Monday, October 17, 2011

An Essay For My Mom-by Lindsay

    About two years ago, one of our wholesale vendors announced an essay contest.  The requirements were simply to describe why you should win $1,000 of their merchandise and a day of the owners of the company setting up a display in your store. 
    My first thoughts upon reading about the contest were that I'd never win.  I was sure there would be hundreds of entries and mine wouldn't even be read.  The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that we have an incredible story.  We have been through a lot to get to where we are now and I felt that if anything, for my mom,  I needed to put our journey on paper.  I needed to write our story, not just for the contest but for us.
    This was my entry:
Certain lucky people find one true passion in life that drives them in everything they do.  My mom, Angie, has always had a passion for hunting for the unusual, mixing old and new in her decorating, and making the spaces around her feel warm and comfortable.  She has focused this passion into a store that means absolutely everything to her.  For this reason, 2008 was the toughest year of her life and one that left me feeling completely helpless to make it better for her.

    In April of last year, a routine mammogram revealed that my mom had ductal carcinoma in her right breast.  I remember sitting with her in the office looking directly into the face of our doctor as the words came out of her mouth.  It didn't feel real.  I was devastated and panicked but my mom was angry.  The first thing she said to the doctor was, "Well, I don't have time for this.  I own a store!"

   Despite her hesitation to leave the store for a while, she was immediately thrust into a painful mastectomy and later, a reconstruction that was done incorrectly and subsequently re-reconstructed, causing much physical discomfort and lots of time away from her dreams at our shop.  I was working as much as I could to hold things together for her, but in reality, there just wasn't much I could do. I came home from the store every night to find her lying in bed covered in decorating magazines and books, drawing ideas, and talking about getting back to work.  She got better and better each day, and finally, when the time had almost come for her to get back to her life and the store she loved, it happened...

    On Sunday morning, September 15th, we received a frantic call from our landlord.  It had been raining all night from the storms that came with hurricane Ike.  A creek near our store had been completely overwhelmed and had flooded the entire neighborhood.    We didn't even know there was a creek anywhere near our store.  We had never even heard of that area flooding in the past.  Our landlord didn't know whether our store had been affected, but he wanted us to go see what had happened.

    My mom insisted that she ride with my dad and me to see the devastation despite the fact that she still had drains form surgery.  We thought, maybe it's just a couple of inches.  Maybe the water didn't come up far enough to do any damage.  It couldn't have.
    I will never forget the sight that came upon us after reaching the top of the hill that overlooked our store.  The area was filled with police and fire trucks.  The street was closed because the water was so high that it was impassible. People were being rescued by boat out of the building next to ours.

  After explaining several times to officers that we owned a store on the street, we made our way on foot to the front of our building.  It was there that we stood, silent and motionless for a very long time, literally watching mud and debris flowing out of our once beautiful home away from home.  My mom started to cry and I realized that she hadn't cried once throughout her diagnosis or treatments.  Standing there, seeing all of our vintage furniture knocked over from the force of the water and all of our little display items floating in brown, smelly floodwater was just too much for her.  She was grieving the loss of so many things in that moment and my dad and I felt completely helpless.

    We spent several weeks cleaning up the mess that was left behind, documenting the damages, and worrying about all the money we would owe.  We had gotten our holiday merchandise on terms from our vendors which means that you pay for it after you've sold it.  Unfortunately, our storage shelving had all collapsed into the water and destroyed every last piece of it.  We were given temporary hope when FEMA declared the site a national disaster area, but quickly found out that the only aid we'd be offered was a loan requiring my parent's house as collateral.

    My mom and I have come a long way since that September morning.  We have moved into a new building and are still slowly recovering from the devastating financial and emotional impact of last year.  Our customers are thrilled that we didn't give up after cancer and a flood and they couldn't be more supportive.  We have been so lucky that our new location is working out and we are busier than ever.  Best of all though, my mom is healthy and cancer free.

