The One That Got Away...

February 17, 2017

I have already committed the cardinal sin of blogging- I made reference to a scheduled post and its content and then failed to follow through on said post.  I myself have scrolled through many a blog- kids crafts, DIY's, cooking you name it- only to find the link to fail, the content archived circa 2013 and not a new post in sight.  I often wondered, "how do people expect to stay relevant if they aren't engaging weekly with the following they have built up?  Like, how long does it really take to smash a few sentences together??  How could they have let this happen???"

 

I tell you how- they have a life and their blog is usually an extension of that life and sometimes, in spite of their/my best intentions and the raging passion we might have for our craft, that life gets in the way of us writing.  I just started and it already got the best of me.

 

When I first entertained the idea of a blog for my wedding consignment business I had this romantic notion that out would be filled with witty anecdotes about love, insight into sentimental practices surrounding weddings, breathy rants about the designers and the dresses and the perfect rosebud vase.  I thought that I would be harmonizing the relationship between conventional weddings and sustainable lifestyle choices.  I had a plan.  It is still my plan.  In making that plan I have side stepped a very important part of this whole process.  The part that has laid the foundation for this very business to begin with.  All of us have plans.  We also have beginnings.  There is a natural trajectory that we follow in realizing those dreams whether it is a carefully laid out map or a stumbling nose first across the finish line.  So instead of putting hours of research into something I don't have a full grasp of yet (you were hoping to hear I was an expert?) I am going to lay out the bare bones of how I started my wedding consignment store.  The nitty gritty of opening your own business on your own terms armed with your vision and a won't-take-no-for-an-answer attitude.  

 

I got married in 2013 to the most beautiful human.  I could make an entire post about the attributes of Josh and how lovely is is to be married to a man who gives you the freedom to be your own person in spite of the various hats you already wear.  He has been my number one supporter.  He also is an excellent handyman and has the strength of Paul Bunyan which proved very useful in the renovation process.   Our wedding went from zero to 60 faster than you can say "I do".  I had never pictured or planned what that day would look like and I took off on the idea.  Armed with a Pinterest board and the fresh idealism of a newly engaged bride I sourced glassware online, scoured buy and sell pages and DIY'd until 2 am the night before.  Josh picked up boxes at the border to avoid shipping fees.  I made 3 foot floral wreaths with silk flowers while breastfeeding our youngest son.  I met with elderly ladies in their basements who were selling vintage glassware.  I would buy things that I didn't even know if I would use them because they were "such a good deal".  

The end result was amazing.  I admit I went off theme and probably lost my vision in translation but I have no regrets.  In the afterglow of that event we packed up all my precious treasures and stored them at a friends facility.  For 2 years.  Immediately after my wedding I pondered what I would do with all the my precious artifacts.  I hated the idea of them hiding in boxes, taking up space, being unappreciated.  I also had spent hard earned money and could't imagine not recouping some of my costs.  My dress was a cake topper- a glorious swirling organza ball gown with a 3 foot train- and it couldn't be reasonably stored anywhere. My only option was local buy and sell pages.  Which serve their purpose in the planning and I have utilized for many things.  I like the idea of managing my inventory on a free forum with multiple options for communication and the low maintenance of some one picking up the items for cash.  It all sounds so simple.  So easy.  The truth is that for the motivated buyer buy and sells are an amazing resource.  Unfortunately, the frequently expressed interest rarely matches the actual purchases.  The haggling, the no shows and the scheduling around both parties busy lives is exhausting.    

 

So it came to me that we needed a solution for this commonly encountered problem.  I am not reinventing wheel the here.  Consignment stores are a thing.

They are a thing in most urban centers across North America.  Except here.  Why hadn't anyone thought of this?  Why wasn't this an option already?  Especially here in a Prairie city, land of the social,  home of the thrifty.  In the epicenter of "we love a bargain" where was my wedding consignment store?  

 

As with most good ideas this epiphany was placed on the back burner for more practical employment opportunities.  That is not to say I didn't invest a solid amount of time (hours actually) into researching the business model and the wedding industry.  I obsessed over it for weeks.  Armed with my new found passion and statistics that covered everything from number of weddings held in Manitoba to the relevance of traffic flow on retail locations I proclaimed to my family that I was opening a business.  Now for anyone who has ever been in the throws of an emotional relationship with a dream presenting this to just about any one is risky.  Taking this to a group of women that come from a long line of practical choice makers who, and rightly so, make decisions based on pensions and job security, was entrepreneurial sabotage.  They shot the concept down.  In fact they not only shot it down they dismissed it as "another one of my crazy ideas" that would never result in any sort of viable income.  My own family?  Can you imagine?  You probably can.  It is often the people close to us who think they need to protect us from ourselves and in doing so don't realize how incredibly deflating their opinion can be.  I lost my confidence.  I lost my drive.  I believed them.  And I gave up on my dream.  

 

In their defense I hadn't always made the most sound life choices.  I can see how leaving my job as a General Manager in Winnipeg's fastest growing local restaurant chain seemed ludicrous.  I had a child and bills and a lifestyle to support.   It was scary for them to think that I would give that all up on a wing and a prayer.  So I continued to toil away in the hospitality industry.  I had another baby.  And then in the midst of the mundane IT happened.  The Great Roof Incident of 2016.   While doing some routine work on some residential gutters, after years of working on scaffolding stories high without incident, Josh fell 11 feet directly onto his lower back when a ladder slipped out from under him.  He crushed his vertebrae, lost 1/2 inch of height and was bed ridden and out of work for months.  We are so lucky he wasn't paralyzed.  It could have been so much worse.

 

At the age of 34 I chose to quit my salaried job and return to serving tables in order to support us and our two children while he recovered.  In the months following his accident I had a lot of good days.  Serving seemed less stressful then management.  I was reminded of how fun it can be to "hang out" with all my co-workers.  I was able to leave my work at work.  We moved right after the accident because I felt that making those financial decisions right away would save us stress in the long run.  One day a girl walked in who had worked with me as a hostess many years ago when I first became a restaurant manager.  She was now a successful real estate agent.  Serving her a smoothie changed my life.  It wasn't anything she said or did.  It just made me realize that I didn't want to be bringing people their meals while they were on break from living their dreams.  

 

In August of 2016 my mother-in-law Michelle and I were standing in the water watching the kids play at the beach.  She asked me, "whatever happened to that idea you had for the consignment store?"  I mumbled some things about time and money and risks.  I don't know if it was the roof incident or the two bedroom spider infested apartment or the smoothie exchange.  I think hearing her say that it was a good idea and she believed in  me was the moment that this became the only choice for me moving forward.  "You should do it.  You can do it," she told me.

 

So I did it.  This wasn't going to be my biggest regret.  This wasn't going to be the one that got away.  I did it.  

 

And I am excited to tell you how.  Stay tuned!

 

Amanda

 

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