Friday, November 30, 2012

The Chicken or the Egg?

There is a good reason that I have not posted a blog in a few days.  I have been writing, just not editing enough to let the public see. I write when I have thoughts and then go back and fix it!

Most of my readers know that while closing the store, I have been working on organizing events in the mall. This has given me something positive to focus on.

Somewhere along the way I have made it my personal and professional mission to figure out how to drive traffic to Northville Square. At first it was for my own business but once I saw the handwriting on the wall about my concept I started thinking bigger!

I set up and started working on the facebook pages and email groups for the tenants to send me information on their businesses. It's like pulling teeth to get tenants to participate. Why do you think that is?

I sent out emails, scheduled tenant meetings, encouraged tenants to set up tables/booths during high traffic events with very little effectiveness. I have asked myself over and over, if it's my delivery or are they too busy? I even extended the offer to businesses outside of the building in town to participate in events and NOT ONE had any interest?

What I find is that even in this small town everyone has their own agenda on the purpose of their business. Most do not care to get involved!

It drives me CRAZY!

My naive innocence is determined, so I came up with "Children's Marketplace"Michigan's 1st market dedicated to goods and services with children in mind.

I thought that Moms with young children would like a place to stop for a couple of hours and find resources for their families! I scheduled FREE presentations, entertainment and activities for the children. I worked with Bricks to offer kid friendly items. Spent hours in the middle of the night soliciting vendors on the internet and talking to Northville businesses by email and in person.

The Northville Record wrote a story, Patch wrote a story, I sent it to all of the news stations and the Detroit News, Posted it on websites under events with newspapers and Metro Parent. I even joined Mom groups to let them know about it!  By the way, The "Northville Working Moms" group declined my request to become a member. My children were too old and they didn't need help finding things to do! Shame on them.

I peddled flyers at childcare centers, churches, schools, libraries as well as all of the businesses downtown Northville and Novi.

God Bless the people who came aboard!  There are about 20 people who saw the vision on the idea! They dragged their wares and staff in here for 8 weeks.

Nobody came! Sadly, the Moms who did come thought it had great potential. But how can I expect vendors to pay to be here if we can't get people to come?

The worst part for me, was that two tenants complained about the noise or the clientele not being "Their customer"!

As you can see, even good intentions don't work for me...

But I won't give up. Why? Because there are more people who do see the value in the effort who have stepped forward to let me know that they appreciate it and are inspired...

This keeps me going!

Next: Build it and they will come. But what kind of experience will they have when they get here?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Be my Guest!

The Cosmopolitan Collection - Jenna David 

It really is comical when I look back at all of the things that I tried to drive traffic to Hearts of Inspiration. Because resources and funds were slim I had to be creative about getting new merchandise to replace the little merchandise I did sell. It was a big place to keep stocked up!

I learned from other merchants in town that they had some success with guest vendors during events. So I thought I would post an invitation on facebook and see what happens. It was an opportunity for people to sell merchandise or services with no obligation except for mentioning it on facebook, emails or whatever method they use for marketing. I thought that it would be a great way of networking. Seemed like a win-win!

Here is a list of the vendors that I hosted over the course of a year.

Jenna David - I think Bonnie did ok that night but, her contacts helped me have my best night ever!

Pop Up Knitting - It gave Terri some ideas and it turned into tea on Tuesdays for us. We are now really good friends.

Lizzy Designs - She came one night and left her hair accessories on consignment. I called her to pick them up when I moved in June and she never came or called.

My Little Dreams - Hair accessories. I still see her around with her beautiful girls. She is now a photographer!

Cake Pop Couture - Nothing, never heard from her again though I have invited her. She was very kind and provided cake pops for the "Free" Tea Party. If you ever need cake pops, look her up on facebook.
They are beautiful and delicious!

Stuffettes - Wedding and decor pillows, Wine Jackets and Hair Accessories. Lee came a few times but I never heard from her again.

Westpointe Designs - I loved this girl she was tall and beautiful and very humble. She did repurpose and upcycled really cool earrings. They were only $10 but couldn't sell one pair in Northville.

My friends Maria and Angie who sell bracelets imported from Greece. They had a beautiful display and sold a few pieces but not nearly what they sell at home parties???  They were very gracious and gave me a scarf and bracelet as a thank you!

My Jenny Lou - Women and children's apparel and tote bags.

