'Tis the season for lists and reflecting and all things looking back. As we hit the final stretch of 2018, it's a good time to intentionally stop, slow down, and remember what this year held.
During the early part of the year, we were making final preparations to move the store. Do you know how hard it is to pack when customers are still shopping? I'm ashamed to share what a disaster my packing was and thank goodness for patient in-laws who came to pack and transport and paint and sit around doing nothing when the timeline collapsed. We did successfully move, were not ready to open when we did, but enjoyed people coming to celebrate a new chapter in our journey.
The next few months were really hard. We were in the middle of the winter that would never end. We thought moving in those cold months would be good so there wouldn't be much sales lost during slow months but it was very slow and it just went on forever!
But as spring arrived and humans left their houses again, we started to see a sense of community arriving to our store. We worked with Clarion River Organics to set up a weekly CSA drop off, people starting discovering our farm fresh milk and eggs, our farmer from Feel Good Farms set up on Saturdays, we we began to get to know a new set of customers.
One of the most awesome aspects in December is that these customers are coming in to buy holiday gifts. Now, this sounds obvious but what is so exciting is that these people have gotten used to us, they know what we have, they've seen the value of local products and when it's time to purchase like our lives depend on it, they want to buy here! (Did I explain that well enough? If not, just know that my heart is just doing jumping jacks!!)
So looking back and taking some time to be grateful, here's some of what makes up my gratitude list:
1. Connecting our local community - My heart has always been to connect the community whether it be binding consumer to farmer or neighbor to neighbor. Can it be a business? Do goals of connecting people make any sense for a business? Will I ever sleep again and not wake up wondering if there will be money to pay bills? Who knows! But I do see it happening and building which is amazing and exciting.
2. Our suppliers are amazing - I should probably write a book about odd, hilarious and somewhat creepy stories that only happen with people who are truly invested in what they do. When opening a small business, you hear about the joy of being your own boss (slightly overrated because the buck stops here!) and the opportunity to set your own schedule (what a crock!!!). But what I never heard was about getting to know people who are working just as hard as you are to do something they truly believe and creating amazing relationships built on sweat and grit and lifting each other up. It is pure joy to work with these people and celebrate the little milestones.
3. Experiencing life more intentionally than ever before - When I was a stay at home mom, there were so many (soooo, soooo many) hours spent with my kids. One of my biggest fears of going back to work was not wanting to look back and regret not being around. Thankfully I've been able to go back to work in baby steps and have seen the kids do just fine without me so there is no mom guilt about working tons now. BUT the coolest thing is that in between the work and juggling and sports and life in general, I appreciate the smaller bits of time. I am so grateful for those Saturday mornings when everyone gets up and just sits on the couch, turning into snuggle battles and very odd conversations. Friendships, I'm finding are the same way. There aren't endless hours to sit and have coffee but I am so present and so grateful for those times that do get fit in. I'm not saying you should open a small business to learn how to live but I am grateful that in this season of life, it is a beautiful opportunity to grow into.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for journeying with us. Our family has learned so much this year. The kids watch the business grow, they see a woman owned business work and think nothing of it, and they come in for some good old fashioned work! My husband and I are learning how to do this together, learning what knowledge and strengths we have to complement each other to get this done. And I am learning how to follow the open doors instead of banging on them hoping they will open. I'm learning patience (hate this one). And how to be grateful, restful, and intentional through life.