A few days ago, I stepped out of my store to grab some coffee, and as I often do, I took the opportunity to visit with some of my neighborhood retailers to connect, see how things are going for them, and check in with friends.
Stepping out on her own
The manager of a popular women’s boutique has had dreams of her own since the shop opened a couple of years ago. Business is going alright, but the conversation we had didn’t end up being about the boutique she’s managing, but about her own dreams. She’s working hard, and hopes to soon open her own vegan lifestyle shop. She hopes to carry everything from clothing, beauty products and packaged food options. She has already contacted a couple of local landlords and looked at different options for available spaces. She’s also working with a popular local bakery to bring like-minded vegans together to build an early network of customers, and is working on an online fundraising campaign. She hopes her shop will become a hub in the local community, and can draw customers and fans from the entire region, which currently doesn’t have an exclusive vegan-lifestyle store.
It ain’t easy being green
One of my best friends opened an eco-friendly flooring, countertop, and interiors shop just a couple of month before I opened my retail store over 4 years ago. We often grabbed a beer together, to share stories and worries and encourage each other.
While I made the transition to become a media company, he started going back to working sales for a local wood supplier, while continuing to keep his shop open and his employees paid. Unfortunately, last week he announced that he would close the shop and cut his losses while he still has a little money in the bank. It’s heartbreaking to see, but he’s good spirited. He saw it coming, and planned out the closing accordingly, avoiding surprises for anyone.
Sometimes you just have to change everything
Another local boutique just went through a fascinating transformation, because the owner felt a change was needed in order to stay relevant. What was previously a funky costumes and vintage clothing store now offers affordable woman’s clothing, simple basics; fun, everyday merchandise. Most of the interior stayed the same, but the name changed, and with it the product. The owner, while she loved her shop the way it was, wasn’t afraid to change everything in order to survive. A lesson we could all learn from.
Keep on, keepin’ on…
Three stories, three different journeys. Everyone is on the move, times are changing, but people are upbeat. No need for a happy ending, we’re working on happy trails. Some days there are tears and stress, but the story of the small business owner is that of a versatile, adaptive, creative entrepreneur. Full of spirit, ideas, and can-do attitude. We might get punched every now and then. But we know what fights to pick, how to get back up, and we define success in our own way, defining our own journey, our destiny in our hands. We go to work early and leave late to get the job done so we can look at ourselves in the mirror and say to ourselves: this is the life worth living.
With those words I wish every one of you out there the most successful holiday season yet. A prosperous and joyous time. A time of busyness that turns the numbers from red to black. Also, a time for rest, a time with family, laughter, and reflection. A time to wrap up the old year, and look ahead to the new year with excitement.