Your Botanicals - Homegrown, organic skincare. Lauren came a few times and left her items at the store to promote the line. About 3 months later, she called me on the phone and said that she was on her way to Texas, permanently and I could do whatever I saw fit with her samples!

One of my favorites, Designs by Flo. A sweet lady who has been cutting her own wood and making christmas ornaments and holiday decor for 25 years. Flo and her husband came up from retirement in Florida to be with their son and grandchildren. They had all of their inventory left and didn't want to
be in the business anymore so they set it up a couple of times sold a few pieces then left some with me on consignment. Some was a little outdated but people loved the story and the prices. We both did pretty good on it. Nice people!

Mary Kay, Shaklee, Stella and Dot and Thirty One Gifts were here too!

Last year on Girl's Night I thought I would try a DJ! The idea was that he would draw the ladies down to party with us at Hearts of Inspiration. When he started playing music I asked him when he was going
to start taking requests or talking and he says: "What do you mean, You want me to talk? I didn't rehearse anything!"  Biggest waste of $300 I have ever spent! There went my sales for the night.

Overall, nobody did much business during the events. I have to say though, it was like a party and they were my guests. It made me happy just to have them around!

Next: It's all about the kids!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cookies and Milk

Carol's personality and appearance does not represent a musician at all. (don't judge Tracey) but when she plays the guitar I get goosebumps and tears! After hearing her play I couldn't understand why she wasn't busy with bookings. So much talent! I thought I would help her do some marketing and get her some gigs.

I encouraged her to come up with a price sheet and some business cards, only she didn't have access to 
a computer and printer. So, I did it for her. Then I helped her formulate a marketing plan to go out and get some business.

In the interim I decided to create an event at Hearts called "Cookies and Milk". Moms and toddlers would come and pay $6.00 for an hour of music, story time and of course cookies and milk. $3.00 of the price would be donated to Beaumont Hospital for the "Heart Screening" program for youth heart screening to detect heart defects. (More on that later).

I posted it on facebook, made flyers and handed them out to the merchants, posted them anywhere they would allow, uploaded the flyer on Patch, Metro Parent and sent it in to the Northville Record for the calendar. You'll see that this was the normal course of action for promoting events at Hearts of Inspiration.

The first two were a bust, but I didn't give up. The third one was great, we had about six or seven children. It was a blast! The little ones really enjoyed the songs Carol played with cute little finger plays.

The event was never a break even with food and paying the Music Lady. I considered it another
form of advertising and hoped that would eventually result in a party or class. We averaged five or six kids for a while and in the process I made new friends with some great families who live in downtown Northville. We continued the event for  a while but when it was time for school, schedules changed and the event fell apart.

In total, we raised $84 for Beaumont. I was embarrassed but decided to have another fundraiser later by selling used books. I did the same promoting as always, plus set up a display inside and outside the store. Well, let's just say that I ended up donating the books to the library.

Very discouraged, I didn't understand how it was possible to be ineffective at this even when it's for the greater good! 

Carol was great! she would come every week before the event to warm up and practice. She would spend time before each show putting together activities that she thought the kids would enjoy. She was adamant that there was some educational value.

Carol was not exactly full of excitement in fact, at times I would have to act goofy for the kids because she would lose their attention from time to time. I didn't mind though. I like to get into the act and really admire people who entertain.

At the end of each event when I would pay her it brought her to tears. She was so thankful to be given the opportunity to play her guitar that she would often bring me gifts! I made it a point to reciprocate which would often fluster her. You see, she had nobody to do nice things for her. She and her mother live in tiny apartment where they have lived since Carol's Dad passed away. He was a writer for a prominent economic publication. I understand that he was brilliant but had been very vocal about China and the effect on the US economy. He was eventually blacklisted and terminated from his job, a career that he was very dedicated to. Soon after, he took his own life. Carol took her father's death very hard which caused emotional and social problems for her.  She is kind and very loyal but lacks skills that make her employable.

Carol's moments of happiness with me have made me realize there was some success after all!

Next: Be my guest

Practice what you preach!

I know I spend a lot of time pointing out disappointments. In my personal world I try not to waste precious time on negativity. However, recounting these things is a learning opportunity for all of us.

Does it make me bitter? Oh, I am angry, but as with other negativity in my life I try to figure out what makes people behave a certain way. Most of the time I can analyze it down to a point where I actually can empathize with people when they're shallow, selfish or self absorbed. More often it is the latter.

What I hope happens is that people see the message that we need to be aware of how our actions affect others and inspire them to be helpful and kind by doing the right thing consciously everyday. Not just when asked to.

Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where people realize that they're not the only one living in it?

Being helpful and kind doesn't always require writing a check or even going out of your way. Sometimes it just means thinking before you act.

Helping others shouldn't be calculated by what's in it for me. Helping others doesn't need to be written in the paper to let everyone know.

I won't attempt to make you think that I am martyr or Jesus Christ. But it is how I live my life. It does seem that a lot of the time the nice guy finishes last. There are many things that I attempt to be helpful and I look for opportunities, just trying to get some LOVE!

But I do practice what I preach, not always with great results but still...

When the coffee shop was about to close I got visits from two ladies who worked there. One a palm reader and the other a music lady. Both were unemployed looking to make a little money. I felt compelled to help them out.

Vijaya, (yes, that is her name) the palm reader, also makes jewelry. Having her here was a bit like having a child around but I did my best. Not only did she ask me to give her a table, tablecloth and chair, she wanted me to move it around for her, precisely where she liked it. She asked me to put her hand written brochures and cards on my window and I did. When she asked about her jewelry. I told her I would give her an area in the window. But she needed display racks and price tags so, I helped her with that and put together a nice little display. She would come by weekly and ask if I had any money for her! After a few months it wasn't worth her driving from Ann Arbor so I packed up her things and I never saw her again. She never thanked me for the opportunity!

The Music Lady was altogether different!

You'll get to meet her coming up next in: Cookies and Milk


Saturday, November 24, 2012

If not them, WHO?

The questions the "website guy" asks are important.  How will you know when your business is successful? I never had a vision of getting rich and opening 10 stores! I saw the concept as good for the
community.  My vision was for Hearts to be a place where kids would want to come on a regular basis where they could be creative and learn about things that would build confidence and a sense of self- awareness.

I believe that when you focus on learning how to get a long in this world  you're less likely to be bullied or to be a bully!

Speaking of education, two of the biggest let downs during my time here have come from events related to education that were hosted right outside of the doors of Hearts of Inspiration.

In case you don't know, You can rent out space in Northville Square for events. Fundraisers, Parties, Showers etc...

The first one was when a school board member was leaving and they organized a "Going Away" party for her. It was a big deal. Anyone who was involved in the school district would be there. I thought the exposure would be invaluable. Surely educators would see the value and pass along the message. Teachers have alway been big fans of the idea!

The area outside the store was set up like a hall. While they were setting up I figured some of them would wander in and since it was a Friday, I didn't mind staying open just in case. I know that their focus was the event, but when they put the crowd control rope up that stopped people from coming to the end of the mall while I was still open for the day, that is when I got the message. Well, I would leave my brochures on "Manners" out so they could read about it. But then one of the organizers suggested that I turn the lights off because they were trying to create ambience for the party...

The other event happened to be organized by some people that I know personally. Even better I thought. They would be sensitive and supportive! They started setting up around 3:00 in the afternoon.
I thought there might be some value in staying open.

Then they set the display tables for auction items literally in front of my store windows and again made
the area unaccessible to the public, I was done! The best part was when one of the organizers asked me
where they could tap into a phone line for their credit card machine? Do you think we can run a phone
cord to your phone line to process credit cards? Of course.  Glad I can help...

As a thank you, he offered two tickets to the fundraising event two hours later.

I read that the event was very successful in raising a lot of money for the new turf for the football field!

Next: Practice what you preach!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving or Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it brings people together to share a meal.

I love the fact that it's not about gifts. The only gifts that are exchanged are the gifts of friendship, love and gratitude!

I always share a poem or prayer with our family and friends on Thanksgiving.

They think I'm hokey because I like to sit at the table and share the things that I am most thankful for in my life and ask everyone to do the same! Then we take turns sharing our blessings which brings on the laughter and the tears. 

Whatever your tradition is, I hope it includes a prayer that gives thanks for the blessings in your life Big and Small.

This year why not start a new tradition and ask your family and guests if they would like to share something that they are thankful for in the form of a prayer, a poem or a personal story about "Thanksgiving or Giving Thanks"?

Here's a prayer that I love!

Dear God,
I give thanks for all the amazing gifts you have blessed me with in this life. Thank you for the clouds in the sky and the grass beneath my feet. Thank you for the roof over my head that shelters me from the cold and the food in my stomach that nourishes my body. Thank you for the clothes on my back and the knowledge in my head. Most of all God thank you for your everlasting love, guidance, and understanding. Thank you dear God, thank you.

