Sunday, January 3, 2010

Snow day

Overnight, this little mountain town was blanketed in snow...again. It's after 8 am and there has been little to no traffic down Main Street. Just a glimpse of downtown Eureka Springs in its beautiful pristine state:

(What you can't see in this last pic is the six or seven deer running through the woods.)

I don't think I'll be opening the store today! ;-)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shop resolutions, 2010

It's a new year already, and I can hardly believe it. Time just flew by last year as we were busily planning/designing/opening/running our store. And what a great ride it has been! Despite my trepidation, I've found that being a retailer is fun and rewarding, that my customers are my greatest inspiration, that getting to be creative again is a great rush, and that living above the shop in downtown Eureka Springs is simply wonderful. It's all good.

So how did we end up doing this? It was a circuitous route, believe me. A few years ago, we decided we were tired of Dallas and wanted to do something different with our lives. I had always dreamed of having a small inn or boutique hotel, so I began researching appropriate properties for sale throughout the U.S. After I had determined several that we wanted to look at, we set out on a road trip to look them over. Our first stop? Eureka Springs. I hadn't been here since I was a child, and I was enchanted all over again. What a charming and magical place it is!

We found a property that seemed perfect and made an offer that was accepted. A few months went by, the entire project was planned, designed and budgeted, and we were so excited to start. Then one hour before closing on the property, it all fell apart. Can't go into the details, but let's just say all was not what was represented. We sadly returned to Dallas.

However, we couldn't get Eureka Springs out of our minds. We kept returning week after week and looking at everything that was for sale, hoping we could somehow make our dream work. Nada. Then we saw our current building. It wasn't suitable as an inn, but we sure did like it. Right downtown, huge, great living quarters, a large basement perfect for Rob's workshop. But what would we do with it? The owners told us we should open a shop. Now, I had been in and around the retail world for decades (advertising and marketing shopping centers and urban areas) and never considered being a shop owner. But the idea slowly grew on me, we bought the building, I started reading blogs by small shop owners and noting how creative an outlet retailing can be, and after several months of gutting and rebuilding, the shop was born. And thank goodness for that.

These nine months of being open have taught me a lot, thus I can make more educated resolutions for the new year:
  • Open up the basement. (Rob took half the basement for his workshop, and the rest has been just used for storage so far.) The space is rather charming, with stone walls and thick rafters, and will be a great backdrop for art and seasonal goods, as well as sale items.
  • Stock more handcrafted items, especially those made in the Ozarks.
  • Keep track of my amazing customers more diligently.
  • Continue to find original and unique vendors and suppliers.
  • Get our online sales going. (I've been putting this one off, but it's time to bite the bullet.)
  • Market Eureka Springs as well as Cottage Caboodle. (PR, PR, PR. The name of the game.)
  • Blog more often!
I wish all of you the happiest of new years!