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Friday, October 31, 2014

Scheduling - Mistake?!?! Or A Day At Home

We have great staff at both stores - Not Too Shabby & Re-Find Living!  
They really are the BEST!  
Normally I jump between both stores, working on displays, teaching workshops, and of course helping our amazing customers.  Typically we're working a little bit at each store, every day.

Add in that we've hit the Holidat Season and that adds a few hours to every day.  I'm feeling like a walking zombie.

Well, today is Halloween & we normally work at NTS on Fridays, but we were scheduled to work at RFL this afternoon to help with the trick-or-treaters.  

But......the RFL schedule was without us, so..... We stayed HOME!

Our day started with breakfast at Pegs (love them!). 

We unpacked the last of the Holiday boxes (we've been unpacking Holidays since AUGUST!)

I made crock pot Totilla Soup.

Started crock pot Apple Butter.

Watched Ellen's Halloween craziness.


And now I'm finalizing our Christmas decorations, because we roll out Christmas next week at Not Too Shabby.

Happy Halloween!

B


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Henredon Dining set - Chalk Paint® on Upholstery

Before painting the chairs, I examined the upholstry and decided that despite staining, it was in great shape.   Making it perfect for painting with our amazing Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan.



After cleaning the upholstery with soapy water, I masked off the chair back, to protect the freshly painted wood.

I then sprayed each cushion with plain water.  Enough to wet, but not soak the upholstery.  Using a wet Annie Sloan paint brush, I brushed on a thin coat of Chalk Paint® Coco.  The goal being to keep the fabric as close to the original texture by 'dying' the fabric, not really 'painting' the fabric.



It took 7 very thin watery coats to achieve the depth of color I wanted.  I dampened the upholstery with the sprayer before painting each coat.

After letting the fabric dry for a couple of days, I clear waxed the upholstery.




The chairs turned out great.  The upholstery has a nice smooth finish that will be easy to maintain and clean for several years.  This was a less costly solution than re-upholstering the seats bottom and back.




Note - These chairs were perfect for this project because the upholstery was in such good shape with no rips, tears, or worn marks.  Also, because of the upholstered back, which would be pretty costly to re-upholster, I chose to 'dye' the fabric with Chalk Paint®.  

Remember water is your friend.



Inspired?
B


Monday, October 13, 2014

SYWTOAS - Inspirer

Or as I think of it - Ongoing Saga Of CrazyPants!

Just a reminder - I'm committed to publishing CrazyPants stuff on Mondays, let's see if you like it!

DISCLAIMER - This isn't for the faint of heart, and I apologize in advance if I'm a little 'preachy'.

Last week I shared an overview of the various 'hats' a store owner has to wear on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. I thought we could delve into being the inspirer today.


Inspirer- Even if your store is a One-Man/Woman show you have to inspire yourself & customers daily.  Everyday.  I mean it!  Everyday you have to wake up and be excited about what your doing.  If you aren't on your A-Game, your customers will know.  Trust me some days are harder than others and my customers could sense this and didn't want to shop.  

Whether it's a family issue, money issue, inventory issue, or just over all not-having-a-good-day.  It doesn't matter. Most customers want to shop with happy people.  This doesn't mean manical, drugged, or overly caffeinated people.  It means genuinely pleasant.

Most customers are looking for a place that 'feels' good when they visit.  Makes them feel good about their purchases, and (Gold-Star) brightens their day.  



Think about it, you want to shop in stores where the people are happy, engaged, and having fun.  If I walk into a store where the workers/owners are whispering or sitting around.  Especially if the workers or owners aren't doing anything, I usually can't find anything I want. 

I leave.

It is very hard to get potential customers who have left, to come back.  It's expensive, demoralizing, and frustrating.

It is much more cost effective to win customers over on their first visit.  Building rapport on subsequent visits, and increasing their customer loyalty from the first moment you meet them.



You're probably thinking this is a no-brainer.  Yet I hear EVERY DAY from customers, having just discovered our stores, how some other store was rude, not-friendly, and in most cases, they were not open their posted hours (another conversation).

My experience with this situation is the owners had become jaded.  They weren't having fun at their shop any more.  They had lost their JOY at the store.  Because if they still loved their store, they would be excited to see every customer.  Excited to share their latest treasure hunting finds.  


Each of us gets our inspiration differently.  One way I try to stay inspired is to hang out with positive people.  Hanging out with negative people is simply too draining.  And I found I was filled with self-doubt afterwards, instead of being excited to try that new technique.  It has taken time to create a support team of supportive people, and it runs both ways.  I'm as much their champion as they are mine.  

Another way I stay inspired is I ONLY sell what I'm passionate about!  I LOVE our Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan.  LOVE LOVE LOVE IT.  

I love holidays, I love Little Boot Peeps, I love rescuing real furniture.  So it's easy for me to share our latest piece, new item, or crazy holiday decorations because I LOVE them and I hope you do too.

Who keep you inspired?  What do you love?

B

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Henredon Dining Set - French Style

I've just finished the most amazing dining set.


Truly.  It's unbelievably beautiful.



It's made out of SOLID Maple and Pecan woods.  Put together so beautifully solid.  The joinery is artistic.  This is my first Henredon set, and I almost kept it.  



But I could see exactly how I wanted to paint it, so.....I did.


I started with a Pure White Old Ochre Chalk Paint® custom blend.

Then I painted Louise Blue on top, quickly wiping off with a cloth. (It's hard to see the blue in the picture)


After clear and dark wax and a light sanding, I highlighted the curves with gilding wax.