I hope that your Thanksgiving is blessed with love and gratitude and it is shared with others.

Happy "Giving Thanks" Day!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Friday Shopping Manners

Ready, Set, Shop!
As you head out for the madness on "Black Friday" don't forget your credit cards, extra dose of patience and last but not least, your manners!

I always tell my young students to "be polite and use good manners even when others do not".

Here is a list of the top manners to keep in mind while on the hunt on Black Friday!
  1. I know you're in a hurry to get those great deals but,  please use your turn signals and obey traffic signs and rules on the way to the mall. When it says: "Not turn on Red" that means you too! Don't play follow the leader just because the person in front of you thinks he's "Special".
  2. Yellow lights do not mean "Go like hell"!
  3. Don't get into a scuffle when someone takes your parking spot. A nice brisk walk will do you good after all of that turkey and stuffing!
  4. If you get "Hot under the collar" easily, leave your coat in the car and stick to decaf for your morning cup of joe.
  5. If your kids don't tolerate large crowds and waiting in lines very well, consider a babysitter for their sake and your sanity as well as the other shoppers.
  6. Consider holding the door or allowing people who are leaving with packages to exit before you enter.
  7. Be sure to be pleasant, smile and say please and thank you to the customer service people, their day will be much more stressful than yours! 
  8. When sales people or other shoppers are less considerate or even rude, count to 10, take a breath and say "Happy Holiday"!
  9. If you need to take a break and sit down in one of the comfy chairs in the mall, Please don't use the extra chair for your packages, leave it open for another weary shopper to rest.
  10. If you decide not to purchase something in your hand consider putting it back where you got it because as you can see by the piles of "Go Backs" others will not!
  11. Save your cell phone calls for common areas or in the parking lot in the privacy of your car and not while you're in line or having lunch in a busy restaurant with people waiting for a seat. It's really exciting that you got 1/2 off on the gift for your daughter but trust me, nobody within 20 feet of you will be as excited as you!
  12. Be considerate of people waiting in line, in the event that you "Just Have a Question".  Try to find a sales person on the floor instead of walking up to the counter while another customer is making a purchase. 
Whether you're a lone shopper on a mission or making a day of it with your friends or family members
remember to smile, be polite and have fun!

Happy Shopping!


Free Press

Looking back I have to say the editors and reporters from Patch and the Northville Record have been wonderful to me! Nancy Kelsey, Susanne Spruit and Jeff Moore from Patch have been very supportive. Jeff wrote a great profile article and captured the essence of the vision for the concept on the classes. Susanne came out and gave me a lesson on how to navigate patch. Nancy Kelsey showed up for most events I invited her to. Camera in hand!

Cal Stone from the Record was great about getting events on the calendar and printing my Thanksgiving piece as a guest writer last year!  Lonnie Huhmann and Julie Brown did a great job on articles featuring the classes and Children's Marketplace. (Yes, I did another free event that wasn't effective).

All of the Free Press did help get the name of the business and the concept out there. I know because so many people who stopped by
to check it out would tell me they read about it!

In addition, many of the classes booked came from referrals from Moms whose daughters had taken a class or been a guest at a Birthday Party. The nicest compliment you can receive is when someone tells you that they heard about you from a friend.

I am very grateful for the kindness and the effort that these nice people have shown. I believe that any success I had has come from people who believe in the message and gave me an opportunity!

I thought the more people who knew, the more people would see the value and book a class or party. Some did!

Facebook has been and is an invaluable tool. If you're not using it for your business on a regular basis you're missing out! Blogging is also a much underrated tool for business. If you're like me and have a lot to say about your product or service you should be sharing it!

When all is said and done, what I have learned is that there isn't much demand for "Manners and Etiquette" classes.

Should I forget about it and move on?

No, it's too important to our children's future!

I WILL find another way to help people see the value in learning how to set a proper table, how to order from a server, actually using a napkin, how to sit at the table, what NOT to talk about at the table.
Being considerate to people who are eating with you and around you and how to be a gracious guest.

How to greet and introduce people to one another, a proper handshake, write a thank you note, how to be courteous, helpful and kind to others, not just to people YOU like and people who are like YOU!

So, to the writers and editors as well as the Moms who have given Hearts of Inspiration FREE PRESS,

Thank You!

Next: Thanksgiving or Giving Thanks

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What is the value of free?

