Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Silent nights, busy days

I cannot believe that it is already Christmas Eve! I have been a bit quiet, but for a reason ...

We opened a shop!

I cannot believe it, I still have to pinch myself every now and then, but yea. A real brick and mortar shop. Let me give you a bit of back ground ...

A couple of weeks ago (roughly 5 or 6!) we were invited to a house party. At the party the host mentioned to me that he had a shop available in his business property, and would I be interested to have my own shop from which I could work, etc.? Truthfully, I pushed all thoughts about it into some nondescript file in my brain, as I thought the whole idea just not plausible. I mean - we are in the midst of a world wide economic recession, job losses everywhere, and people are down-sizing and no impulse spending is happening.

About a week later I got a phone call. "Please look at the shop. I get lots of phone calls daily about the shop, but I want you to have it." I cave in and drove to the city centre. Long Street is one of the busiest streets in our city. Bars, restaurants, backpackers and shops. Lots and lots of them in the aptly named street. On my way back to my studio I phoned a friend. Can I come and chat to her about an opportunity? I convinced her 50%. Promised to take her the next day to the shop so we could have a look-see. Am I mad, or is it a viable concept?

My concept: A shop that sells an eclectic mix of art and craft. Stuff not found elsewhere in the city. Stuff that we like.

But the place looked like a dump. Vertical potholes scattered the walls, stencilled graffiti littered everywhere, the roof a mix of dark blue with white streaks. The floor is covered with a hideous red and yellow patterned plastic.

After a few discussions with the landlord, we decided to renovate the shop ourselves. A 3rd partner joined the venture, and we set about the great clean-up. A handy-man painted the ceiling and repaired and painted the high walls for us, while us girls tackled the lower areas. 7 days later, too many pots of paint and a huge bag of filler we could finally remove the plastic that covered the terracotta tiled floor. I sighed in tiredness. More cleaning and scrubbing awaited us. While we renovated the shop, we slowly started to move furniture into it. The back of the shop would be my studio. Shelves and display units were painted a uniform white and everyone brought what he had from home. Finally we were able to install some lights, and suddenly we were ready to unpack our stock - a Hodge podge of art and craft work.

This is our 3rd week trading and the day before Christmas. With no budget, no loans from banks, Nada, we started slow. There is no money for marketing. We hoped that our location would bring feet into the shop. And it did. The week before we officially opened, frantically unpacking stock we had people begging to see the stuff. And we made sales!

Slowly sales increased every day. 'Window shoppers' came back a day or 2 later to purchase items that they saw, and I am slowly becoming less pessimistic about this folly. We made contact with our fellow shopkeepers in the street. The car guards knows us. The policing service that ensures safety in the street had meetings with us. Suddenly I am a Long Street regular. Even the 'Bergies' (homeless people) that frequent Long Street greets and chats to me as if I am an old timer.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Seriously???? I'm SOOOOO excited for you. I'm sure most of us dream of that kind of thing and you DID it! Your stuff is absolutely fabulous and people comment on my teapot and candlestick all the time (I have lots of visitors). Super, super thrilled for you. Huge congratulations!