It was finally time to do it. We had our grand opening yesterday! I don't think either of us EVER expected to have a brick and mortar store this soon after Kate moved to Beloit. Especially not one open before Christmas!
Admittedly, not all of our stock is here, even now. But, we had been unofficially open for a month and it was time to make the next step as business owners. I could have done without the ceremony, but we did pay for a chamber of commerce membership and people were asking.
We posted in the local ad circular, the Waconda Trader. Another step in feeling legitimate...
And then the local newspaper did an article on us. I did NOT expect to get above-the-fold front page placement! You can read it online here.
All our traffic came right at opening, and it was quite busy! I would estimate over 50 people came. During a pandemic! To be honest, neither Kate or I were over-excited to hold a grand opening, but it is tradition.
I got one good picture from the entire event, above, of my son and his delight over the snacks. Doughnuts! On a stick! I happily sent my sugared-up toddler home with daddy.
And no grand opening is complete without a ribbon cutting, right? Like any good business owner in a small town, we immediately joined the Beloit Area Chamber of Commerce. The above is a still from the video they posted on Facebook of the ribbon cutting ceremony.
As a side note, the chamber director did say she found those scissors on Amazon. They actually work, but I'm thinking wall art in the retail space...
Well, we had our unofficial opening last Tuesday. Because of the current pandemic, our wholesaler of choice wasn't fully stocked, so there are still blank spots. Some items aren't expected for a few months! We couldn't wait that long.
But, before we're fully stocked or even have a grand opening I wanted to do a quick overview of filling the place with furniture. Mostly.
When sourcing shelving, we don't exactly have the budget or space to go commercial. That's ok. The space is small. Uh... I mean cozy. ;)
The first piece we bought came from Facebook Marketplace: two display shelves with lights. The finish was very dated and we needed it to not compete with the merchandise. We painted it a flat white and it fit right in with Kate's bookcase, which we decided to keep dark to go with the checkout table. The checkout table was a one-sided drop leaf cafe-height Amazon Warehouse special. Meaning someone returned a unique, very nice solid wood table that we snatched up.
The second piece we had made by our talented Dad after some Pinterest inspiration. It's a folding pegboard screen. We could have mounted pegboard directly to the wall it now sits in front of, but having portable display walls means hopefully someday we can take a pop-up shop to the local annual holiday craft fair. After the pandemic is contained, of course.
A last-minute trip to Salina unexpectedly brought two more pieces. The local JC Penney location was closing, and their store fixtures were for sale. We considered some slatwall pieces and stand alone shelving, but as we didn't have a definite merchandise layout we kept it to these two pieces.
After several hours of research into traditional pegboard store shelving, we were convinced it would be nearly $1,000 to buy what we needed. Until Dad came though again with yet another Facebook Marketplace listing for retail metal shelving, minus the pegboard inserts. The listing didn't show up for Kate or I locally as it was in McPherson, a little more than 90 minutes away.
When we got there we discovered it was being sold by a local specialty meats butcher who had closed a second retail location more than 10 years ago and was slowly selling off the fixtures...that had been stored in an open sided machine shed with chickens and cats a-plenty.
We got most of the feathers and dust off the metal pieces, loaded them up, and went clanging and banging back home, having paid less than $20!
Furnishing the middle work room was a much less organized or thought out process than the retail front room.
I purchased a standing mirror for alterations try-ons. Our lovely sister in law found a garment rack for us for alterations in progress. Mom and Dad donated a collapsible banquet table that was well-used but solid. Kate gave up her full sized ironing board with a newly purchased professional steam iron.
And now presenting (some) of the chaos of stocking our shelves!
There is still quite a bit on backorder, but Kate and I have set a grand opening date. We unofficially opened on September 29th because, well, we didn't spend money in an initial stock order to have it sit in a closed store!
I imagine the shelving and organization will change a bit before it's all settled. But it's a giant step forward!
Our new storefront seemed nearly move-in ready when we decided to purchase, but we're going for a particular feel for the shop. Of course we had a few projects in mind...
In the front room we wanted to move the slat wall. Slat wall is great for movable shelving and hooks, but we had pegboard planned for the rest of the space, and thought it might be useful in the center room, which was to be our work room. Kate and Dad tackled the removal, and found plenty of screws through a layer of paneling, all installed while the previous paint was wet! But, off it came. The wall repair was minimal, and there was leftover matching paint in the back room. What luck! When we put it in the center room we made it a little shorter and cut a hole for the precious outlet.
The other major project in the front room involved the ceiling tiles. Several of them had stains, and the realtor told us to just swap them with a few tiles in the middle room. Rumor was another buyer was interested in tearing out the drop ceiling entirely to expose the original tin ceiling.
Kate and I sort of allowed each other one vanity project each in this remodel - a project not absolutely necessary, but one that would add to the "feel" of the place. This ceiling was Kate's vanity remodel. Kate and I both really like tin ceilings, but renovation/restoration on that scale was out of the question. Kate looked into other options, and found a really neat product that simply installed over the existing tiles and replicated a sort of tin ceiling look. It took a few evenings on a ladder and some sore arms, but the result was totally worth it.
Aside from the slatwall I mentioned above, we didn't do a thing to the middle room except move furniture in and replace a TV mount. The original mount was meant for a very large computer monitor and wouldn't fit the extra TV Kate had. But, the bracket was already drilled into a stud, so we used the same wall placement. It's nice to have music or a show on while we repair items.
The back room was another story. I don't think it had been touched since the 1970s. However, we were going to use every square inch of this shop, back room included. It has our desk, shipping station, furnace, internet modem and router, dressing room, bathroom, staff fridge and drinking water dispenser, vacuum closet, storage closet, and back door. Phew!
With Kate working days at a home center she was able to snag some mis-tinted paint. It was a shade pinker than either of us liked, but after we swapped the one ceiling fixture's bulbs from old incandescent to a blue-leaning fluorescent the tone evened out to a more neutral. We gladly said goodbye to the brown paneling.
My vanity project was the carpet in the back room. It was brown, and worn out. I don't think either of us expected that removing it also removed much of the old building smell! Underneath was worn out linoleum, so we had to cover it again. I used the same carpet tile that I had installed in my sewing room, and saved a little money by using the leftover tiles from that project. It looks like a patchwork quilt back there, which usually makes people smile.
And finally the dressing room. We didn't want a permanent structure since the room served so many purposes. As for the location, there were already hooks on the wall in one spot, and a plumbing access hatch that was begging to be covered by a bench.
The walls were cheap curtains strung on narrow PVC pipe. The outer corner was another vertical PVC pipe stuck in a bucket of concrete, and joined at the top with a T-joint. The pipes end at the walls with a closet pole mount. It provides privacy and stands up on it's own, but comes down pretty quickly when it needs to.
Oh - and we hung curtains around the furnace, plus put an outdoor plastic screen around the base. It seems less scary walking into the back room that way now that the corner of your eye only sees neutral curtains, not a large metal box.
I'll leave you with pictures of our outdoor signage so far. We have another vinyl sign to mount above the window outside, but we'll have to borrow a taller ladder.
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!