Blogging for over one year!

It’s been over a year since I started writing down my hopes and dreams to start my own business. I think I have succeeded pretty well. My doors are still open at Tattered and I just attended the 2nd annual Vintage Carnival and sold probably 4-5 times as much as last year!

To update everyone, I started out working full time as a nurse and attended the carnival last year. I then got lucky and found a rental property with a great location in my hometown. We remodeled it and had our grand opening January 26, 2013. I started out being open once a month while continuing to work full time. The store also has a few vendors that bring items when they can. Most of the gals are also busy working Mom’s that love to craft and create on the side. The majority of the sellables are made by me. So I have to find it, clean it, and recreate it. I continued to do this until May when I was allowed to reduce my hours to part time. Last summer really picked up in business and I seemed busier and more stressed than ever. In August, I made the decision to resign from nursing.

My end goal was to be open all the time, not just once a month. In September, I changed my hours to being open every Tuesday thru Saturday. Great! Consistency… That lasted one month. Business slowed down, but I still had enough customers that I couldn’t get projects done in the back room. I had paid $400 in radio, advertising my new extended hours, then changed my mind and went back to being open only that one week a month. What a waste of money. Oh well. Rolling with the punches, why keep doing something that isn’t working? I had a heart to heart with my sister and she suggested going back to open monthly. Her point of view is that people get excited to see the new stuff that has been worked on all month.

I really can’t believe I was able to produce so much earlier this year working. I am having trouble keeping inventory up now. The custom work is still a staple and takes up about 30% of my time usually. Now I hope to settle into a routine and keep going. A lot of people ask me if I miss nursing and so far I don’t. Sometimes I feel like it is completely all on my shoulders and am alone. At least working for a company, there is co-workers for support. I don’t have employees. I don’t mind working independently though. My mother in law usually stops in daily and we have coffee together. My boys will swing in the shop on their lunch breaks and after school. My sister usually comes and helps me once a month with painting or moving the store around. So family is there. Nate is working away from home 3 hours away, only home on weekends. I would love his help just making frames, benches and fixing the junky furniture I bring home.

I am getting pretty handy with the drill and miter saw. I use to rely on Nate to get boards ready for me, by ripping down 2 x 4′s, now I buy the right size I need and just use miter saw to get the exact size I need. I spend quite a bit of time at home too working on the craftier type items like burlap wreathes and pillows.

I wanted to recap the year and let you all know that I still am living my dream and have no plans of quitting. A lot of you out there have contacted me and have similar dreams. If you go for it and fail, what will happen? At least you know you tried. If you love what you do, the money will follow. I think our finances are better now than when I was working. I think before, I would spend money just to spend it. Go out for lunch and stop at Walmart. Now I spend it on my store, but that’s an investment!

I will just add a few projects I have completed, cuz pictures are fun to look at!image001IMG_1468 IMG_1471 IMG_1477 IMG_1480 IMG_1483 IMG_1485 IMG_1493

Back tracking

Oops, I forgot to publish my last post 5 weeks ago. Anybody else have things like that happen? Oh well, I just published it tonight anyway. And hopefully, I will publish this one too. If I don’t forget.

Today, 5 weeks after I wrote that last post, (which was just published tonight), I made another decision about the biz. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time, but I am going back to being an “occasional store.” Why…, I am living out my dream? Open every single week, every Tuesday through Saturday. I am not working anywhere besides for myself. My only co-workers are Sophie and Ole, the husband and wife team of Shih-tzus that just lay around, not helping me paint, very lazy. Well I am not sure what is happening, but business has slooowed down. Maybe it’s that summer is over and the rush of summer was a bunch of teachers that loved my stuff. Not sure, I am guessing, this is just my first year of being a business owner. I have spoken to family and another owner of a similar store and our theory lays with the type of business I’m in. Kind of a phenomenon. Back to when Tattered was first open, it was only monthly. Then it went to every other weekend. Then in September, I can’t believe only September, every Tuesday through Saturday. We believe that our shoppers look forward to that one weekend out of the month to see what is new and fresh. Now that Tattered is open all the time, it’s kind of the same old same old. It isn’t just that. My store is wiped out.

