Monday, June 30, 2003

Finally, a post that isn't laden with complaints and gripes! Things have taken a turn for the better since I returned from New Jersey. The sign had arrived while we were gone, so the first thing I did was hang it up outside.

Then people started coming. And more arrived... and more... And now I'm fighting a wonderful problem: Being too busy! I have several updated pics of the store, I just need to get them out of my camera and onto the servers.

More merchandise continues to arrive. Lovely little T-shirts with a blueberry logo and "Buck's Harbor" on them, and - today - 16 boxes of beautiful French towels in all sorts of delicious colors! I can hardly wait to get home and tear into those boxes.

Unfortunately, the rest of my life seems to be taking a back seat to this business venture. There was very little "other" life left even before this began, but now it's reduced to even more eensy weensy proportions.

Knitting for the pure enjoyment of knitting (not to be confused with swatches for KR) .... well... haven't done it lately. That wonderful Hanne Falkenberg kit I was working on remains in its bag, patiently awaiting my return. Ditto for all the other kits.

I did have to relocate my stash to make room for this last batch of notecards, and that was a fantastic experience. Terrifying in that I came face to face with more yarn than any one person should ever own. But fantastic in that I now have all these bins and boxes in a much easier-to-navigate location. When time permits, I plan to do an archaeological dig into the yarn frenzies of my past.

Friday, June 20, 2003

The comedy of errors continues. A huge truck came to town last Friday and plunked down 24 big, beautiful boxes full of... drum roll please... the new notecards! And they look gorgeous. At the risk of sounding completely obnoxious, I'm mighty proud of these cards.

There was only one small snag. They forgot the envelopes. Not as in, "Woops, we forgot to put the envelopes on the truck," but, "Envelopes? What envelopes?" Apparently lots of people order 32,000 notecards without envelopes. Who knew?

Small delay.

Tomorrow I head to New Jersey to watch my nephew graduate from high school. It's an eight-hour drive devoid of distractions beyond local radio, my humble CD supply, chain restaurants, and the occasional tollbooth operator. If I don't update the blog for a few days, you'll know why.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

You know when you get so uptight about something that you lose your perspective on the bigger picture? This happened yesterday when I went to pick up the sign for Clara's Window. It was supposed to be ready, and I've been counting on it all week. It's rather... um... hard to run a shop when you have no sign. Nobody knows you're there.

Well, it turns out there was a mistake and the sign won't be ready until next Tuesday. Because of a forced trip to New Jersey next weekend, I won't be able to put up my store sign until Friday June 27th. The summer tourist season here goes from June to August, so I'm effectively missing one-third of my potential audience because some inattentive person screwed up on my sign. Thanks a lot.

Instead of being a mature professional and demanding, say, a partial refund or weekend delivery of the sign, I found myself becoming hysterical and weepy. Obviously this isn't the best way to behave. So I left and bought soap at the Pier 1 across the street. Retail therapy strikes again.

Then there's the issue of schooners and their wacko schedules. They seem to enjoy stopping in town at 8pm, long after I've closed. They bring their passengers ashore at 8am the next morning, whisking everyone back on the boat and out of town by 10am, which is when I open.

Because my entire town has a population of 910 people, these extra visitors make a significant dent in things. I've contacted all the schooner captains, which will help. But meanwhile I'm facing the question of whether or not I change my hours on the off-chance that a schooner will come to town (their schedules are notoriously vague) and that the passengers will actually want anything in my shop. The balance between smart business and pitiful desperation is tricky.

I talked with the owner of my coffee shop about this today. He has managed to create a cafe to beat all cafes, with the best brewed coffees and espresso drinks in all of Maine (not that this is a remarkable boast, mind you, but still). "You just have to trust your gut," he said. "If we did everything that other people wanted us to do, we wouldn't be where we are today. Do what your instinct tells you. Once you let go of trying to please everybody, it gets a lot easier."

I suppose that's a lesson for life, period, whether you're a retailer or teacher or computer programmer or anything else. And it's what I shall be working on myself over the next few months.

Thursday, June 5, 2003

It's been a slow day here at Clara's Window International Inc., which was probably good since it was newsletter publishing day. Still, I took out the handy dandy camera and took a few more shots to give you the feeling of being here with me. Here they are...

the window, from the outside
My front window, from the outside.

the view when you walk inthe view when you walk in
And when you walk in, this is what you see.

My "cash/wrap" area (boy do I love this retail lingo) is tucked along the far right wall, invisible to the human eye until you've safely entered my lair. I didn't do this to be evil, I did it so I could see the harbor from my desk... er.. cash wrap. It's a long raised table with an electric tea kettle and teensy weensy fridge hidden underneath for those constant tea breaks I seem to be having.

The biggest excitement was the arrival of the Jennifer Pudney needlepoint kits yesterday. Here's a close-up of the display. (Hey humor me, I love these things...)
the Jennifer Pudney handy dandy display

It's a thrill a minute, I tell you! And next week I'll finally get my sign, which is usually a good thing to have if you're a retail establishment. Yes, I promise to post pics as soon as the sign is up.

Sunday, June 1, 2003

Clara's Window is open for business!
It's hard to believe we went from this...before this in only 20 days. Now you know why I haven't posted here in a while!after
I officially opened my doors today despite the lack of an outdoor sign and about a third of my ultimate inventory. It was grey and rainy, but several kind and loyal folks came by to check out the new place in town and otherwise show their support. I'm thoroughly exhausted but exhilarated to have met this initial milestone. I'll be bringing the laptop with me tomorrow, and if time permits I promise to post more.