The Sounds Of Change.
I have a thing for sounds. I think most people do but, I in particular, am highly sensitive to them and have been able to associate memories with certain sounds. Recently, I was listening to the gleeful yells of small children at the playground and was taken back to the sheer delight summer would bring to me as a youth at the park near my childhood home in Toronto. With little to do over the holidays, it became a meeting spot that didn’t charge admission and always guaranteed an ice cream truck.
I mention this because I have been hearing crickets as I close my windows at night, which means fall is around the corner. With September upon us, we feel change. Change in the atmosphere as well as our mindset with a natural innate desire to plan and prepare for cooler weather and, for some of us, good-byes to family and friends as they begin anew. Last year at this time, I made the decision to move back into the bricks full time, knowing sales were low and inventory was high, I was forced, sadly, to discount much of my product in order to cover back rent and unpaid bills. It was humbling really, to swallow my pride and do what had to be done to move forward to what my vision truly was for the business. On so many levels I felt defeated, yet, I thought of my customers, those who I hadn't seen in months and possibly some new ones, and it made it more palatable.
This year with the same sounds in the air, I am full-time online and hugely missing the face to face interaction in the shop. Summer has been slow, (as it was in the bricks) and like a school kid, I relish the thought of beginning again in September. The difference is, it will not be in a physical space and honestly, I don't miss the crazy pace retail kept me at. It begs the question though, how can "former bricks businesses" derive the same satisfaction selling without the heartache of carrying the heavy cost of lease agreements? The short of it is, they can't! We post-brick folks have to accept who we are knowing we will always experience this sense of loss as seasons change. How should we then face what we know will arrive without becoming despondent about it? My best advice is to make a plan. It seems simplistic yet, plans give hope and allow for a sense of moving forward.
For myself this fall, I have decided to do a few different things according to my skill set. I will be focused on building the marketing aspect of our local artists program. The program has been in place for months but, my efforts have been limited. I was reaffirmed recently after having a great interview with a very talented artist. We both shared our frustrations as well as victories in this ever changing retail climate. Whether I market and sell his work or not remains to be seen but, this exchange was edifying and encouraging (I think) for both of us. I have also decided to volunteer to teach a small group, something that just happened to come up last spring, and look forward to an opportunity to utilize an entirely different skill set. Finally, as much as I have an incredible tech team (aka my son), I know the time has come to delve deeper into running a web site on our platform. (Trepidation especially surrounds this one.....deep breath!)
These three things fill me with a certain anticipation this fall, maybe even some excitement about the future. Further, I realize those sounds are always with me, my memories, my inspirations. They come from a very deep place, one which each one of us has but one that we so often refuse to tap into. It isn't a coincidence that many high ranking business people boast of a favourite past-time that inspires and provides balance to what they do for a living. Many share a hidden talent as musicians or maintain a spot in amateur theatre. That ability to dig down deep and discover what that may be, is hugely important to sustaining ourselves as well as moving forward as small business owners. Whether a family dream or a memory of hanging out at the shop you loved most (I used to love the card aisles in shops and spent hours reading every single one of them), you must not toss this aside, its part of who you are.
While the crickets continue and the sweet sounds of summer fade, don't let the change or the limitations you are facing this season inhibit you from that plan and if you ever need a second opinion, you know where to find me.
"If you are pleased with what you are, you have stopped already. If you say, "It is enough", you are lost. Keep on walking, moving forward, trying for the goal". (St. Augustine)