Our town had a fall festival the weekend after Labor Day. It was shoulder to shoulder with customers in Tattered. I couldn’t ask for a better day. It takes a while to get restocked, especially when I haven’t been working on restocking the store! I have been only working on the custom work that is piling up on me. I counted out the pages and there was 10 custom orders and 19 pieces to complete. Ouch! With only me to do all this, I have to make excuses to the customers that walk in and there isn’t much to see in the store. That isn’t right. I keep thinking I’ll need to hire help, to do what though? Who around my small town knows how to paint furniture like me and it would be hard to make a profit with extra help. Then I thought, maybe I should try like other stores do and have vendors set up their booths. Maybe I’m too much of a control freak, I am fussy about what I sell in the store and I want to do my own displays. So I am my own worst enemy. I want help, but not really…

My good ol sis told me today, she thinks I should go back to being open just once a month. I called her and told her I was more overwhelmed now not working as a nurse then I was working full time and being open once monthly at the store.Then I called Robyn at Gerties, a brand new occasional shop in Grand Forks. Her partner Kelly contacted me as a mentor when they were getting started and today I called them to bounce off ideas to someone who understands the business I am in. It’s nice to have a partner like these girls do. Of course things aren’t as scary alone, you have an extra mind to talk things through, but again, half the profits go to the other person.

I am back tracking to how it was when I first started. It doesn’t mean failure to me. It may to other people. I am being flexible and trying a different tactic, which is smart. The town my business is in is small, a little over 300 people. Tattered has a large Facebook following too. I post a picture of a new piece of furniture and often, it sells the same day over the phone. I can’t really blame my small town on the slow business. A friend of mine opened a vintage store as well near the Minneapolis area. I see that she is closing her retail location and will continue her journey bringing her goods to other people’s stores. So look at it both ways. Here, there isn’t  a lot of population, where she is, there is a lot of people, but also a lot of competition. I don’t know the whole story why she is closing, but it happens. At least she tried! I have good people that have read this story from the beginning and I guess are inspired by my journey. They too are hopeful entrepreneurs and are interested in how I am doing. All I can tell them if they are passionate, go for it. It’s true, being a business  owner is not easy, you have a lot less free time, you are more tied down, probably poorer than when you started. We have a lake place that we were at twice this summer (I know poor me).

I am going to keep going. People ask me if I miss nursing and I tell them no I don’t. I have the taste of freedom on my tongue now. I spoke to Nate tonight. He is my hubby that is gone all the time. He is my hubby that is a bridge builder that is GONE ALL THE TIME. Except on Saturdays and Sundays. He likes the life we lived before Tattered. I had steady money direct deposited every other Thursday and health insurance. Now, I deposit checks whenever, mostly once a week and I have Paypal and some cash. Don’t tell Tucker, my oldest son about the cash though, he always takes my cash. We have health insurance too, that isn’t a big deal. Nate is always supportive. What else is he to do? I called him the other day when I couldn’t loosen the chuck on my new drill to change the bit. He states “I can’t really help you over the phone” He did though. I loosened it up and went about the task.

Maybe I should rename the title Rambling Fever. What do you think??

My goal is that the time I am not open, I will still work on all the custom work, have a chance to paint the big pieces that are great sellers, like dressers and get to the piddly fun things all over Pinterest. I need that balance in my store. Not everyone needs a dresser, but what else inspires them to make that purchase. I hate when customers walk in and walk right back out of the store. I know not everyone is going to buy something all the time. Just imagine it as a puzzle and your constantly arranging and changing direction. That makes it interesting. SO, very long story short. It’s ok that I am going backwards. I am not being stagnant and doing the same thing that isn’t really working the best. So if things are a huge struggle and you’re laying awake at night worrying, change something. For me, I try to give my worries to God. I am 41 years old and I think everything I have ever worried about in life has resolved over time and has usually worked out for the better. If you aren’t able to open up a store this year or if you don’t get that job that you dream of, just wait it out, what lays ahead is way better.

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Repurposing dresser drawers

I visited a wonderful gal yesterday that is helping her grandparents clean out a granary on their farm. She reports it was the building where the whole family put their junk they didn’t want anymore. Those are my kinda places! She hauled a load home and told me to pick out what I wanted.

As I become a ahem… more experienced picker, I scour the pieces for damage even beyond my repair. She had this desk that looking from afar, was super cute and a size that isn’t so gi-normous. BUT, the top was some kind of laminate or formica?? and the piece was made of (boo) particle board. Looking at the bottom, the particle board was swelled up with water damage. In the past I would have taken it, feeling bad for the gal because she didn’t want it either, but I turned that piece down.