Hearts of Inspiration's Fairy "Courteous"

I knew it would take a while before people would get the concept. Boutique/Parties/Classes. Many times people would walk in the store and peek at the party/classroom, some would ask about it. I loved to invite them in because the reaction was always the same. "Oh my god this is beautiful"! I never got tired of hearing how beautiful it was.

Often people would comment on the fact that they didn't know it was there. That is a challenge all small businesses face because advertising is so expensive. Metro Parent would be a great place to advertise but ads the size of a business card are $395 per month with a minimum of 3 months, $1,200.00 was not in my budget.

Lots of ideas came my way, people recommended hosting a few free events to get people through the door. Ok. It is a form of advertising that targets my demographic. The first FREE event was a "Fairy Tea Party".  I hired a music lady, a fairy and a tea party caterer. Victoria from Victoria's Tea Salon was on board since she had just launched her business too! (I put her link at the below) Victoria does a beautiful job with presentation and her food is simply delicious. She brings the tea party to you!

I sent out 44 invitations to people I knew and some I didn't know personally, but they knew the other people that were invited. A tea party with food and entertainment. The invitation included Mom. What a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Only 4 little girls attended. One was already a good customer. One I would never see again since she was the niece of an advertising rep who lived in South Lyon. Emily however, was the daughter of a reporter from Patch. They have been in to visit many times since. She is a great kid with great parents!

The other little girl is the sister of my son's baseball teammate. After the tea party her Mom contacted me about a gentleman's etiquette class for the three travel baseball teams. Ironically, I had been working on a class and thought it was a great way for me to break into that market! I put a flyer together for a two hour class on etiquette tips for young men. All of the things that our husbands were taught when they were growing up. Tying a tie, ironing a shirt, opening the door for ladies and allowing her to walk in front, standing up when a lady leaves or arrives at the table, handshakes and eye contact, introductions and other social graces that are important to their future! The class was two hours and included dinner for $20 per person.

We tried for six weeks to work with schedules to get it done but in the end, out of 39 players not one parent saw the value in the class...

Where will they learn these skills?

I did go on to try other free events with similar results...


Monday, November 19, 2012

Glad I could Help

I started off by inviting you to come along with me as I try to answer the question which has more impact on life? Choice or Fate.

As I recount the journey of owning a business, I find myself leaning toward fate. I am still hopeful that making good choices will have an impact on fate but at this point feel like no matter what you do in life there is a greater plan that has nothing to do with following the rules, doing the right thing or common sense!

When I opened the doors at Hearts of Inspiration I thought that the other business people in town would come over to say hello and welcome me to the neighborhood since I have been a loyal downtown shopper for nearly 20 years! Isn't that what neighbors do?

Daily phone calls and visits from  credit card processors, publications and charitable organizations who want my business or donations from Hearts of Inspiration!

For the record,  Tracy who heads up the Northville High School Drama Club Program and Marketing, Lori who's involved in Kids 4 Afphgan,  Anita with Cristoph"s All Stars have been wonderful about supporting HOI and referring others!

Many of the tenants in the building came as well! Jan from CVMedia, Plymouth Physical therapy, Perfect Travel, GG boutique, Bodyfit all made it a point to stop by and introduce themselves. One of the owners from Pearaphanalia has stopped by a few times! My biggest fans have come from GG's and Mary Starring who is the best at putting people together!

My heart is full of love and support from my dear friend Marilyn from LimeLight Emporium.
She has been my light during the darkest days when I am ready to throw the towel in. Today is her Birthday, Happy Birthday my friend!

Don't get me started on RePurpose, Give me a break! Most of my store fixtures were purchased from Cari.  Heather, Justin, Andrea and Janet were friendly and helpful, but the only time I ever saw Cari or Vince was when I was burning up the credit card in their store. And I should be lucky to do that!

Ok. They don't know I'm here! So, I bag up cookies and business cards and have my daughter and friend bring them to the businesses to introduce Hearts of Inspiration. Great idea?

The only one response was from the florist. She made it a point to call me to tell me how cute my daughter was! An hour later her Mother is in the store checking me out and telling me how successful her business is. By the way, "Where did you get those beautiful table cloths?"Maybe she will bring her Grand daughter to my next tea party! A few hours later I get a phone call from her. She's going to reserve a seat at the tea party! No, she wants the name of the company I got the tablecloths from! Two weeks later I see the same tablecloths in her event room in a different color!

Glad I could help!

Next: What is the value of Free?


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Welcome to the Neighborhood!


