Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Branching Out

I opened my first antiques shop 30 years ago, knowing nothing about retail and truthfully, not much more about antiques. I was simply determined to gather together some of the things I loved and present them to others who loved antiques. Looking back, I realize how naive I was about the potential for financial disaster. I was passionate, and I thought there must be others who loved to surround themselves with pieces of the past . . . . and surely they would be seeking a shop like mine . . . . right? Over the years I've been blessed to meet some of the nicest people in the country. I began on a shoestring, and when the first load of merchandise sold, I was off to shop for more. Amid oohs and aahs throughout the shop and long warm conversations about memories and cherished family keepsakes, I started to feel more confident, and began a little notebook of items my customers were looking for. My business blossomed, my customer list grew and my shop grew to house an abundance of beautiful treasures. I soon realized that a large part of my enjoyment was derived from creating my vignettes. I was learning that the way an item was displayed could make all the difference in how my customer perceived it's value and desirability. Context and texture, lighting and elevation . . . . these things made a big difference. It really stunned me when customers began asking if they could take a photograph before purchasing an item, so they could be confident they could duplicate my display exactly when they got home. Of course I was pleased and delighted that they loved my ideas. It wasn't long until someone asked if I would visit their home and give them some advice on how to diplay their collection of quilts. Then someone else asked, and then . . . . a little branch of my business was born. One day I came home to find my, (female), mail carrier peeking intently through the window of my condominium. She was embarrassed to be caught, but confessed that she was intrigued with my decor, and wanted so much to see more. I invited her in, and my little styling business was launched. I'm delighted to tell you that all these years later, a large part of my joy is still in assisting others who love to surround themselves with beautiful things.

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