there is a little bit of worry in my head now. And even more so, I am irritated at the hiccup in my super overly filled day.
 SO instead of calling the ambulance, I called my husband to pick me up where I was...a decidedly cheaper and less ridiculous option. 
Moments later I found myself with an IV in one arm while making lists for the next day's holiday open house on my cell phone with my other hand, going over staffing and organizing the logistics with my mom and my husband who were in the room with me.
What? There's sh*t to do! (This is me not "getting" it)

The tests start and they wheel me in to have my MRI. In the claustrophobic nightmare that is the MRI machine, during the clanking, bonking, and visions of how I was going to do six hours of missed work in the morning...I nodded off. 
First time I rested in over a year.
Then I woke up, was sat up slowly by the large MRI tester dude, and promptly passed right out. Cold.
Then the CT scan. Super short, easy peasy test.
A nurse on either side of me, they sat me up.
The room spun and I passed out. Again.
And then...panic. I cried my eyes out. Not because I was embarrassed, well maybe a little. 
I was not in control.
And that was not ok.
I started to think very bad thoughts.

Regardless, I was sprung from the hospital a few hours later with some pills, some referrals, thankful of course...yet no less worried about the event in the morning and the hours I missed by being a jagaloon stuck in the ER.

 The event was awesome, thanks to the help of my buddy Denniel, who also stopped everything to work while we were all having our little surprise hospital interlude. I owe her a lot. I owe a lot of people a lot. Thank you to Denniel, my Mama, the husband, and everyone that answered my frantic call for help to keep the shop open while we were gone.

I am telling you all of this because gaining perspective could have come at a much higher price, and I am sort of just now "getting" it.
Self care is last on my list, and I am sure I am not the only one of us who can say that.
Your brain never stops but your body makes the determination that stopping is all that can be done.
I have control issues.
Sound familiar?

Creating boundaries between work and self is hard when your work is your whole self. 
My drive comes from wanting to create something that makes people happy, and more so to support my family. More than ANYTHING I want to be able to take care of our folks when they get old. Help the designers and contributors to the shop support their families. That's why I can't stop. That's why I have to control and be IN IT every single second of the day. 
Because it's too important. Too important to lose. But that means I gotta get right.
I want to enjoy every blessed minute of it. But I need to choose those minutes more wisely.
So, I am making myself accountable by writing down some things I know I must work on and will share them with you. Maybe there are things here you may find helpful, or ridiculous.
Either way.

1. Don't stop working hard. But do it during set work hours, whatever you decide those hours are.
2. DO NOT WORK during one full day a week.
3. Create rules for health, and keep them. Mental health included.
4. Exercise. (PS: I NEED A PERSONAL TRAINER. That will work for, um, painted furniture? )
5. Ask others to be respectful of your choices and your time.
6. SAY NO. Sometimes. And kindly.
7. Communicate your needs and trust those who are there to work to do the work.
8. Fulfill your dreams and goals in a way that won't kill you.
9. Create genius things even if you are the only one that loves them for no other reason than the joy you get from seeing them come to life.
10. Never stop thanking God and those you love.
11. Love the living crap out of everyone of all kinds of kinds.
12. Once in a while just blow your own dang mind.
12. And just calm the F down, already.

Thank you for being awesome and reading this. Thank you to the moon for your friendship and support of not only the shop, but all of us in it. Without you, there is absolutely no us. Thank you.