Doing the morning scroll…not stroll, you read it right – scroll, I came across a memory from four years ago. You gotta love Facebook for reminding you of every painful occurrence from years past. Then again, I’m the one who posted it, so…
Anyway, four years ago today, I got the call at 10 a.m. from my landlord. He was calling to inform me, that I had exactly 24 hours to vacate my storefront, as he’d found someone else to rent the space.
See, months prior he had increased my rent to a crazy, unaffordable amount. I called to tell him I simply couldn’t afford it, and perhaps he could find someone else to take the space, while I looked for another location. When I didn’t hear back from him, I continued to scrape up the money and continued to pay the rent on time, as usual.
So when I got the call on September 30th, and he announced that he’d found someone to take the space, I was thrilled! I remember thanking him, and feeling a huge sense of relief that I would no longer have to struggle each month to pay the rent.
And then he said, “I want everything out by tomorrow. October 1st. That’s when he’s moving in.” And he continued to tell me that if I didn’t have everything out, he would lock the doors and keep all remaining items – 1200 s.f. of inventory, furniture, and fixtures.
I wish I could say I slammed the phone down in anger, but cell phones just don’t have that kind of drama.
I remember crying. I remember wanting to call my folks, but they were on a flight to Florida. My husband…he was in full-day meeting out of town. Oh sure, I left a teary, unintelligible voicemail, but there was literally nothing he could do to help me.
An hour later, after I shook off the tears and gathered myself together, I drove to my store, turned the key, and walked to the center of the store. I sat down. I looked around, and started to cry. I feel like I cried for a very long time. And then the door opened, and I saw my mother-in-law. She had boxes. She had bags. My husband had called her from his meeting and told her the news. Now, here she was. Armed and ready to help. You gotta love Janet!
We packed for hours. And as it turned dark, the door opened again. It was my husband and his best friend. They took the racks. They took the furniture. They unscrewed my signage over the entranceway, and took that.
It was a very sad Grinch-like experience, because when all was said and done, by 8:59 p.m. there wasn’t so much as a hanger left in that store.
Of course, I had nowhere to take any of it, as I couldn’t find a rental unit on such short notice, so where did I go? To my folks! They wouldn’t be home for weeks!
Next thing I know, my brother shows up, and he’s rolled up his sleeves to help. We stuffed everything, and I mean everything, into my folks garage. We had mannequins guarding the cars. We had furniture and fixtures lining the walls.
The inventory was set up and hung on racks in my folks living room. It was quite a scene.
By 10 p.m. it was done. I was out of the space. I was out of my mind tired. I was incredibly sad and felt like a loser. A failure. I lost my store. I lost my livelihood.
I couldn’t even put up a note, letting my customers know what happened, so they thought I’d closed. Folded. Went under.
And the man who took over my space, did not indeed move in on October 1st, or 2nd..or 7th. No…he moved in on the 15th. So yah, that was an added kick in the teeth.
For weeks I struggled with sheer sadness and a feeling of “what now?” I contemplated going back to my old corporate experience, but that would mean being up and out by 6 a.m. and not returning until 6 p.m. What about my kids? What about being there after school to talk about their day, give them an afternoon snack, and help with homework? What about dinners, and prepping lunches and backpacks? When would I have time to see them?
No, going back to corporate wasn’t for me.
So I decided to keep my store going somehow. I signed up for craft & holiday fairs. I held events in my home. I packed scarves and sweaters, jewelry and accessories and brought them to every Elks and Eagles hall in town.
It took six months. Six months of lugging my 6-foot table, and luggage filled with inventory. Six months of praying. Six months of saving. But then it happened.
I got a call from another local business owner. She told me the storefront next to her was up for rent. Within an hour, I was standing inside the space. And a few hours after that, I signed the lease.
It was an obstacle. No…a stepping stone. Those six months of struggle reinforced my desire to live my dream. It solidified my desire to be there for my kids. It taught me that anything worth having is worth fighting for.
I almost gave up, gave in and settled. I almost did.
Even now when I hit a snag in my business, when I buy this instead of that, when sales drop from time to time, or Kohl’s is having a 70% off sale, and I simply can’t compete – I question myself. I question my decision. I wonder if I should give it all up to make a weekly paycheck, with paid vacation, benefits and sick time.
And then I see my kids get off the bus, and I’m there. I get to hear all about their day, just after it happened, so I can offer advice, or praise, or just listen.
I get to spend time with my folks, making special trips over with coffee & donuts, just because.
I can prep my husband’s favorite meal. I have time for hot coffee after the kids go off to school.
Looking back, I’ve realized that losing that space was a defining moment in my life. It showed me just how badly I wanted the life that I’d created.
A door closed…and it sucked.
But now, I’m nestled into my forever home; in a space that has blessed me with new customers and friends, new ideas and a new vision.
I can’t wait to scroll through tomorrow’s memories…I think that’s the anniversary of my guinea pig’s death.
Thanks for the memories, Facebook.