It's a new week here at Auburn, and I must say that my heart is overflowing with love for you all, dear Auburn Family. What an outpouring of love, support and community! I am truly overwhelmed and grateful!
I remember writing the poem below when the 'Journey of Construction' first began:
Ode to a Construction Sign
O, sign with letters black and red
Why dost thou fill this girl with dread?
A message of caution for all to know,
foreshadowing many months of woe!
Yet- wait! Behold! A gleaming light!
Just down a few blocks and to the right,
A lovely store with lights aglow
Is open for business and won't let things slow.
The words may say "closed" but please, fear not,
The crews have found a special spot
For you, dear Clients, young and old
Auburn remains open-brave and bold!
Despite my humourous 'ode'- it has been a trying time-in some ways, much more difficult that I anticipated...but we're on the homeward stretch.
Words really can't express my gratitude to all the beautiful souls who came into the store last week. The words of encouragement, positive thoughts and hugs of friendship were incredible. It felt so warm and happy in the store! (I have a sneaky suspicion my vintage dresses may have come alive to celebrate on their own after-hours as well!).
Keep talking- keep supporting the dear little shops in your area. You'll meet new people, support your neighbours and, like my clients, help the small business owners survive that which is beyond their control. Every little bit counts. As I have said from the beginning- I consider it a successful day if even one person walks into my shop. Thanks to you all- perhaps there will be many, many more days to come for this Vintage Girl and her dream.
My dear little vintage bell danced away last weekend...Tinkerbell and I thank you!
As another summer comes to a close, I can safely say that this has been a year of challenges for my darling little shop.
On the first day of January, I found an envelope under the door with a letter from the Region of Waterloo detailing the construction that would occur from April- November 2017. This was the beginning of a very interesting journey for me as both a business owner and member of the community.
I decided that I would work hard on my website- something I personally find challenging- as I am far more of a 'face-to face' businessperson that an online seller. I diligently built up my social media platforms, added products to my website and remained positive and upbeat that this little 'distraction' wouldn't get me down. I have had private parties, courses and special sales events in the store and participated in selling events outside the store. It still isn't enough.
As 'phase 3' of the construction in Conestogo is set to begin within the next few weeks- I find myself completely troubled for my business and the future of Auburn. Days have gone by and I am in the store alone; the lovely tinkling of the vintage door bell never dancing away like it once did. Much like the story of Tinkerbell and if you don't believe in fairies....they'll die...this is how I feel about what construction can do to small business. And I am starting not to believe.
I never truly understood what people were talking about when they discussed how construction killed busines. I often got frustrated and annoyed by the negative attitudes and that if they just stopped complaining- it would get better. When faced with the challenges of this construction, I was determined not to be one of the annoying glass-half-empty grumpies...I was going to be just fine. I have a tendency to accept things and fade out into the woodwork without making a fuss.
The truth is: I am not fine. I am scared and worried about the future for me and my store. I hold it in through the day, and at night try to think up other methods of making my month's rent...forget about paying myself. I have been told how irritating store owners can be to the crews who run the construction sites with their negavity- and only at the very beginning of this process did I receive a visit from the Regional representatives. The fact is: They still get a paycheque at the end of the day- they really don't care what happens to me. There has been no evidence whatsoever that our stores matter to the people who make the decisions to close roads for months and months on end.
What can I do? Come to work each day and do the best I can to sell the best quality and service to my dedicated, amazing clients- most of whom I now consider dear friends. Another option is to share this experience in the best way I know possible- through the power of words- a method of sharing my experience and to spread the word that this process for making these decisions needs to change. I was never asked how this would affect me...I was told what was going to happen. Have I been compensated? Not one bit. Not even a "How can we help you?" from the Region. Again- a direct message that they don't care.
Having ranted long enough- I would like to say a big thank you to my dear Clients for their support, other businesses who have reached out with a kind word and deed, my incredibly kind Landlords who have offered words of encouragement and who also did not deserve this treatment and to my amazing friends and family who have believed in me and this dream of inspiring others and serving them in this little shop called Auburn.
Please share this with those you think may benefit by reading it. Sometimes it helps to speak out.
Hello dear Vintage Kindred Spirits!
It's a beautiful sunshiny day, and I've been thinking about all the fun gatherings that take place in the warm summer months. It's a time to celebrate and gather together- and is by far the most sociable season.
Are you looking for a venue for a fun evening or afternoon with friends? Look no further, because Auburn is the place to be!
Since opening the store, I've hosted many private gatherings that include a tailor-made fashion show for guests. Themes have included fun ideas such as 'Vintage Sparkle', 'How to Incorporate Vintage into your Everyday Wardrobe', 'A Walk Down Memory Lane' and 'Vintage Bridal'. Whatever your interest, we can suit your needs! Plus, shopping Vintage is a great way to save the world; it's eco-friendly and lessens the load of sending tons of clothing to landfills.
If any of the above interests you and your friends/family- a private party at Auburn is for you! It's relatively no work for you either! All you need to do is invite anywhere between 5-20 people, bring fold-up chairs and your own munchies. The fee: Free!
