At the end of last year, just before Christmas, I was again faced with losing a job – the bookkeeping work I was doing mostly from home. However, I had three more bookkeeping jobs lined up as possibilities. Just after Christmas, I found out two of those had fallen apart. Not only was I losing that client, but another client I had started working for in the summer wasn’t turning out to give me as many hours as I’d hoped. Losing work aside, I simply wasn’t making enough money for us to get by.
The farm and the homemade products I make were helping, but it still wasn’t enough. I was facing the fact that I would probably have to find a part or full-time job outside of the home. There are just not enough small businesses in our area to provide work from home opportunities. The one prospect I had left was at least close to home, but I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out yet.
I dreaded starting job-hunting again, and I just don’t enjoy bookkeeping like I used to either. I found it’s a job I only enjoy in moderation, but it’s really the best skill I have. Frankly, I started sinking into a deep hole of depression. I was SO tired of things being once again in flux with my work situation, two and a half years now since I lost my regular job.
I needed to brainstorm ideas to make more money from the farm or whatever. Farming is tough, and my garden last year didn’t succeed like I’d hoped it would. It was challenging for me to find the right places to sell my products. Our farm is simply too far off the beaten path to be able to get enough traffic to it. We have regular egg customers, but most don’t buy other things like plants or veggies.
Selling online has helped but there is a lot of competition out there and the price for shipping products is crazy.
I had tried opening a booth at a local consignment store where I could sell a variety of my homemade products, along with used pet supplies and some home décor. The pet supplies were the only thing that sold well, but it still wasn’t enough to cover the monthly rent I had to pay for the booth for most of the five months I was there.
I saw other booths empty out around me and realized other people had the same issues. I had hoped my pet supplies would draw people in, and to an extent they did, but with three floors of vendor booths and consignments there was a lot to see at the store. I felt that I was lost in a sea of so much stuff, but well, it had been worth a try, and I had fun doing it.
Then it inspired me. I started to think that maybe a store that was more geared towards homemade products instead of more just flea-market-vintage-type stuff would be better. However, there’s nothing like that in our area. If you want homemade products and crafts, you must wait for a local crafts fair or for the farmer’s markets to open. I also wanted something closer to home, like in our own town or the next town over where I grew up. I started to think “why can’t I start a store like that?”. I learned a lot about retail at my former job, before I cut my hours to only doing bookkeeping there.
For many years off and on I’ve had the idea of owning my own shop: possibly a gift shop, pet supplies shop, or general store. My hubby and I at one time considered buying that store we worked at. But the hours we’d have to put in to run a general store along with the huge mortgage we’d have to take out put us off.
My idea now was that there would be far less overhead needed if I could lease space and have a store where booth rentals would pay my rent. I’d also provide a space where people like me who wanted a year-round place to sell their products without having to set up and tear down all in one day for special events could go. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got, and that’s what lifted me out of the depression I was in.
I ran the idea past friends, family, and local Facebook groups to see if there would be interest, and it seemed there was.
Of course, one of my biggest concerns was how me being gone more would affect Luke and the farm birds. I’m able to set up hours that should hopefully only leave Luke home alone for about 4 hours/day, 4 days/week. He does fine as long as I give him his Quizl* (amazon affiliate link) full of treats before I go out the door. The Dadz starts work quite early and gets home early afternoon. I’ll open the shop mid-morning, and I hope to have some help there so that I still have time for the farm. The birds will also be given an upgrade to their outdoor run (fenced-in area) so they can safely be outside until Dad gets home to let them free range.
I feel better about leaving them to go do something I will enjoy doing, rather than getting a job that would be difficult to leave them for!
One of the most fun parts of this process was coming up with a name for the store. My sisters and girlfriends brainstormed with me, and we went through a lot of different ideas. In the end, just using google for different ideas landed me on the one that turned out to be perfect.
The girls had started jokingly calling me “farm girl” a while ago, and it had stuck – I loved it! Having the farm was my other dream. Since we bought our property which consists of an old farmhouse, we’ve had fun “finding” different things around our property. One of my favorites was the wagon wheel that my hubby found that now leans against our barn. I am also always finding old bottles and stuff around in the woods which I’ve been collecting.
The name was perfect, I knew what I wanted on my logo and I had it designed.
By the way, I highly recommend Inkblot GDS on Etsy for logo design. Her price was great, and she was easy to work with.
I found a space to lease that I loved on the Main Street of the town I grew up in, at a four-way intersection with a lot of traffic. It’s small and intimate, but spacious enough for many booths to rent and for consignments as well. The store my hubby works at is right across the street! We negotiated, I put down a deposit, and signed the lease.
Then what happened? COVID-19! Through the whole process, I kept pretty quiet about my plans because I didn’t want to jinx things! Just when I was getting ready to have my contractor in to build our display booths, and then start signing up our vendors, our governor closed all non-essential businesses and we were ordered to stay home. Ugh. Many of my potential vendors were non-responsive to contact, dealing with their own issues caused by this pandemic.
However, that has only slowed me down. We were still able to get the booths built since my contractor was working alone (other than a little help from hubby and I). I was able to get my signs ordered. We’ll miss the original target opening date, but I’m hoping to still be open by summer. That remains to be seen, but I’m trying to stay optimistic and not worry too much. Others are in far worse situations than I am.
I’m impatient, but the best things are worth the wait, right? I’m simply thankful to have come up with a plan that I hope will succeed and finally make me happy.
If you are so inclined, we’d love it if you could follow our shop page on Facebook (click here)…..and keep your fingers crossed that we can get this up and running soon!
PS….No worries for those that do buy from my online shop, it will remain open! And I have every intention of keeping this blog going as well!
Thank you to our friends at Brian’s Home for hosting the Thankful Thursday blog hop. Please visit them and other blogs through the links below.