3.22.2009

Retail is Change...



I stopped by on Saturday to say a fond farewell to the girls at Salvage Studio, and wish them all the best on the next part of their adventure. Saturday was the closing day at their store, which has always been jam-packed with fabulous junk (and I mean that in the most positive way!), and Beth told me they've enjoyed a steady stream of visitors, customers, and shoppers. The place was all but empty of merchandise by the time we made it there.... which is exactly what one wants when closing up shop, right?

Don't be misled into thinking that this closure has anything to do with a depressed economy. Oh, no.... it's been planned for a few months, as a result to some really amazing opportunities that have opened up for the girls. Their book, 'The Salvage Studio', has propelled them into another stratosphere! (You can buy it here) I am so excited to hear about and see the new things they will be doing...they aren't spilling too many beans yet, but they have many irons in the fire.

I was chatting recently with friends about this development for Salvage Studio and also the bankruptcy and closure of Shabby Chic, and it is amazing to hear the varying perspectives that people have. Most in retail wince and just say 'ouch' or 'It's the times, I tell ya....'. Finance people mention that this is a lousy time for a lot of people, and ask 'If they are closing the store, what will they do to sustain an income?'. Those in other industries ask why it happened, what's next, and offer something like 'I hope they have better luck in their next venture'. Most think it's all happening because of the economy. More than a few looked shocked when I explained that the Salvage Studio girls made the choice willingly, even though their store was doing quite well. This is what's best for them and for the sustained growth of their business right now - and being a business owner often means making choices that no one else understands!

In the case of Rachel Ashwell and her Shabby Chic Empire, many women have expressed sorrow and hearfelt concern for the founder - who, on her blog, reveals the rawness of the pain of losing a company that she has spent all of her life building, just months after losing her mum. I, too, read her words and hope she can make it through this dark time because that is a lot of burden for any one person to bear - especially publicly. But really, I know she can and will. And I for one am excited to see what she does next - this woman created a decorating style that has been the number one choice worldwide for over twenty years. She will certainly emerge from this drought with a flood of new inspiration and beauty that will inspire us all.

That's the thing about closing a business or morphing it to head in a new direction: it's a chance for creativity to shine. Sometimes the choices are forced upon us, sometimes we make them ourselves, but the end result can always be our choice to create something NEW. We often take a course of maintenance rather than growth with our businesses or art, and it takes a shake-up to open our eyes to new possibilities. In the case of my friends at the Salvage Studio, they saw the doors opening and walked through them. Rachel has seemingly been shoved through the door and it has slammed behind her. But all of these women are in a position to recreate, redesign, and redefine themselves and their businesses, and to move forward to ever better things & opportunities.

It's a situation we can all learn from... what choices do you need to make about your business right now? What can you do to grow, rather than shrink, in today's marketplace? Are you heading in the direction you want to - or is it time for a detour? Where does that door in front of you lead - and are you willing to walk through it to find out?

2 comments:

  1. Our small retail community gathered last week to brainstorm ways to attract more businesses. An upbeat group excited about incoming sidewalks and new ways to promote the area. As a result our town paper had a head line that read; town mulls over ways to keep stores open.Sounded like we are about to board up town. Not true! The media brain washing is everywhere, they have even convinced themselves. Now is the time for growth new opportunities and positive change. That's what we had a meeting about. Don't underestimate a retailer.I see speed bumps on the horizon, but no detours...we will continue to move forward.
    Thanks for the inspiring post.
    Heidi

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  2. Heidi, the exact same thing happened to the town where our furniture is sold - the media spun the story from 'positive action' to 'negative re-action'!

    Fear does so much damage, and I agree with you that it is brainwashing. Thanks so much for sharing your experience...

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