Monday, April 28, 2008

Tax Rebate

I got this email today from my friend Wendy. If you think about it, she's right! (it's a little harsh, but true)

The following information is being sent to help you decide how to spend your
IRS Rebate Check wisely:

Each of us soon will get a rebate check to stimulate the economy.

If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, all the money will go to China.
If we spend it on gasoline, it will go to the Arabs.
If we purchase a computer, it will go to India.
If we purchase fruit and vegetables, it will go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala.
If we purchase a good car, it will go to Japan.
If we purchase useless stuff, it will go to Taiwan.

Therefore, none of the above will help the American economy.

We need to keep that money here in America, so spend it at yard sales.

Or at a store like the one I'm opening, where everything is locally produced or at least fairly traded. . .

I added a link to the store website at the bottom of this page--check it out!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A logo + a storefront=a productive weekend

Here's the official store logo! HUGE thanks to Brenda Zaczek for doing this for me! I had the concept, but not the skills to make it happen. We spent most of last night working on it. We'll be working on the website soon, too. Brenda is a really talented (and easy to work with) designer. She's doing a lot of freelance these days, so if anyone reading this would like to use her, just send me a message and I'll hook you up.

Now I officially have a signed document (okay, it's a piece of notebook paper) saying that the storefront will be mine to rent on June first. Jon and I went and met the building owners, George and Phyllis, today. We agreed on a price and looked around a bit more and took some pictures of the hair salon where the store will be. I think the space will be great, and the building is almost 100 years old, with a lot of the original character. Berwyn is celebrating its centennial this summer and I'll have one of the original storefronts! I hope that the centennial celebrations help to bring a lot of people to the Historic Depot District.

Here are some interior shots of the store. . . It's currently a hair salon. I know Janet will probably be wanting to sell some (or all) of the salon fixtures, so if anyone wants them, let me know and I can get you in touch with her.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A home for my store!

I am excited to announce that I have found a home for my store! I go tomorrow to sign a lease, and then I can start to plan-o-gram-a-rama! I won't get possession of the space until June 1st, but I'm getting friendly with the current occupant, so I can start to measure and plot things out in my mind. This is such a big step because now I can start to promote the location (the Depot District merchants are putting out a postcard handout for the Bloom-n-Zoom, and I can do one of my own). It's been hard to find a good location. There were so many things to consider--parking, sign visibility, neighbors. . . Of course this one is the most expensive one I've seen, but I think it will be worth the extra money in the long run. *phew*

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day to You!

Today is officially Earth Day (although every day should be). To celebrate, we went to Green Home Experts on Sunday to buy a composter for our yard. They were out! This is great news--the store is fairly new (and fabulous) and I'm glad they're doing well. They'll call us when they get more in. Until then, I'll just have to compress the contents of the kitchen compost pail a bit.

There are so many little everyday things that we can do to be kinder to our planet. I've been doing some of them for so long, they're just second nature. Like making mustgo for dinner. Just take all the veggies on the verge and make something from them--mustgo soup, garbage salad, stir fry surprise, or our latest favorite: Mexican glop. I suppose I could name them something more appetizing, but you get the idea. . . Don't waste food--it makes Jesus cry. And we don't want that.

Other things that we do without thinking anymore: bring your own reusable bags--even the guys at the produce market are used to me doing that now. And almost all bags are reusable, not just the cloth ones. I occasionally get paper grocery bags, and we put those in the paper shredder can to catch the strips. Then the whole thing goes out to the recycle bin. I usually set a magazine on top to keep the shreds from blowing away. Learned that one the hard way. . .

Jon has been buying his lunch meat in those "disposable" plastic food containers. I keep a few on hand for sending leftovers home with guests or bringing food to parties. The rest are in my craft room or on the workbench. They're transparent enough to see the contents without opening them, and they're better than buying the Rubbermaid containers. They stack easily too. We also have the jars with the lids screwed onto the ceiling (or the fabulous jar-go-round that came with our house!) for nails and screws and such.

THE FABULOUS JAR-GO-ROUND! It took a bit of elbow grease to get the paint off the jars (I think they spray-painted our basement) but it's up and running now.

The seedlings that we planted in the basement have been upgraded--we take them out in the sun during the day, and put them to bed in the garage at night. It's supposed to acclimate them to the temperature change. They seem like they're enjoying it. I'm just waiting for one of our evil squirrels to uproot them. They're the craftiest squirrels I've ever seen--and they're not afraid of people, cats, or dogs. Maybe we need a pet cougar or something. . .

