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. 😊
you should be BURSTING with pride at all you have accomplished!!!! I am in awe!! I am confident now that restrictions are lifting you are going to have a good second half of the year! I wish I lived there, your shop is EXACTLY the type of shop that I LOVE to “haunt.” I am always on the lookout for places like yours because they always have the most unique and interesting items. I am also a big fan of WestPaw. Levi is HIGHLY destructive….and their toys are the ONLY ones he hasn’t been able to destroy! I am so happy for you and all you have accomplished! YOU GO GIRL!!
Thank you SO much, Caren, you are so sweet and encouraging! ♥ I tried to create a shop that is the type that I love to go to as well, and it’s been so much fun!
Tails Around the Ranch says
Your bravery and courage are being rewarded and with all the wonderful items you curate, it’s no wonder you’re still around. Continued success my friend.
Thank you so much, Monika! ♥
Your shop is one I would make sure to visit if I was around your area!
That coffee/tea pot/warmer sure reminds us of when times were much simpler:) I have an old teapot warmer that uses tea lights to keep the special glass teapot warm. But its not anything as elaborate as yours!
Oh, and congrats on the one year anniversary of your little boutique!
Thank you! Yes, that coffee/tea warmer definitely harkens back to better days! This one is so pretty, it’s hard for me not to bring it home for myself! 🙂
Wow. I admire you for sticking with it – even when things changed so drastically. My first thought on the trinket thing is a hurricane lamp – but then I noticed the kind-of pour spout on the top. Maybe a coffee warmer? You’d put the bunsen under the glass and you could keep your coffee warm?!
You are exactly right! It’s a tea or coffee warmer. Very good!
I don’t know if I’m crazy or stupid (a little of both?) to open a business in the middle of a pandemic….but here I am! 🙂
Marv, Jo Jo, Kozmo, Cinnamon & Barb says
What a great store! We are so happy you are doing well and I love that you are doing well – even with the pandemic! Way to go!
Thank you so much!
Brian Frum says
We are so proud of you and what you’ve done, your shop looks lovely and it’s got to be a treat browsing there. Keep going strong and tell Luke we sent a howdy!
Thank you! Luke sends a howdy right back! ♥
The Island Cats says
Paws up to making it through your first year…and a strange one it was. Your shop is so cute.
Thank you, Sue! I probably couldn’t have picked a worse time, but as they say “it is what it is” and at least I’ve made it this far! 🙂
Congratulations on 1 year! Your shop is so cute. I so wish you were closer to me.
I wish that too! ♥
Ellen J Pilch says
Congratulations on sticking it out for a very, very tough year! I am sure this year will be much better and you will reach your goals. XO
From your lips to God’s ear, as they say! 🙂 Thank you! ♥
I’m so proud of you. If I were near I’d come visit you. I’d make sure I could see your best helper too.
Have a fabulous day and week, Jan. Smooches to Luke. ♥
Thank you so much, Sandee. Wouldn’t Luke and I both enjoy that if it were possible! He sends lots of smooches right back. ♥
Can’t believe it is already a year! Congratulations on having the courage to go for it despite all the obstacles. If you love it, it will all work somehow and it isn’t really like work. We all hope this year is a better year with COVID stuff dying down.
Thank you! I have a good feeling that it will get better, and hopefully soon. You are right, the important thing is that I enjoy it, and I do. Even though there are slow days and I get bored, I never don’t want to come here.
it’s super great!!! I love the little bee… although phenny thinks they have a bad bee-hive ior LOL
Tell Phenny that some bees, like this one, are nice! 🙂
My Golden Life says
A whole year already?! Time flies, doesn’t it?! I love the photos! I wonder if that antique is some sort of tea or coffee maker? The pot at the top kind of makes me wonder. Oh, and in that one photo toward the bottom there’s a purple coffee mug that I recognized – I have the very same mug on my kitchen shelves!
Best wishes for continued success my sweet friend! Hope you can get some more time off to spend with Luke on the farm!
You were on the right track! It’s not a tea or coffee maker, but a warmer.
Thank you so much, Sue! At least missing Luke is the only downside to this job. ♥
My Golden Life says
Cool! How old is that warmer? I’m guessing over 100 years.
I’m sure missing Luke is a big downside; but hopefully you’ll be able to get the right help to allow you more time off. Give your sweet boy kisses, ear n belly rubs from me and puppy kisses from Ducky. 😘😘
As far as I can tell, it is probably only about 50 years old. It’s definitely mint condition though, and looks like new!
Luke sends lots of kisses back to you and Ducky, and a high paw to Bogie! ♥
My Golden Life says
Bogie sends a hi-five back to Luke! 💙🐾
Zoolatry (The Human One) says
Four paws up for all you’ve accomplished and good wishes going forward! It’s amazing to be able to follow the path of one’s dream.
Your shop is beautiful, how we wish we could visit … everything about it appears so welcoming.
Thank you so much! It’s nice to hear that it appears the way I would like it to – welcoming. ♥
Aww great story and I am sure this year will be the best yet.
Thank you, Jim!