Friday, May 31, 2013

owning a shop - my most important rule!

Each week, I get tons of email and Facebook messages from girls with a dream like I once had. They want to open a little shop that is all their own. 

I sometimes feel as though I should write a series for you all on opening your own vintage shop, so I am working on that idea. I am taking mental notes of lessons learned and when I have been at this a little while longer, I will give you some helpful hints of what to do to help your dream come to life. It is very different than a 'gift' or 'decor' shop....there is a whole side of things most of you wouldn't even suspect would be involved in a 'mostly' vintage type brick-and-mortar shop. 

My immediate circle hears my one most important rule all. the. time so I thought I would give you this tid-bit as my 'mantra' of the moment...

Honestly, I think they are sick of hearing me. But, to know me is to hear me. So they will have to deal. :o)

My number one rule for anything in business, or life for that


Simple as that. As the owner of a new and pretty successful little shop, I cannot stress enough how important it is to acknowldege that fact that you cannot do it all. 

Let me repeat that.

You CANNOT do it all. Try as you may, it is impossible to do all the things necessary to make your shop the very best it can be! Learning to recognize that and be willing to let go of the control a little is not easy. Because lets face it, if you have the ability to steer the ship enough to own your own shop, you have to have a little bit of 'control' in your personality. That is not a bad thing, to me it just means you can carry the weight. You bear the responsibility and you are not afraid to act and guide in the appropriate way. 

That being said, what I mean by 'don't waste your resources' is this. You need to surround yourself with the very best people you can. This may mean an accountant, employees, a cleaning crew, a handyman and for me...a stylist

I am sure you all know Susan from the blog fame Maple & Magnolia. Well let me tell ya, bringing Susan on board was one of the best things I have ever done in my LIFE!

She is my wing-man. Wing-woman? Wing-girl? Whatev. She is my words of wisdom. The girl that snaps me back to reality when I am thinking crazy. We plan. We plot. We work out the details. She cracks. me. up! She is my friend, and she is my stylist. And it could not work out any better to have her be a part of Urban Farmgirl. 

And here is why. 

When you work a bazilliion hours hunting down the vintage goods, dragging them home, cleaning them up, painting 80+ pieces of furniture each month, repurposing things. pricing them, selling it all, sometimes shipping it and doing all the millions of behind-the-scenes details that go along with owning a shop, you NEED help. {whew...I am tired just typing all that!}

That is my advice for the day. A little something for all of those that have asked me about how to bring their dream to reality. Do what you love. And be prepared to work double the amount of hours you think you will. {wink...} but most importantly, surround yourself with good people. 

Did I mention that since the shop is only open twice a month, we tear and down and rebuild it with new displays and merchandise each time we are open?? Crazy. But important!

So I guess what am trying to is ok to let go. It is ok to ask for help when you just don't have enough hours in your day to get it all done.

And if you have someone as fabulous as Susan available to give you the hand you grab her and hold on tight! 

And did I mention she sews some pretty fabulous pillows, too?? They are amazing. We carry them at the shop! And all those cute buntings you see? Yep. She sews those. too. 

See. Told you she was awesome. {wink...}

If you haven't read her blog post today, you have to click over and read it...and the one before that since they go together. The girl is hilarious!

Are you close to Rockford, IL?? We would LOVE to see you in the shop sometime! Stop by for a visit! Here are the open dates through Summer. 


  1. Mary,
    Great advice. I love your shop it always is fresh and exciting to come to. Susan is so sweet and has a great eye for displays so glad she can help you out. I was glad to see her back up in blog land she always makes me smile with her posts. Hope to see you soon.

  2. I am so happy I got to meet Fabulous Susan in person. I am in awe of what you two do and how much you accomplish together! What an amazing team! :)

  3. Your shop is amazing and having Susan on board couldn't be better!

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  4. Here's to talented friends! I wondered how you could do all that you do! Still pretty amazing!

