As I sit here on a rare sunny day off, I wanted to reflect on the first three months of Too Good General Store. On August 9th it will be officially 3 months since we opened our doors. It is at this point in my corporate life that the probationary period comes to an end and both parties can say “you know what, this was not what I thought it would be so I’m going to (or you should) pack up and go. Good luck in the future”.
With this endeavour, I do not have that opportunity and that’s just fine. While it may not be exactly what I thought it would be all the time, it is most of the time and more.
- I wanted the store to be a place where the community could come and participate in workshops. Check. 1 workshop completed and 6 scheduled
- I had hoped that people would want to congregate around the community table for their own events. Check. 2 book clubs have gathered here.
- I saw myself in the role of problem solver. This was always my favourite role in my corporate life and yes these problems are different but it gives me huge satisfaction to know that I’ve helped someone pick the perfect engagement, hostess or birthday gift.
- I wanted to bring interesting and unique Canadian Made merchandise to Unionville. Check. Sometimes I can’t carry the things I want to because they are not Canadian made and that can be tough. I’ve only made a few exceptions where it is nearly impossible to source 100% Canadian.
- I hoped to give the tourists who come visit Unionville a different kind of souvenir. I may have lost some sales because I don’t have the “typical” Canadian souvenirs but my goal is to be unique and I think we’ve accomplished that.
- I wanted the store to be welcoming and fun. It’s makes me so happy to hear people comment on how great the store smells, sing along to our music selection and laugh out loud when reading one of our quirky cards.
I’ve learned a lot about retail and suspect I will continue to learn as long as I do this. Employee management, theft, payroll, technology issues, inventory management, customer service - the list is long and sometimes painful but we persevere and learn new lessons each day.
If given the option to walk away at this three month point I would not take it. I would say, thanks but I’m having too much fun. Excuse me while I go help a customer choose the perfect wedding gift.
As I sit here in the relative calm and quite of an airplane cabin on my way to Vancouver for a few days of quiet time with my husband before the crazy starts, I thought it was the perfect time to write my first blog for the store and set my intentions, my brand wish.
It’s only been about six weeks since I decided to jump off this cliff and 8 weeks since it was even an idea to talk about. It’s definitely been an insane time and I do not recommend this accelerated pace to anyone opening their own store. Luckily I have amazing support from my friends and family and 20 years with the seed of this idea percolating in my brain. I also have the huge advantage of coming from 20 years of fast paced corporate experience in advertising and marketing.
I have to say, this has been such an exciting time. The adrenaline and feeling of accomplishment each day reminds me of how amazing it felt in the early days of my career learning and achieving success. I love that I get to bring to my community what I hope will become a true destination for locals and tourists. I love how I finally get to use my buying and merchandising diploma and weave it into my years of project management and marketing skills. But what I’m really enjoying is finding the unique Canadian treasures that will make people want to keep coming back to the shop and talking to the makers and hearing their stories.
It’s now three days later and after an amazing time with my man walking from one end of Vancouver to the other, exploring, gathering ideas, stories and eating (it’s usually about the food for me) we head back home with A LOT of work to do.
Tomorrow we get the keys and after a family picnic in the space I’ve invited some of my girlfriends to help me expel any bad “ju ju” that may be lurking in the corners with a smudging ceremony and then setting new positive intentions with some pink champagne and a dance party.
My hopes for Too Good General Store that I hope will be cemented into the walls, DNA, brand and vibe of the store are this.
A place where, when you walk in you can’t hep but smile. It might be the way the store is curated that day, the funny greeting card you didn’t know you needed until it made you laugh out loud, it might be the smells of wonderful candles or essential oils, it might be the music, or the promise of a good conversation as I share the stories behind my latest finds, maybe it’s the the excitement of meeting some new friends or connecting with existing ones at the Community Table where you are going to learn a new skill or discuss the latest book.
Regardless of what it is for you, my promise, my hope, is that the Too Good General Store brings some brightness into your day and you leave with a smile on your face (and of course a shopping bag in your hand).