What an incredible journey this has been over the last few months! If you had told me last year this is what I'd be doing, I would never had believed you. What started as a late night conversation of "What kind of a business do you think would be great in Harmony?" turned into "Oh my goodness! We're really going to do this?!"
Thanks so much to everyone! There has not been a single person who told me (to my face) that we were crazy. There has been so much excitement with people I know and with perfect strangers that I'm just amazed at the support and love and energy.
Every day people ask, "How's it going?" Here it is- every day is completely different.
Most days are filled with talking with different suppliers. I started searching the internet to find "local food" or products or anything I could think of. I've looked through farmers market stores, read through vendor lists for festivals and conventions, and searched anywhere that might name a local company. It's amazing what's produced in this state! We are so lucky to have such a great variety of food and artisan items that people are creating as a hobby or as a livelihood.
It took us about 3 weeks to finalize a look for the store. We went through Pinterest like our lives depended on it. Every store picture, every local shop, every hometown fair, every boutique. What finally hit us were pictures of pantries. How simple! But that's what we're creating. The best stocked pantry you could ever imagine. Simple shelving, clean white with pops of color, and some aspects of rustic charm. I have no idea what it's called (someone can come name it for me) but I know it when I see it.
A friend, Jenna Sasala, designed the logo which helped convey the simple, pantry, and clean feel. That really helped move us forward as we continued developing our brand. Jenna created a variety of options, some which she and I both liked better than the one we ultimately chose. But it was the simplicity of the rolling pin that won out in the end.
With a logo, brand, color choices (was anyone surprised with the blue, really?!) we could start collecting fixtures for the store. We've decided to make some ourselves which helps keep costs down as well and creates exactly what we want. Carl comes home, eats dinner and goes downstairs to make as much noise and sawdust as possible. I've been hitting garage sales and consignment shops to find shelving that fits the look. No matter what color it is, it's getting painted Behr Bakery Box White. How could I not have chosen that color? The first day I painted for 6 hours. Anything that didn't move got primed and painted. But with the not so great back I have, I paid for that fun day for a week. Not being that crazy again.
While I'm just horrible with technology (so many good stories about that!) it has been pretty cool to sit and learn about it. We've got the website up, instagram working, and the facebook page rocking my world. For me it's more about the marketing element rather than the techy stuff which is great since my mind is all about marketing. Plus, my partner is crime is a math/computer major who works in the IT/marketing department of a major retail business. I think we've got this covered pretty well for a small business.
Last week I finished gathering most of the store furniture. We have lots of shelving and tables and decorations. We just don't know how it all fits in the space, how it all looks together, and if it all works in the store the same way it looks in my head. So I've stopped buying baskets and stools and tables and pictures and glass jars and ladders and everything else. We'll see how it all looks the first week in May when we move everything in. Don't worry! I have a kids corner to set up as well as a few chairs. Why? You always need a "I'll wait for you here" spot as well as a "Sit there and don't move" seat. I'm on it!
The printer, Huckestein Printing, has some final mock ups of business cards and flyers and such so I'll get meet with them this week. I discovered that in a perfect world, I would have had these items created a month ago so I could hand them out. While I'm out at garage sales telling people what I'm doing, they all ask for a card. When I meet with suppliers, they ask for a card. When I'm talking to local businesses, they ask for a flyer. Live and learn.
These next two weeks will also include getting orders ready and out to suppliers. It's getting real!
So that's how it's going. Every day, another piece to the puzzle matches up. While everything isn't working perfect, it has been an incredibly smooth process. We make choices, move forward, and deal with what needs to happen each day. And testing the products isn't such a bad perk either.