So I loaded up a copper boiler with that beautiful green patina, 2 tubs of old jars, which I have big plans for, an old smallish farm table. She was so nice and was helping me load stuff too. We settled up what I owed her, then she says, “Could you use the drawers? I think my boys will just burn this desk anyway…. ” Sure, I can take free stuff, at least there were drawer handles that I could possibly reuse.

I got back to the shop yesterday and its funny, sometimes creativity speaks to me. In this case these drawers told me to repurpose them. Ok, I’ve seen that before. I did buy some new spray paint called satin lagoon that is this gorgeous teal. I primed and spray painted the two 10 inch wide drawers, the whole drawer inside and out and the really wide one, I just did the face plate. I added some word art to all, which I have been struggling with, distressed them, which makes any blunders in the word art disappear. I added a little ribbon to where the drawer pulls were. They will make nice little storage somewhere. The nicest part was the drawers were REAL wood, none of that particle board garbage!

repurposed drawers

This project was easy and free!!

Repurposed drawer

The other desk drawer was a very wide and big one. I didn’t think anyone would like that for a storage piece. I already painted it. So I cut the front plate off…

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So I asked my son to get the saw for me and he grabs me a reciprocating saw… overkill, leave it to a guy!!

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Just cut along the edges, there were no nails or staples, so easy cutting. Then flip it over to cut the bottom edge. Then I got to use my new rubber mallet, gave the back plate a WHAP, and the plate went flying. (it’s being distressed anyway) Maybe just see that it lands somewhere it doesn’t break.

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Now there is a really nice wall sign that has the beveled edges and everything! For free!!

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It was a simple project with 3 pieces I can sell in my shop that didn’t take $ or much effort!      Happy junking!

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Time to get creative!

Repurposed stereo made into a store unit with style

Stand/side bar

Finished a piece that has been hanging around the back room for months. This old Hi-Fi stereo unit was repurposed into a muti-purpose storage unit. The colors turned out well together. Annie Sloan Cocoa with Country Grey. I was disappointed when I opened the grey as it is more of a dark cream color. Unsure if it is a labeling error, or if that is truly the color. It works beautifully with cocoa whatever is it!

We removed the “guts” of the radio and the top lid opens to a nice storage area inside. The problem with these stereos is there is usually some ugly carpet type material in the front for speakers. At Tattered, we have had a lot of success with the galvanized metal look. This piece had the silver panels inserted, but didn’t look right with the brown tones of the cabinet, so I painted the panels bronze. The upside to these pieces are they are usually beautifully detailed and intricate, as well as very affordable and abundant to find at thrift stores. I really like this piece. I know the ones that are good are the pieces I am tempted to keep!

Custom painted night stand

Custom painted night stand

Here is another example of Cocoa with the Country Grey. A customer asked if we had any night stands. This is a really cute little 4 drawer dresser that I picked when it was a lilac shade… not a favorite color for a little boy and his legos. The top was stripped and stained, as well as the original knobs.

It has been fun doing the multi color look, I think I am going to have a blast with color combos.

More recent projects I have had time to finish!

Ripped vinyl seat with past it's prime paint job

Ripped vinyl seat with past it’s prime paint job
Sturdy fabric seat with coordinating color for rest

Sturdy fabric seat with coordinating color for rest of stool

I love metal stools! The industrial look is so hot now. With the updated contemporary colors it is industrial chic at it’s BEST!

Paint completely chipped off seat

Paint completely chipped off seatI got lucky at a recent pick and got 3 metal stools, can’t get enough of them! This one is so sturdy and has the awesome industrial look with the big adjustable seat.

Upcycled shop stoolThe Annie Sloan paint will be tested with this stool! It is done in Aubussen Blue. Pretty enough to pull out of the shop and put around the bar!

Barcelona orange side table I have been having fun experimenting with new colors, here is Barcelona orange with dark wax.

Barcelona Orange with Old White

Barcelona Orange with Old White

Undercoat is the orange with Old White.

I wanted to give you all an update of what I have been up to. Feels so good to get pieces done and to fill up the store again. Of course there is not enough time to get everything done I want to accomplish.

There is hope after all! Five weeks from now, I will reduce my hours at the clinic to part time! That means I can be open at Tattered more and spend more time on the projects and keeping the business running and profitable.

There has been such a hugely positive response to the store. People really seem to like the stuff we have and the building is a draw. It is unique and just a funky place to visit.

Here in Minnesota, winter doesn’t know its spring. There is ANOTHER Sunday/Monday winter storm expecting 6-12 inches of the white stuff with winds of 25-30 mph. I have been patiently waiting to move junk outside on the porch. I know curb appeal is what draws my eye to swing in to shop at a store like mine.