Call it naive, call it sensitive. I call it looking for good in people. Believe that doing good is worth doing! But don't take it personal when other people don't get it.

In life as in business,  your own perception of how things should be versus how they really are can sometimes be very disappointing.  It is surprising to me how many things are exactly what I expected while others are not what I expected at all! Mostly having to do with people.

My first taste of this example is when I approached a company in town to work on a website and logo design. With past experience, I have learned how important it is to be able to communicate your vision. More important is that the company can translate that to the world!

I  know people in the business but felt that it was important to use a Northville business.

I did try to use the company in the same building, who came as a referral and his parents are neighbors. His response was that he didn't do that kind of work. Only, it is exactly the kind of work he did for the person who referred me to him. I find out that he had a great opportunity in California and moved there!

Couldn't you just be honest? 

Keep marching...

First I spoke to the owner by phone, I liked his demeanor. His approach is that he only takes on projects with a purpose. Perfect! He had me download a profile to fill out before our first meeting.  The questions were straight forward and I thought gave him a good glimpse into what the vision was for  Hearts of Inspiration. He included questions like "How will you measure success?" and "How will you know when your company is successful"?  Those are not easy questions for some but for me, music to my ears!

Then came our first meeting. While going over the answers on the profile I felt a connection and thought it was going very well in terms my goals and being a good match.

I complimented him and told him that I respected the fact that he only worked on projects that he felt were meaningful. It's important to be honest right?

We left our meeting with the idea that he would get back to me with a quote on price and a timeline. He seemed a little uncomfortable with my completion target. I wait a week don't hear back.  I leave a message. No call back. I send an email. A few days go by and I get an email back, "Sorry, have been busy out of town but will be working on it and get an answer in just a few days".  A few days later I send him a reminder and his email back was:

Dear Tracey, 

In reviewing the profile for your business I don't feel that _________ is a good fit. My project schedule is about 3 or 4 months out for this kind of work.

Good luck though! 

Tracey you better get your "Big Girl" panties on!

Next: "Let Me help You"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Glamour Factor

I chose Bette because well,  you can see why!

Every women dreams of owning a boutique! fashion, jewelry and handbags or are you the artsy type? Maybe you like to decorate. Can you visualize how it would look, feel and even smell?

Do you dream of greeting people, hosting trunk shows, fashion shows and wrapping packages with lovely ribbon and tissue paper? Making people happy?

It's all very glamorous but before you get there here's a just few things you'll need before you buy one piece of inventory:

Tax ID #                                              
Content and Liability Insurance          
Fixtures and Displays                          
Logo design                                          
Point of Sale computer system                                        
Price tags
Phone system                                        
Business Cards
Office Supplies                                                                              
Telephone/cable/internet service
Website/Facebook and other social media
Clothing steamer
Jewelry displays
Rent/security deposit

Now you can buy some inventory. Get your credit card ready, gone are the days of terms.

The risk is all on you, up front!

The good news is for bath and body, jewelry and decor it's in stock most of the time and it ships quickly. For apparel and furniture you might have to wait for production depending on when you place your orders.

You're almost there!

Open your doors and they'll come. Wishful thinking!

Two of the most important objectives:
How will you get them there?
How will you get them to buy?

I knew that having a boutique alone was very risky in the current economy.
I thought that the events would bring them there and the merchandise would
get them to buy. This would make up for slow everyday traffic.

I thought I had it covered. The concept was a pretty boutique filled with things for any girl in your life. Moms would drop off their girls for classes and parties and fall in love with something in the store. One would help the other. The fact is that most of the time Moms walked in and walked out without even looking at the merchandise! Out of over 70 events only a few resulted in sales.

The concept did not work!

Next: Welcome to the Neighborhood!

Friday, November 16, 2012

"The Coffee Shop"

The coffee shop at Northville Square was my favorite local coffee shop.  I Loved the atmosphere, the space and the coffee.
The owner had a good heart, always volunteering to help the greater good of the city and the community. She was involved in a lot and everyone seemed to like her.

I would roll my little metal cart down and she would have a full tea service for me. It was great!

Just before I opened I got very sick with pneumonia. Theresa would make me a special blend of tea and it would fix me up for hours! No doubt she had talent.

It's is very sad that things didn't work out for her since she had a great
regular customer base. All of the city workers from the police and fire
stations, the library, the post office and Ms. Harriets.
When she closed I noticed a huge difference in traffic.

