|My original country town store. The class room was out the back.|
When we returned to Australia we saw the opportunity to do something bigger and better than what was currently available, with much better pricing (I couldn't believe how much local customers were getting ripped off!) and so we did. It has been a success and to begin with we both enjoyed it very much. We have a terrific core bunch of customers and I think there has always been a generally good feeling about shopping with us. Some of the other stores weren't happy as they were forced to lower prices to compete and that is one of the best parts about being in retail. Seeing prices drop to what they should have been all along and being the one responsible for it!
|The day we got the keys to our new store|
We worked very hard that first year working 7 days a week and only having public holidays off while building the business. We then hired someone to take some of the load off and things were going very well. But the current economic climate is starting to take its toll and this year we had to lay off our employee. To prevent us having to go back to 7 days a week working we started to close on Sundays. It has been bliss to have time off together as a family as we had still worked every weekend previously. The kids come to work with us on weekends and holidays and it just isn't fair on them to continue doing it. Both of us work upwards of 50 hours a week with no holidays.
|We did everything ourselves including designing and building all the stands.|
However the thing that has caused the most hurt is the local campaign against me. About a year ago someone started to spread lies about me throughout the local papercraft industry. She discovered that although I try to always be nice, I won't allow myself to be manipulated by others. I won't do something just because she demands it. There were some nights where all I did was cry. At times blogging was the only escape from the hurt as NONE of my customers even know this blog exists. I use a childhood nickname so that my real friends can find me but I remain undiscovered by anyone else. Through my blog I have found some great online friends who brighten my day just by their comments and their blogs. I enjoy sharing in the pieces of your lives that you write about and love that you want to share these things with us. There is a current train of thought in my city that says that to own a papercrafting store you have to create pages that are works of art and weighed down with a bucket load of chipboard and Prima. But that is just not me and so I can't even share any of my work in the store or the criticism I receive from that group just about destroys me. When my blogging slowed down is about when I hit rock bottom.
|Opening day - looks lots diff now :-)|
But you know, I am much better now. Being home on Sunday has meant I have been able to go back to attending church and I have found strength that I didn't even know was possible. I started finding joy in the little blessings that pop up both at home and at work, and the weight of the bad started to fade. And then a light started to appear at the end of the tunnel. Yes financially we are at our limit. Our previous home still hasn't sold after three years, and it now isn't even worth the amount it is mortgaged for. But, someone was interested in buying the business from us. Research and valuations were done and we were hopeful for a positive outcome. During all of this we were still confused about our feelings when it came to selling. Some of the time we were sure it was the right thing to do and then we would have a great time at a craft night and we would think of all we would be missing out on. And then the sale fell through ... and we were very disappointed. That was one way of knowing for sure that we didn't want to be running this business anymore. If we were meant to keep it we would have been happy.
|Set up shops at craft fairs|
So this week we told our customers that we are for sale for a brief period, and if we don't sell or enter negotiations in that time, we will be closing at the end of the month. If that is the case then we will move our store online. I don't think I have been happier in over a year. For the past few days I have had customers come in heartbroken that we are doing this, and while I will miss them, I won't miss the 'bricks & mortar' part of the business one bit. Customers have gotten crankier and harder to please over the past few years and my brother put it well the other day when he said "We now have Christmas customers all year long"!
|Hosted The Princess' party in the class room|
I must admit that I have been surprised by the supportive and generally positive feedback that we have received on our business Facebook page and by email. I will miss many of our lovely customers and a few have even become good friends which I will continue to see regularly :-) I have yet to have any contact or feedback from the 'click' I mentioned earlier, but I am sure that is to come after the Easter weekend. Discussions about my business are popping up on craft forums everywhere containing plenty of speculation which is proving to be interesting (and comical) reading. Don't these people realise that store owners are often members of these same forums?????
|Held crazy craft-a-thons|
Now I look ahead and the future is rosy even if there is still a long road to travel. Whichever way our lives end up going all will be fine. We have had some interest in the business so far and only time will tell if they are genuine or just being nosey. I close up the shop for today in 20min to have two days off in a row with my family. This is what life is about, spending time with family. Not working yourself to the bone and dragging your kids along with you. I have missed out on sharing so much with my kids over the past few years and I am not going to miss out any more. I know this was a long post but I needed to get it all out. If you made it this far I am duly impressed :-)
|Our most recent shop birthday|