Next, I painted the upholstery.

Intrigued?
B

Monday, October 6, 2014

So You Want To Open A Store?

Or as I think of it - Ongoing Saga Of CrazyPants!

Note - I'm committed to publishing CrazyPants stuff on Mondays, let's see if you like it!

I think it's my fault, the fact that so many of you want to open a store.  It's crazy how many people on a DAILY basis ask me about opening a store.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE owning my own store.  


In fact I have ideas for two more stores.  

I just don't have enough time..... Yet.

I thought I would occasionally share (because of time issues��) topics related to owning my own store.  Not to scare you, but rather to clarify how crazy, wonderful, exhausting, mind-numbing, exhilarating, balancing, and perfect owning a store can be.....




This isn't for the faint of heart.

Seriously, read on only if you are ready!

Let's start with a List of Hats required - 




Inspirer- Even if your store is a One-Man/Woman show you have to inspire yourself & customers daily.  Everyday.  I mean it!  Everyday you have to wake up and be excited about what you're doing.  If you aren't on your A-Game, your customers will know.  Trust me some days are harder than others and my customers could sense this and didn't want to shop.  

Think about it, you want to shop in stores where the people are happy, engaged, and having fun.  If I walk into a store where the workers/owners are whispering or sitting around, I usually can't find anything I want.  I leave.




Organizer - You are responsible for organizing EVERYTHING.  This means EVERYTHING.  Seriously.  There are very few things worse than opening a box of the cutest bunnies and chicks for Easter, on Forth-of-July.  That's just wasted merchandise which translates to wasted dollars.

You also must organize your orders, inventory, seasonal vs. everyday, display pieces, supplies, and that's not even talking about paperwork!  

I have a 3-car warehouse that I constantly clean, re-organize, and re-prioritize.  I also have a 20x20 storage unit, and yet I currently have over 400 as-yet-unpacked boxes of seasonal merchandise in my Livingroom/entry/hallway.  




Visual Merchandiser - You are responsible for every display.  Even if you hire someone to create all your displays.  The final checkpoint is you.  

I LOVE creating new looks, moving everything around, bringing in new stuff.  I live for customers coming in and catching their breath.  It inspires me for the next display.  It's so rewarding when someone comes into the store right after I've struggled with the 'perfect' display for a piece, and they buy it!

Guess what?  You then have to create another display.  No wasted time, space, money.




Marketing - Luckily today there are a lot of free and relatively low-priced marketing options.  Including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Website, Blogging ��, Pinterist, and Yelp.  Unfortunately free doesn't translate to effortless!  They just take up time.

I try to update Facebook and Instagram daily.  The Blog and Pinterist get updated 3-5 times a week, and I had to hire someone to update the website.  I spend an hour every morning and two hours every Monday, on just electronic marketing.

Because I am really an ordinary human, I regularly get messages from Facebook and Pinterist that my 'followers' want more....seriously.  

Automated pressure.  




Book-Keeper - Lets start with - it is very important to understand all the Taxable vs. Non-Taxable rules. You must also track all purchases, sales, and custom jobs.  Because all of my furniture comes second-hand (garage sales, estate sales, pickers, goodwill, hospice, etc), I must keep very accurate records.

There's also the credit card receipts, invoices, statements, and purchase orders.

I used to balance the books once a month, now I'm doing it once a quarter.  It takes a lot of time to do this, AND I have a tax guy.  Crazy.




Heavy-Lifter - This is not just physically lifting and moving merchandise around, trust me you do that a LOT!  You are also responsible for morally, ethically, and positively lifting everyone in the store.  This probably sounds a little pretentious.  Think about it, if you bought a table from a boutique store, and the paint lifted off.  Wouldn't you be so disappointed?  So upset?  

Would you buy something from that store again?

Not likely.  

When people buy something from your store/you, they are buying the 'experience' of your store.  They are taking a piece of your store home.  

Take a moment and look around your house.  Remember where you got that table?  Sofa? Rug? 
The memories we associate with our stuff start with where it came from.




Psychic  - There are two major Home & Gift Shows a year across the country.  January and July.  In January you're buying Christmas for the following December.  To be shipped starting June.  Crazy.  

This requires you to be aware enough to determine if a trend is going to last, pick your colors, styles, and quantities.  It is very difficult to re-order items when the actual season is here.  You have to know in advance.  Every decision is critical with the budget of a boutique.  




I think that's enough for today.

See you next Monday.... if you're not already scared off!

B

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Autumn Lake Time

We've gathered some fun Lake Signs, vintage camping memorabilia, and just cool stuff!  

Starting with this wonderful Lake Rules sign.


Love the chalkboard painted globe!

And the fun Chalk Paint® signs that Michelle made for camping.


These fun signs are $15, perfect hanging outside on the porch.

We've got a great combo of wood signs, metal signs, and prints.  

The battery operated LED lanterns have dimmers!  Love it!


Just in time for end of the summer family relaxing time.

B





Friday, September 12, 2014

A Little Bit of Panache

What a great word - Panache!

Not a word I hear very often, yet it fits this project perfectly.


I brought in this beautiful vintage French-style vanity, painted French Linen.

It looked great, but it needed a little punch.


So Cara added some harlequin diamonds.  Sanded a little.

That's part of the beauty of Chalk Paint® Decorative paint by Annie Sloan, you can just paint on top of the wax.


And now it's just stunning.


What do you think?

B