    After everything that she has been through, I think my mom deserves to win this contest because she has been so determined to keep doing what she loves.  Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she has picked right up where she left off.  Two thousand eight was a tough year for her and although I felt helpless throughout her struggles, I want to do everything I can to make 2009 a new start for her.  She loves the vintage, natural look of Park Hill's collection and absolutely raved about the showroom in Atlanta.  It would be so wonderful to win this opportunity for her because it would be a way for me to start her new year with some good news and give her a little help in getting back to doing what she loves and was absolutely meant to do.

    I got a call from the owner of the company that was holding the contest the next day.  He told me, while getting choked up on his words, that they were coming to St. Louis.  He said that he completely related to the passion that my mom has for all things vintage and cannot imagine being taken away from what he was meant to do for any amount of time.
    I will never forget being able to tell my mom that I'd won an essay contest on behalf of her.  I know it was just a contest, but for us, it really did represent a new start.  It all seems like a blur now, but every once in a while, I get to reminisce about the time we were visited by the sweetest owners of one of our wholesale companies and given a whole display of their amazing merchandise.  It really was a wonderful start to 2009.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July Buying Trip to the Atlanta Mart Part 3

I have to apologize that these blogs about Atlanta aren't very orgazized.  I   took about 150 photos and can't remember what happened in what order.  It was all such a blur!  Below is some jewelry we got in the cash and carry building. 

Another jewelry booth where we had to stop was Jill Schwartz.  Her stuff is sooooo cool and we ordere some to sell for Christmas.  Below is her setup which was so quirky and fun and vintage.

We also got to meet her!  She wrote up our order and helped us pick out some great pieces. 

Us with the one and only Jill Schwartz!!!
And as if we weren't already excited about meeting one of our favorite artists, we were shocked to see Wendy Addison standing in the Tinsel Trading area.  Yipee, we've been ordering her glass glitter and paper goodies for years now and finally got to meet her!

Did you know that she's from Missouri?  She was very sweet and we placed an order for some of her creations.
Next, we got a couple of wrappy style bracelets.  These are really popular right now.  Expect to see lots of them!

I want to copy the banner idea below.  They literally took some string, cut out triangles from old paper, and folded the edge over and stapled it.  Easy!!!

some handmade frames we ordered
Not all of market is work.  There are lots of parties, coctails,and celebrations going on.

A lot of showrooms have beer, soda and wine sitting out.  We hardly paid for any food either because there were so many snacks and desserts out.
Some of the showrooms have some "interesting" merchandise...
Can't wait to steal this idea and wrap ribbon around old suitcases.

This pic below is what the aisles in the "high design" temporaries look like.  This is where Cody Foster and Jill Schwartz are set up. 

One evening, we went to Jalapeno Charlie's and sat on the patio upstairs.  The street that the mart is on is very busy and we had a great time people watching. 
One of the showrooms is set up like a cute little candy store.  They put the merchandise in cases that would normally have cakes and pies and the walls are pink.  It's so cute!

That's most of my pictures.  I hope they give you an idea what it's like to go to market.  People are always so interested in what goes on in this magical place!  It was a lot of work, but we ordered the coolest stuff.  I think this is the most excited we've been about what we ordered in a long time.  It will come in at all different times but if you want to know when anything specific is coming, just give me a call or email!  Thanks for reading!  -Lindsay 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July Buying Trip to the Atlanta Mart Part 2

Ok so I'm back to uploading photos.  I don't know why but it seems like the blog doesn't like my IPhone.  Also, I had to let the Fedex guy into the back door so he could deliver CHRISTMAS merchandise.  Can you believe it?!  We already have shelves full in the basement that are tagged and ready to go.

Anyway, back to our trip!  So, every night, we sat and planned our next day.  You have to be really organized and know what you're doing at market.  We like to go to dinner and figure out our plan of attack at the end of each day.  Here's my mom studying the guide.
On day 2, we had an appointment in the Midwest/CBK showroom (you might have heard them called Seasons of Cannon Falls)  They had some cool displays and we got some fun cake stands and chandeliers.