I can’t believe it! I almost forgot to share our biggest pick yet !!!

Biggest pick yet!!

Biggest pick yet!!

This was a great lead! I was contacted to see if we wanted the wood off this old shed. The fellow wanted it moved to use the land for tillable acres. Unfortnuately, there was another shed that was destroyed. This one is great! It is such a sturdy shed, we decided not only we wanted the wood, we wanted the whole building! It took Nate most of last weekend to jack it up and load on the trailer. It was only a few miles from home, so it sits in our small country yard. It really is quite quaint.

There was a lot of garbage in the shed, but did find some old goodies too. It took me 3 hours to clean the shed and sort out what was salvageable. The only critter I came across was one deceased mouse. I was creeped out anyway, cuz there obviously had been a lot of critters living in there, or at least was their outhouse. I said I only saw the one mouse. My poor hubby on the other hand….. As he jacking up the shed, he kicked loose some tin around the bottom. What do you suppose may be under an old shed in April? Well, a homeless skunk would be! He got the last laugh as he sprayed Nate’s boot and ran off. I worked in and out of that shed for 3 hours, lucky for me it was still nap time for PePe La Pew. 

Oh the adventures awaiting me!!!

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Balance

To be hard on myself, I could say I am bad at the art of blogging. I made one post in January and one in February. The most successful bloggers have daily posts. I started out with more posts when I still just had a dream in my head. The dream in now a reality and there is a lot of stuff to do. So, I won’t be too hard on myself. I actually make myself feel better by thinking the daily bloggers are just stay at home mom’s who type away when their kids are off to school. Sorry to all those who I may have insulted, remember I think that just to make myself feel better.

I continue to work at the clinic full time. I have been open two weekends now at Tattered and the success is meeting, if not exceeding my expectations. The grand opening was fantastic, but the next open weekend was three weeks after that. I had over half a store to fill up again. Life and death goes on, basketball games come and go, a funeral for a first cousin the weekend before my opening and all the regular stuff; confirmation classes for the 14 year old, trying to keep tabs on my seventeen year old. Nate still working in the -20 below weather, he is completely exhausted from working outside, so wants the warm couch at night.

The second weekend I was open, I can say I did not feel at all ready for. The store was not nearly full of merchandise as I would have liked. There is only so much one person can do. I did have a good day of sales though without a lot of promotion. My sister and I struck gold picking one weekend, so a lot of the stuff that sold was good old antiques, that I didn’t have to refinish. It is nice to have a mix of classics with the fun retro.

I have a little time between sales, the next weekend open is March 16. So I thought I better get after the books. Last week I finally plunked down a little of the profits on accounting software. Why was that such a hard decision?? I researched and went back and forth for weeks. I went with QuickBooks. I messed around with it a little, screwed up, deleted a bunch of stuff I worked on one evening and haven’t opened it since. I think it will work fine, I just wonder if a box of receipts and sales tags would have done be just as well. It seems a little sophisticated for what my purpose is. I am sure it will be great, just another thing to do!

I am confident that the March 16 sale will have TONS of merchandise. I worked on old furniture all day today. Yesterday, we took a trip to Grand Forks and hit a few places. I found a shopping cart of goodies at the Goodwill, can’t wait to repurpose!

Gorgeous color

Gorgeous color

This actually is much prettier in person. It is done in a color called Florence and there is a chocolate glaze over.
 
Side table in Florence

Side table in Florence

 
 I am starting to have fun working on displays too. I need a lot of help here and have a lot to learn. There are some stores that I walk into and my mind is spinning and my heart is pounding, I get so excited at all the displays. I aspire to have Tattered by that type of destination.
 
Loving silver and glass look right now

Loving silver and glass look right now

elegant

Beachy- Cape Cod inspired

Beachy- Cape Cod inspired

The title of today’s post was balance. I don’t want this to feel like another thing I have to do. I have to find balance in life. The scales are one sided right now. I will be cutting to part time at the clinic so I can devote more time to my passion. Details are being worked out. My desire is to be open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I would work 2 to 3 days at the clinic a week. I keep my toes in the stable ground of the clinic, while my other foot is pushing off the dock on the boat. So you can imagine how I feel, my legs are going farther apart, almost doing the splits, ready to fall in the water. I have to keep balancing for a while, so I don’t fall in.

 

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