A typical evening consists of a fashion show complete with commentary and question/answer time, followed by a chance for you and your guests to shop. The store is all yours to have fun, visit and try some vintage beauties on.
I've hosted close to a dozen parties to-date, and each one has been a hit!
If you have any questions or would like to book a Vintage Gathering, please call me at 226-791-0522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks again to all of you for the support through the construction process...you warm my heart!
I mopped the floors of the shop this morning with a heavy heart, as the construction dust seems to seep through the doors, windows and walls like a silent plague. It's strange- as the door has not opened much this week.
I felt the sadness descend- and, with it, if I am to be completely honest- anger. As I lovingly care for my beloved store, one that I have tended to with passion and heart, it feels like the odds are against me. I'm not awfulizing- I'm being honest about the state of mind that so often happens to small business owners when their livelihood is amidst the chaos of construction.
Right now, the loneliness that I have often read about in the newspaper in regard to this process makes complete sense. It seems like nobody out there working or putting up the (completely ineffective) signage understands that it seems overwhelming to us and our beloved Clients.
As a long weekend approaches, and I diligently come in to a store that may not see anyone because of the signs and equipment surrounding the store, I think of all the other businesses who have gone through this and my heart goes out to you all. I am not ashamed to have the emotions I am experiencing....nor should you.
Again-I am so grateful to the Clients who push through the daunting barricades and make it through to the store. Words cannot express my gratitude for your thoughtfulness. Thank you so very, very much!
I have chosen to take this time to work on the website, take photos and run events- yet I miss the in and out of customers popping in to say hello- in essence, I miss my community. I truly look forward to the big celebration we can have when this is all over!
Auburn has now been among the tampers and excavators for a month, and as I write this the rain is pouring down for the third day in a row.
Where rain can play havoc on many events and business ventures, it certainly takes the biggest toll on construction sites. As much as the upheaval of construction is sometimes a bit much for my business, I can see how frustrating it can be for a crew to complete their work when the heavens open for days on end. It can't be easy.
This morning as I gazed out at the puddles and deep craters in the road in front of the store, I decided to grace the front of the store with one of the most elegant wedding gowns I've carried in the store since opening. This piece is reminiscent of the gown Jackie Bouvier wore when she wed JFK in 1953. Since it came into the store- I haven't been able to stop staring at it...so why not share it with everyone who steps into the store?
I encourage you all to find the beauty in everything around you- particularly the people in your life. Give them a reason to smile by lighting a candle to sit by as you drink tea together, add flowers to your kitchen table so your friends and family have some colour to inspire them at the beginning and end of their day or wear your favourite vintage gown to do the housework (yes-I have done this!). Be happy! Inspire!
I'm off to stock the store with more beautiful things! My next challenge is to find a pair of vintage Wellington Boots to pair with the gown!
Well, it's the end of our second week amidst the excavators and shovels, and it's been an interesting adventure!
First of all, a big thanks to all who have come out to the store. Your patience and good humour is much appreciated! You're amazing!
Secondly, please make note that there will always be access to the store- the detour doesn't pertain to those frequenting local businesses. The great crew working will direct you as to where the best route to take to the store is as well as where to park.
Most importantly, we have changed our hours to better serve our dear Auburn Family. In addition to our Tuesday to Saturday hours of 11am-5pm, we will also be open on Sundays from 11am-3pm.
This has been a difficult decision, as Sunday is our Family Day- however, after much deliberation, we as a family decided that during the construction it is necessary to have 2 days open when no work on the road is taking place.
Again, as always, please do not hesitate to call or email if you have any questions during this time. Also- we would be happy to book an appointment for private shopping sessions or group visits! This can be a great way to have fun, learn about vintage apparel and have one-on-one time with us!
It's a rainy, thundery day here in Conestogo- but our spirits are high and Nat King Cole is crooning in the background (specifically 'Smile'- so how could one possibly not feel compelled to do simply that?!).
Our first week and a half of construction has been a very interesting adventure for this Vintage Girl. Here is a list of what I've learned so far:
-Coming to work is a little like a "Choose Your Own Adventure". There is always a way to get to the store, you simply have to brave the construction crew or take a side-road...every day is a bit different depending on what the crew is working on at that particular moment.
-Proper footwear is important. I made the mistake of wearing white shoes to work the first day of construction (I defy all 'rules' that white should only be worn in certain seasons). Yes- WHITE. With heels. Talk about looking like Bambi on ice as I walked across the torn up street- thank goodness it wasn't raining!
-Chandeliers sway. No-I wasn't re-mounting a production of 'The Phantom of the Opera'. On a day where there was significant 'tampering' going on outside, I looked up to see my heirloom treasures dancing away. But- fear not! They are still intact and disaster was averted.
-I have the best Customers- ever! So many folks have been wonderfully supportive and keen to help as they can. Honestly, a kind word, offer to pass along photos or telling friends about the store is so appreciated. I feel honoured to be here everyday, bringing some beautiful pieces to people's lives.
Has business slowed down? Yes. Am I still worried? Yes. However, I am positive that this, too, is another learning curve for me. I've already started wearing my Wellingtons to work....I'm just working on 'Vintage-ing Up'my hard hat.
More to come...