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.