If you've ever had the idea of opening your own coffee shop
this location is a great opportunity! I looked into it and you could make
your investment back in the 1st year. The space is built out with quality
design and materials. You would only need refrigeration, bakery case,
espresso makers, coffee makers and tables and chairs.
It is all up to code and ready to go!

Theresa actually sent me my 1st referral for a birthday party. Laura and her
sweet angel Ally! After Ally's party she and her friends came for Girls Club
where we made themed crafts, had a snack and a dance party every
Tuesday. It was a blast! They tell me that they still have the crafts we
made around their homes.

In addition Laura brought friends in to visit and soon I became friends
with the whole group.

They were my best support group all the way through.
In fact, they all made it a point to come out for my last tea party
last week as a special way to say good bye.

I am very blessed to have met such nice people!

Coming up next: "The Glamour Factor"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Good Friends are like stars

One day while on my way to work I stopped at Starbucks to get my daily vice. The barista had a beautiful bracelet on. When I asked where she got it she told me that she special ordered it from a local jewelry designer. Well, since I was in the market I asked if she would share the name of the company.
When she came back with her business card I looked at it and thought, that couldn't be the Bonnie I know.
She moved to California 15 years ago.

I called her about her line of jewelry and asked if she had a child
about 20 years old. She did. As it turns out, I sold her baby furniture when she was expecting her 1st baby! What a small world.  We have been friends since then. She stops by with her husband from time to time to catch up!

Another friend came by way of a cute story. As I was setting up the store
one day a lady came in with 3 busy blondes in tow. She came to sell me
advertising in the Piazza recital program. Her pitch was pretty good!
I thought it was great that she was doing her part, so I couldn't say no.
We have been friends since. Nancy has a great sense of humor and she
doesn't beat around the bush.Two qualities I admire.  She reads my sob
stories online and comes over to give me a hug or buy something!

And then there's Ann. If you spend any time in downtown Northville you
might have seen her on a walk about! Ann walks almost everyday in town.
As it turns out she is Nancy's mom! Ann is the classiest chick in Northville.
80 something, always wears makeup, hair done and the best dresser I know.
I love when Ann visits. She always shares her latest adventure or a great story
from the past. So much wisdom!

I treasure my friendship with these ladies and always look forward to their visits!

There are so many more friendships to tell you about later...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"The Sandwich Shop"

Oh... how do I say this nicely?

"Beware of wolves in a sheep's clothing"!

At first I came as a customer to test the food. The price of a sandwich was
high, $9.00 for a ham and cheese. Is this Manhattan? But it was delicious
and the owner was really nice.

I inquired about catering and the owner said it would be no problem since
he used to be a banquet manager. He could prepare anything!

We planned the first party with sandwiches, cookies and cupcakes.
It seemed pretty straight forward. We discussed a simple sugar cookie with
some sprinkles and mini cupcakes with pink frosting and a little decoration
on top.

In the interim, there were days that I would walk down to get some lunch
and find the sandwich shop closed for the day! Ok, he had some other things
going on and he was the only one working there. I can relate.
However, one of those days happened to be the day before my first party,
so I was unable to confirm with him. I was nervous to say the least.

The next day, the day of the party I kept peeking down to see if he would open.
Great, about 11:00 he opened up. So I ran down to talk to him and confirm
the order. I didn't see any sign that he had started baking and the party was at
1:00 pm! Right in the middle of his lunch rush.

Are you ready for this?

I came down at the time we agreed on to pick the order only to see him
putting pink cupcakes from a plastic container on a baking tray.
The container was from MEIJER! The cookies were those Lofthouse
frosted cookies that you can buy in every grocery store in Michigan!

Did I miss something here? He told me he was baking them and he of course
upcharged me for putting them on the baking tray!

How special for my very first party!

Soon after that he announced that he was closing. Another one down.

Well, at least there was the coffee shop...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Sandwich Shop, The Baker and The Coffee Shop

This next part is true, I swear! If I had not gone through this I wouldn't
believe it,  but it happened.

First, in doing my research on manners and etiquette classes I found that there were only a few places who offered classes in Michigan.

Not a lot of competition for me to worry about. Not so fast, Tracey....

I get a call from a friend who asks if I knew about the ballet teacher
at  Ms. Harriet's located in my SAME BUILDING who teaches manners and
etiquette classes? Really?

So, I checked it out. It seems that though it is not part of the dance studio
the teacher in fact teaches classes on her own, but would not be offering
classes anymore!  Whew... Or just wouldn't be promoting it?

