We opened in the middle of a pandemic, and we’re still going!
Over a year ago, three years after losing my job of over 20 years, I was still struggling with “what to do with my life”. Pushing 60 years old, too young to retire, and losing yet another part-time job with no new job prospects, I was at a crossroads. I needed to fight through my depression and frustration and come up with a plan. Ironically, work from home jobs (my preference) were hard to come by back then! Somehow things ended up working out for the best though.
I decided to fulfill a life-long dream and open my own shop. I’ve told many this story, but literally days after signing the lease for my Main Street location in the town I grew up in, the governor shut the state down due to the pandemic. I had to re-think and re-group quickly! Now what?
I decided to plunge forward with my plans and shortly after restrictions were lifted, we were ready to open. Thanks to the support of local artisans, crafters, and vintage collectors, who rent my booth space or bring in their goods to sell on consignment; one year later we are still here!
I can’t lie, it hasn’t been an easy year, sometimes it’s a roller coaster ride, but we’ve been sticking it out. While we’re not where I want to be quite yet, I feel more confident that we will get there. A good Christmas season keeps me hopeful through this slow post-holiday season. With summer coming and people hopefully feeling safer to travel, I hope to have a better tourist season this year too.
My shop is an eclectic collection of handmade, homemade, and vintage (or “gently used”). I hoped the combination of goods would draw more people in, and I do think it’s working. While there are other shops like mine nearby (gift shops), I think I am unique in the combination of products we carry.
I try to stick as much as possible to locally made, handmade, or gently used. My focus is also on all-natural, organic, and eco-friendly products, made by individuals and small businesses. I have products from my own farm and from other farms at times, along with goods from across New England. I was excited and proud to add some inventory from three well established NH women-owned small businesses this year as well.
I did recently decide to add some dog toys from West Paw in Montana, because I sold the few used ones I had, and people seem to always be looking for tough dog toys. Since West Paw is a USA company, and their products are eco-friendly, I decided to branch out a bit. They have always been a favorite company of mine, with good values. One thing I always plan to be is thoughtful about what kind of products I carry.
It’s still a challenge to get enough people through the door, though I do have a good group of regular customers, and new local people come in daily. All new businesses take time to get established, and I believe the pandemic has just slowed that timeline down a bit. Almost every day someone new comes in and says it’s their first time here, and just about every week I get a local crafter in who wants to sell their products. My biggest challenge his been finding enough room for everything!
Renting out booth space has been working out well, and I still have a waiting list of people wanting to rent. I still have many of my original vendors, and when there’s been turnover, the empty booth has been immediately filled again.
I hope to be here until I’m ready to retire. It’s been a lot of hours this last year, but I don’t mind it. When I’m not at the shop, I’m often making products for the shop. I have a little bit of help now so that I can get away from time-to-time, and hopefully when things get busier, I can get a bit more time off. That’s the plan anyway! As I get ready to sign my lease for one more year, I am doing my best to stay confident of success, though not over-confident, since I don’t want to jinx it!
Of course my other “job”, and first love, is the farm. I’ve been enjoying getting outdoors whenever I can, and I thought I’d share the photo below of farm dog Luke helping me with planting some herbs! It’s difficult to see in the photo, but he is laying smack in the middle of my thyme bed! That’s long been a favorite place of his to lay – I shared a whole post about it three years ago “Bed Thyme for Farm Dog Luke”. I told my hubby that Luke is a smart dog! Not only is the thyme cool to lay on, but thyme repels insects so it’s a better place for him to lay than in the grass. 😊