Happy New Year and Hello January.
This is the numbers crunch month of small business. As I have been compiling bottom lines and receipts, for our antiques store/ e-commerce business, I have been thinking about how glamorous it is to own your own small business. Now don’t get me wrong this is not a complaint it’s more a view inside the everyday of my work world.
I have talked to thousands of people, in my 27 years behind the counter of our mom and pop store, and many have been fascinated with owning and running a small business. You know, being independant , no boss, no one elses rules, free to see their hard work add up for them and not someone else. Yeah, me too! That is essentially how it all began. My husband and I worked for a large corporation and were successful in our own fields , working hard , being focused and dedicated , doing our best work . But in the end it was only for a paycheck , there was no reward beyond the occasional pat on the back.
The single most consistant comment we get from our customers is ” It must be so interesting and exciting to be an antique dealer .” The answer is more than a yes or no here. Yes it is interesting and yes there are days that it is exciting but it’s more than that. It is rewarding, wearying, happy, difficult, freeing, stressful, insightful, meaningful, important and exhausting . Some days all at once.
To own and operate your own small business you have to have a good work ethic because there is no paid sick days or vacations . If you advertise Monday through Friday guess what, you are there Monday through Friday. Now we have had to close the store a couple of times in 27 years. I remember 2 funerals and a family flu but mostly it was one or the other of us standing behind the counter, tissue box close by .
I have to laugh at times when I am cleaning in the store, whether it’s vacuuming , dusting or pulling apart an area to do an overhaul , when I think of my Vintage Clothing customers who wonder why I don’t wear something fun and frilly to work everyday . I know we saw June Cleaver doing housework on TV in her impeccable cotton print dress with the perfect pleats and crisp collar, but I’m sure the only thing I would accomplish in that outfit is being a hostess at the door.
Another idea my customers find fascinating and exciting is ” where all this stuff comes from”. This is where we actually have something in common with American Pickers . We ( well really mostly my husband) are in dustly attics, dirty garages, rickety barns, damp cellars and cold houses searching for some buried treasure that will make the time spent worth while. Now I wish my husband and I had kept a notebook of all these buying adventures . That would be a best seller for sure. When I drive with my husband he is always pointing out a house he has been in, a barn he has climbed the loft of or a garage he has hauled stuff out of . They all usually have a unique story along with the location some funny , some sad. Again just another day in this little business.
I could go on for pages like this but let me tell you what I love most about our little business. I work everyday with my best friend ( we are still married after 30 years, too), we have raised our only child here ( no daycare or sitters), my dog comes to work with me everyday ( she is my 3rd dog here in the store), and I have made lifelong friendships with people who were always destined to be more than customers. I have met famous people and people who were so humble that it wasn’t until I read their obituaries that I saw what amazing and accomplished lives they have had. This little business has offered us a quality of life that has been priceless. We are not monetarily wealthy, by any means, but we are rich in personal experiences and realtionships that just getting a paycheck would never have offered.