Next, since my beautiful space had no kitchen I had the project of finding food
and beverage people for parties. Alas! There is a coffee shop, a bakery and
a sandwich shop in the same building! This would be a win/win.
So, I started off to talk to each business owner.

First the baker, BAM! And I quote. "I wouldn't do business here"
He swore and carried on about all of the reasons why his business
not working. He's a trained pastry chef from the Ritz and people
want cupcakes? But yeah, he would make cookies and cupcakes
since I was going to be a neighbor.  Well! Aren't I special?

As a trial, I asked if he could make up a tray of assorted cookies for a
book club (another story).  I needed 3 dozen cookies. Nothing fancy,
and I would bring a pretty tray for him to put them on. I go to pick up the
tray of cookies and it's all desserts. Not just desserts, fancy desserts that
need to be eaten with a fork! I had napkins because, I ordered cookies.
And the best part? He only charged me $75.00,  for the 3 dozen cookies
that I ordered for a book club that nobody showed up for! Swell.

BTW, the desserts were delicious. We made up trays and brought them
to our neighbors!

Soon after that the baker is outside on the sidewalk yelling and
carrying on and the next thing you know, the baker is gone.


Well, there was still the coffee shop and sandwich shop....

Monday, November 12, 2012

Location, Location, Location

Back in the 90s Northville Square was MAGS, (Michigan Accessory
and Gift Show) I was in the furniture business and loved coming to
Northville on market days. The town was bustling!

I was sad to see it close but excited to see that it was being turned
into a Mall! We had a friend who owned a friendly competitive baby
furniture store there. As the businesses moved in I would visit and
walk around dreaming about opening my own boutique there someday.
We had big stores, not boutique at all.

I love the way the building feels!

So naturally, when my husband and I lost our jobs I started talking
about ideas for a business there. Not that I didn't look before making
the decision. Northville was my 1st choice since it's my home town.
Plymouth had a few spots but every time I inquired they were just
commencing contract!
Another space I liked is where Sincerely Yours is located now.

Then I went to see the location where I opened in May 2011.
I fell in love with the potential of the space. It felt like a loft, with
big windows and natural light. It was love at first sight.

At the time, RePurpose had just had their opening gala and there was a lot
of positive buzz about the traffic the "Cash and Cari" would bring to town.
And it did! Some of the businesses reported increased numbers right away!

I started putting my plan together. The 1st thing on the list was to talk
to the businesses in the mall to get a feel for traffic and such...

Up next: The Sandwich Shop, The Baker and The Coffee Shop!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Too Stupid To Quit!

My hat goes off to all of the specialists across the United States who teach 
manners and etiquette to our youth! 

Each with a different approach in presentation, but the message always the same.

Common Courtesy,  Polite and Civil behavior toward others.

When children are toddlers we have fun teaching manners like please and thank you,

but what about the treatment of friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and strangers?

We have to communicate to our children as early as two years old that we have
expectations for their behavior and teach them how to behave or they learn from 
children who may not get the same support at home. 

Our children need to be reminded on a daily basis to be aware of their impact on 
others through lessons, conversations and good examples at home.

Easier said than done in a world where negative and sarcasm is the norm.

Based on feedback from others, the concept of a storefront classroom is a great idea 
and very needed.

I thought everyone would run to sign their children up! 

Now I know why it was such a unique idea!  Most classes are taught in restaurants,
community centers and private homes. 

My experience has been that most people think it's a great idea for 
someone else's children!

I thought that if I was sincere and worked hard I could make it work.

I'm not one to blame others or play aint it awful, but coming in future blogs I plan to 
share some of the roadblocks and setbacks that helped create a recipe for failure. 
Much of my own, but still!

For now,  the focus is on liquidating the inventory and working on a new marketing 
strategy for onsite classes. 

I am grateful to those who have been supportive, encouraging and 
believed in the message!  You continue to inspire me.

Stay tuned....

"Too Stupid To Quit"!

Tracey Wormsbacher

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fate or Choice? Come along with me as I try to find the answer...

There is no question that I believe in making good choices. In fact, If you ask anyone that knows me they'll describe me as "someone who tries".

I am driven and motivated to do the right thing!

Come along with me while I try to answer the question:

Which has more impact on the outcome of life CHOICE OR FATE?

I'll be sharing stories about myself and others to determine if the outcome is a result of choice or fate!

You'll have the opportunity to comment, give advice or ask questions!

Tracey Wormsbacher