I've been a little slow in getting to my blog lately--I guess I'm tapping-out my writing efforts with this weekly column I've been writing for our local paper, The Leaf Chronicle. I thought, "Hey, as much as I like to run my mouth--surely I can write a column AND keep-up with my blog, and the shop, and the family, and the . . . surely I can.
Anyhoo, I was flattered they asked and even more flattered that they continue to print them! You can find them in the Sunday Living section of The Leaf Chronicle, but I think you can only connect to the current week's article, so I can't provide a perma link. (Now, I flatter myself in thinking you'd be looking for one!)
The article I wrote for Sunday, Feb 21st, touched on a subject that has been eating at me for a long time, but especially since I've opened my shop. It's the way shop owners are portrayed in life style magazines. It's as though the magazines are providing us with the "harlequin romance" equivalent of shop keeping. (Perhaps Kendall can help me establish a permanent link for times like this, when I want to expand on a theory.)
The part that I didn't dwell on in the article is the part about how I feel as a shop owner when I read articles about these fabulously successful business women.
I realize we are a small population--those of us who have managed to open a shop of our own, but even smaller is the percentage of us that actually enjoy "magazine cover success." (I'm still waiting.) Many close within months or years of taking a shot at their dream. Some of us hang-on; covering expenses, but never really getting ahead. But very few actually enjoy that moment when you think, "Wow! This is so great I need to set-up a franchise!"
If I had a dime for every time a customer tells me they dream of opening their own shop, I'd be a fabulously successful business woman! What I hope to convey with this post is not discouragement, but reality. I'm not saying you can't do it and be a huge success, but what I am saying is the folks that do enjoy that status, probably had a little fabulous and success in their lives already--you know what I mean?
Back to the magazine article in question . . . While reading it, I was subjected to photographs of a stunning woman, in her amazing home or her fabulous showroom of her mammoth warehouse, standing in front of billowing yards of custom silk draperies, while wearing her size four couture skirt and coordinating designer pumps. Then, my mind wanders . . . what would the photos of an article about me and my shops feature?
Well, first, the shop owner is a size 8 (sometime 10), middle aged mother of three with a huge divot (some might call a "worry line") carved in her forehead, just between her eyes, caused from squinting at the "bottom line" of her balance sheet and trying to see something that's not there! She'd be standing in, what she considers to be, an amazing house, but which photographs more like a project for "This Old House;" not in front of billowing silk drapes, but in front of custom (which means she made them herself) burlap curtains. Her shop looks much the same--with a floor that reverberates with every step and a rather questionable amount of distance between the floor and the baseboards on the mezzanine level. The building is large; cold in the winter and HOT in the summer. You'll also find photos of her second shop, on the second floor of the building, yet another chapter in her "Get Rich . . . Never" book.
Then, upon closer examination, you'll see the laugh wrinkles that also line the shop owner's face, because her life is filled with more joy than one woman deserves--the "divot" is there from money worries, sure, but also from the worry that comes from raising three amazing kids and seeing her Army husband, love of her life, off and home again on his many missions. You'll see she's wearing comfy skirts, in what her husband has coined her "Laura Ingall's" style--too long--with her cowboy boots or Dr. Marten's. You'll see a house that she wouldn't give up for anything--it's always in need of repair, but everyday she feels blessed to walk through the door. You'll also see the house is decorated in the same style you'll find at her shop--no silk curtains at either location. At her shop, you'll see the types of things she loves and hopes you will, too. You'll see ideas you can really use (and can afford to buy) for your own home. You'll see, at her other shop, a business where she hopes to launch some other entrepreneurial spirit on their way to owning their own place--where the hopes of any profit were not even part of the business plan and where she is lucky to have one of her sisters managing it for her.
There's a lot you don't see behind the glossy pages of the magazines--many of the women I envy as business owners are single, without children; by choice, I'm almost sure. And while I hope and dream of the success they've enjoyed in with their business, I'll take this route and enjoy the ride.
I think, what you'll see is a true portrait of a shop keeper--not the stuff of glossy magazines, but the stuff of real life. This is what you'll come across when you go into most boutiques across America--not the the other stuff. So if you want to know what it's really like to run a shop or be the owner of a small business in America, I suggest you close your magazines and you stop in and chat with one of us--we'll be more than happy to tell you about it!
Thanks for your indulgence!
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