Let me just say right off the bat, I’ve never been one to think things through. I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker. Throwing caution to the wind…that’s kinda my jam. If you are not this kind of person, which many are not, read this just for fun, k?
Five years ago, I drove through a part of town I’d grown up in. The local pizza joint, the ice cream & candy store – all on the same side of the street. Note to self: this might be a reason you were chunky growing up! So, when I drove through and saw the old ice cream shop for rent, I knew I had to have it.
I called my husband. He’s always the first person I call when I’m about to do something crazy. “I just found a great location for a storefront!” I exclaimed. Silence on the other end, followed by, “Oh, yah? You have a business I don’t know about?” A business. Yah. That. I guess one would need a store in order to have a storefront.
Did that stop me? No. I called the number listed, and made an appointment to see the space. When the landlord showed me around, I fell in love. The space had gleaming hardwood floors, track lighting and beautifully painted walls. There was an oversized ladies room, storage and kitchen area. I knew I had to have it.
“I’ll take it!” I said with an abundance of excitement.
“Great, what is your business?” The elderly gentleman asked.
“I don’t actually have one. But you tell me the rent and I’ll pay it every month.” The man looked at me, shook his head in disbelief. But I continued, “I have always wanted to own my own storefront. I grew up around here – spent many a day in this old ice cream store, and had pizza right next door. It would be a dream come true to have this space. I’m the kind of person who decides and works to get it done. I won’t let you down.”
I signed the lease on what would have been my grandfather’s 90th birthday. I did a little research, created a business plan, and went to the bank with said plan in hand, and blind optimism that I’d be given a bank loan. I was denied. You needed to be in business for at least 12 months with a history of sales. I had none of that.
I was now a mother of 3 small children, and wanted to have my own business, so I could be there for the kids. I wanted to get them on and off the bus. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, as my mom had been for my brother & myself. I wanted to contribute to the finances, so it wouldn’t all fall on my husband. Now what?
While sitting in the nurse’s office at my daughter’s school, I met a woman with whom I shared my dilemma. She was in the process of moving and had an abundance of furniture, glassware and art. She offered to consign them to me. And Simple Treasures Consignment was born.
Within six months of opening my storefront, I’d realized just how much I hated touching other people’s things. I didn’t like knick-knacks. I didn’t like lace table cloths and fine china. I didn’t like kids’ shoes. Worn shoes. But I was in a year lease and had six months left!
And once again, I conducted more research – looked around the area. The only clothing stores around were big box stores. There were no local businesses offering on-trend fashions. Hmmm. I had another idea.
I changed the name of my business to Simple Treasures Boutique, and left the consignment business behind. Offering new, on-trend fashions from New York and LA was far more exciting.
After three years in business, Simple Treasures Boutique earned the Reader’s Choice Awards for #1 Women’s Clothing Store, Regional Gold for Gift Store and Regional Silver for Jewelry & Accessories. I was jubilant. My customers were loyal, and supportive.
My customers got to know each other and would often show up on a Saturday just to socialize while shopping. And then it happened. My landlord heard that my business was doing well, and raised my rent. The problem was, I couldn’t afford it. On September 30th, 2015 he called me at 10 a.m. He had found someone to take over my lease, and gave me 24 hours to vacate. I couldn’t put up a sign to let my customers know what was going on. They thought I’d closed. I was devastated. I was heartbroken.
For six months I tried to stay relevant. I went to craft fairs, church bazaars and even hosted a few events at my home. I hustled. I posted pics on my Facebook page and offered weekly online events to sell my existing product.
Since then, after calling just about every realtor in the area, and looking at countless retail spaces, I found my forever-home-storefront. It was in rough shape when I first saw it. So, one morning I stopped by with the intent of painting just one wall; 6 hours later, the entire store was pink! Within two weeks, I had all my items removed from storage and I was back in business.
I didn’t give up. I believed in myself and my business. I knew that Simple Treasures Boutique was different than any retail store I’d ever been to. Strangers walk through my door, but leave as friends.
And in 2018, my small business was awarded the #1 Choice for Women’s Clothing by the Reader’s Choice Awards for the entire Region. When I saw that certificate, I teared up. After being on top, then losing it all, questioning myself and my abilities…to see that my customers didn’t forget me. They found me again, and brought friends. They shopped. They voted. I am grateful beyond measure.
Here’s my point – if you have a desire, a dream, a passion – don’t let your fear stop you. I’ll go one better, don’t let failure stop you. Anyone can cave. Anyone can throw their hands in the air and say “Well, I tried.” Don’t do it. I promise you, the feeling of pride and accomplishment will astound you.
Dream the dream. Face the fear. TAKE THE RISK.