Next, we headed over to one of our pillow vendors and picked out some fun designs.  We literally pulled them off of shelves and made a pile of what we liked.  The rep thought we were crazy I bet!

We just happened by a place with this pearl chandelier and had to have it!!!  In my mom's words, it's "stinkin' cute!"
Another place had these fun velvet and paper banners that say, "wish", "dream" and "love"  They also had these party hats and wings.
Made of wood and hangs on the wall.  Aren't they cool?

We came across a cool line of jewelry made with old parts and it has lots of fleur de lis and crosses.  We had a specific customer in mind for a lot of it.  Isn't it fabulous?  I made my mom put it on so we could get a good picture.

One of the days, (theyre all mixed up in my head now) we spent in the area called "Children's World"  We found a fabulous new line of baby blankets and bibs

Can you believe how cute the patterns are?  They're so soft!
We thought this set would be a great Christening gift
Next, we placed an order for some diaper bags that we think are to-die-for.  They're really expensive (Like in the $300 range) but so amazing!  My mom said she would have had 7 kids just to justify getting it.

We've been looking for cute gifty items for baby and found these little gift crates.  They come with a book, a teether, a finger puppet and little cloth.  You can read the book and use the finger puppet to make it come to life.  I think these will be $39.

Then we found some super soft swaddling blankets.  They also make a great gift!

Ok so I'm getting tired again.  I'll have to take a rest and do a part 3 of this blog!

July Buying Trip to the Atlanta Mart Part 1

Every January and July, we go on buying trips to order our new accessories and gift items for the store.  The marts we go to are only for people with stores and you have to wear a badge at all times to get in.  We just got back from Atlanta and wanted to share our pictures form the adventure.  We usually bring a team of friends or employees, but this time, it was just my mom and I (Lindsay).

Angie in the Bethany Lowe Showroom
 We spent 6 days in Atlanta where there are 3 huge buildings full of showrooms.  Some of the showrooms have cool, vintage inspired decor, some are ultra modern, some have only lamps, some are always there and some are only there twice a year for the big markets.  There is so much to see that we didn't see everything in 6 ten hour days!

Bethany Lowe Spring 2012 Collections.
Every showroom has a minimum order amount.  Most are between $500 and $1,000 and you have to make sure that you see enough things to be able to meet the minimum.
Got these cute paper hangers for next spring.

We have so many customers that get excited about this designer, Leesa Daley's, pieces.  This is the Spring 2012 collection

Here's Angie making decisions.  Every item has minimum quantities so sometimes, we really want to order something, but you have to get like 24 of them and we have to pass on it.  It's so hard!!!

Every showroom has reps that take orders and they get commission based on how much you spend.  You can usually ask them what has been selling really well, what kind of special deals are being offered, and get their opinion about what to choose.

Ordered great garden inspired things for next Spring.

We saw a ton of hearts at market.  Is that going to be a new trend??

Below are pictures from one of our favorite showrooms ever.  They always have great things at affordable prices.  We ordered $8,000 in goodies here!

Ordered this cool jar and then saw it in another showroom for twice the price.  Whew!  Lucky us!

Got one of these cabinets with the clock.

We got some of these cool rugs with script and old looking maps on them.  Ordered lots of chandeliers, picture frames, mirrors, mercury glass, and lots more.  It took us about two hours to get through this showroom.

After this huge order, we headed down the hall to Peacock Park, a fun vintage, french wholesaler.
Look how cool their window was!

I can't even begin to describe how confusing this place is if you haven't been here before.

This is what the hallways look like in the permanent showroom areas. 
Ordered some awesome paperweights for Christmas gifts.  I really liked the peacock one.

Some of the showrooms do such a good job of luring you in with cool displays in the entrance!  We just had to go in after seeing this mossy elephant.

We were glad we did go in because they had great chandeliers!

Getting a little frustrated with how slow my photos are loading so I'll post part 2 soon...