  5. I'm so glad she posted about who she was! I 'follow' her on Facebook as well, but never put two and two together! Who knew I was filling my couch and my front door with her handiwork!
    I know I keep saying it, but someday soon, you will meet your biggest Iowa stalker/pillow buying farmgirl in person! :)

    1. hey, Farmgirl Chaos... looks like a photography/junkin trip in the making to me! Ann @ The Silver Shed

  6. By the way....I'm ready for another pillow and bunting! :)

  7. Ok, I just "mapquested" your shop from my driveway, and it is 4 hrs and 21 min. I can TOTALLY handle that!! Might have to ROADTRIP this summer!! ~Kim

  8. What great advice! Thank you for that, and you're right about the hours! It is always double what we plan on! :) Your shop is amazing and I wish I lived closer!!! Have a great weekend!

  9. I have great memories of our times at that farmhouse. (Some pretty funny senior pictures from there, too.) I am glad to see that all is going well with the business. You have summed up so many important points about entrepreneurship in your message above. Your friends and guests are fortunate that you are sharing your wisdom and lessons learned. I look forward to visiting your fabulous shop soon!

  10. It's so great that you have found someone to help where you needed it. The shop always looks wonderful-you two make a great team!

  11. You are so lucky to have so many awesome,amazing,talented people by your side!

  12. What a precious little shop! Yes, it's my dream! Thanks for the advice. Yes, I am a control freak. Ran a shop for my best friend. It was not successful because she didn't want vendors and I thought it would help to have others involved and add new customers. So I had my ideas and she had hers. She was the boss. I still can dream!

  13. Your shop looks so pretty, Mary! Everything is displayed so wonderfully. I hope I can visit on day. I'm taking a little trip in June...perhaps I can persuade the Mister to make a little stop along the way.

    I used to own a little shop along with my mom and my sister. While we all absolutely loved it, I would've never guessed how unbelievably time consuming it was.


  14. The shop looks amazing!! On another note, would you happen to know what machine would be the best to use to put a digital download on fabrics such as tea towels, pillows etc...

  15. i have loved watching your dream come true
    love seeing all the beautiful things you find for your shop
    love your heart
    blessings to and your sweet little shop

  16. What an absolutely wonderful shop!!!! The styling and the gorgeous colors are to die for. It is obvious that you and your team love what you all are doing - it definitely shows.

  17. That is such great advice and I have LOVED watching this happen for you Mary. Just been a fabulous thing to behold.
    Cheering you on girl!

  18. Love your shop and love Susan too! I just wish she were here in Georgia with me! Yes we need a series of this shop talk :) We just opened Nostalgia on April 4th, so much to learn ;)

  19. Your shop looks nice, very nice :) I like it.

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  21. It's a hard game to play.. owning a shop. Of course you have some benefits, a lots of them, but in one word.. Congrats for your shop :)

  22. I think that this is a great rule of thumb. However, you are right this is so much easier to say than to actually practice. If you are driven enough to start your own business you are going to have major problems relinquishing control of your dream.

  23. Yeah, I think you missed to tell us about those lovely and comfy pillows. My, those are certainly my cup of tea! I would love to have for our living room and guest room. I think the idea is superbly grand, don’t you think? Anyway, I’m very much interested with your shop. Hope to see more of your interesting and cool stuff!

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  26. Thank you for your advice. Yes, I do dream of having my own occasional shop...someday soon I hope and pray. Until then, I continue to work my little booth at an antique place as if it were my shop.

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  28. hello from Australia- I am a vintage girl also who ran a successful shop for 7 years and closed it as I was so bored sitting indoors all day, and with very few customers...and with going out and buying etc I had no closed it up and went on the road- taking my wares to events to sell- been doing that for 10 years now and although it lots of fun its now getting too much for me.( am getting older) until I read your blog it never occurred to me I could open up a new shop- do lots of social networking and have special opening weekends only and not be open all day every day- what a great idea! thanks for the inspiration....I have a huge old stone stable full of junk I could convert and have a property which is zoned both residential and commercial so I would be able to do it....well done on your blog and vintage shop!

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  31. Hi, great blog and I'm headed over to see Susan's blog here next. Just a curious question as to why you only open twice a month? I'm getting ready to open a local brick n mortar and I'm just doing some research at the moment.

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