I’m still here!
It’s been a crazy 6 months; 3 since we talked last. But I’m still here.
I had days when I wasn’t so sure, but I was told by many merchants that I just had to make it through the summer. Summer is tough, people are on vacation, September will be better. Well, I made it to September. And then someone else told me September is worse than the summer. They turned out to be right. Crap.
But I am still here.
After a brutal summer, and tumultuous fall, I found out election years are tough on retail, and this year was bound to be the toughest of all time. Fuck. Ok then…we’ll make it to November! But November was also the end of the outdoor market season and my “safety income” I generate on Sundays. So I was simultaneously desperate and terrified for October to be over. And then the election. Fuckity fuckity fuck. But I was still open.
There’s a comfort and paranoia that comes with never knowing what to expect day to day. I don’t have to worry about “last years’ numbers” because I don’t have any! But are my good days actually good? Or just better than nothing? Moving from day to day with no tools to guide me is like being in a wilderness without weapons or a map. Or pants.
With hopes high for holiday, I turned my little store into a winter wonderland (or a STATIONERY wonderland to be exact…) and kept my fingers crossed. Black Friday approached and with no clue if I’d be busy, I informed my husband he’d be helping me all weekend (Friday, Saturday, and my first open Sunday!) We opened Black Friday and….crickets. Some people came, but on the whole, it was really disappointing. Even worse was having my husband there for no reason. It’s one thing to come home and tell him it was a horrible day, quite another to have him witness it in real time. It was embarrassing.
Completely deflated (Well, I was. He can be annoyingly optimistic…), we opened for Small Business Saturday, an ever-tightening noose of dread and panic around my neck. From our 9 AM open time, until we closed the door at 5 PM, we were flooded, I mean CRAZY with people all day long. I think there was maybe 1 hour where I had no one in here. By the end of Sunday, which was also excellent despite never being open on Sundays and only open 4 hours, my displays were decimated, my stock of candles reduced to almost nothing, and I had gaps on almost every card shelf. Relief coursed through me.
As for other days, people are coming out on Thursdays to support the artists I invited in for my weekly trunk shows, which has been so amazing because I would hate for them to have come here just to sit in my store and eat peppermint Joe-Joes. I mean, they’re so friggin’ good but no one wants to come shop a bunch of girls sitting around eating their boredom.
I understand there are simply some things you just can’t get at a small store, no matter how much you want to (No, I really don’t have Hatchimals…) Black Friday will always have its anchor firmly planted in commerce’s ocean floor, rough weather be damned, it will never founder. But I am thankful to have put down roots in a town that really does value small business and is clamoring for more options. If Natick wanted me to know I am welcome, wanted, even needed, well, I got that message loud and clear. Even if I don’t have what you need, you tried me first, and I am thankful.
And I am still here!
Thank you to everyone who has come in and picked up cards and gifts for your friends, family, book club, teachers, and coworkers. Your business means more than I can say. I am still learning and trying to figure this all out but your support means I keep opening the door, keep finding great cards to give to the people you love who are celebrating, mourning, or too far away for you to go out for pancakes. We feel the love over here and it’s mutual.
See you on our 1 year birthday!