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Antique Sale Recap

Chersten and I had a lovely day of selling our wares at the Berwyn Historical Society's Antique and Collectible sale today. Now I'm thinking more about selling a few vintage items in my store. After all, reusing vintage stuff is the best form of recycling that there is! In that respect, I've been recycling my whole life--wearing vintage clothing, vintage eyeglass frames and sunglasses, and eating off antique china. About half the stuff I use in my kitchen is older than I am! (and some of the stuff I got new is fast approaching vintage status--ugh!).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Organic Cotton Tshirts for the Masses!!

I was at JC Penney's yesterday shopping for in-law birthday presents, and I came across some organic cotton Tshirts in the young men's section! So of course I had to race over to women's to see if they were there too. They are! (plus and regular sizes!) And under $20 (plus Penney's always has coupons in the paper and stuff). I'm so happy the trickle down theory is in effect!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spider Relocation System

I have been perusing the world wide web for eco-conscious products to have in my store. My attention was grabbed by something called a "spider relocater". I've always liked spiders, and disliked the things they eat, so I'm against the killing of them in most circumstances. I thought this could be an interesting product. OMG. It is a horrible vacuum tube thingy that you suck the spider into (via some sort of internal plunger thing) and take it outdoors to release it. It looked to be about a foot in length and over an inch in diameter. What a waste of plastic! Do you have a piece of paper? That's my spider relocation system. Paper, cardstock, even a toilet tissue tube has been used in my house for this purpose. They just crawl onto the paper (I'm not sure why) and they don't fly, they rarely leap, and if you're quick about it, they don't even realize what's happening. They're just outside all of a sudden. I used this system the other night at about 3am when I got up to pee and there was a little, but sturdy, spider crawling on my bathroom floor. I was half asleep, and less than half dressed when I did this. I climbed back into bed and Jon (the hubby) couldn't figure out why I was so cold and damp. I told him, and now I think I'm in charge of all pest problems in our house. D'oh!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bloomin' and Zoomin'

Mother's Day weekend Berwyn is hosting the second annual Bloom-n-Zoom--an outdoor market where people can come and buy stuff for Mother's Day. There will be plants, flowers, gifty stuff, etc. I'm thinking about getting a booth for it, which means I need to get to work on my logo, lease, and product lines. It will be a great opportunity to let the folks in town know what's coming--a "green" gift shop! I have some things that I make that I will sell for sure (candles and body scrub and jewelry), but I'd like to get some other "mom" things before then. I've got a line on some fantastic-looking organic chocolates. And some really cute reusable totes. I can make some handmade cards. . .Hmmm. . .what else? I'm trying not to spend too much money so early on, so I'm looking for lines with low or no minimums. I can't wait to get the Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products, but that would make for a lousy Mother's Day gift--"here Mom, go clean the kitchen!"

Before that, on April 19, I'm doing the Berwyn Historical Society's antique show and sale. I had an antique mall booth years ago, and I'm still trying to get rid of some of that stuff. And I can't stop buying it, so there will be new old stuff too. Estate sales and thrift stores lure me in every time. That reminds me--I need to order the organic hand sanitizer soon.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Beginnings

Spring is in the air--we're having some April showers right now. The seeds are planted in the basement (not metaphorical seeds--real ones) and the grow lights shining through the glass block windows make the driveway look warm and us look like drug dealers.

It's a very happy time for us. I've decided to open a gift shop. During a recession. I know it sounds like a boneheaded move, but I have my reasons. . .

Reason #1: I have been looking for a job for over a year, and I can't seem to find one that suits me (or I them). I was starting to think that I wasn't cut out for retail, because I couldn't get an advertised job at a department store at Christmas. I am educated, well-spoken, decently groomed, and good with people. The major retailers these days have a new system of "testing" their potential employees via a web survey that takes about an hour to complete. These are multiple-choice questions that never have the answer of E) whatever store policy is. They give you all these probable scenarios of what could happen at this job and they ask what you would do. I'll do whatever you want me to. Give me a job. I have a friend who is in upper management at a large chain of specialty stores who said they have recently implemented this survey technique--and he said he would have failed it when he applied for his first job there as a salesman.

Reason #2: We moved to Berwyn 2 years ago and I noticed that there is a distinct gap in the shopping options around here. There's a Dollar Store every 3 blocks, a total of 3 Walgreens stores in the area, and a lousy mall nearby (and their Hallmark store just closed). That's about it. There are some lovely boutiques in neighboring suburbs, but with gas at $3.50/gallon right now, that's not cool. Plus, I prefer to support businesses in my own community. (I will say, we have a couple of good antique stores, though)

Reason #3: My interest in all things eco-friendly has been steadily increasing the last few years. I've always been a vegetarian/gardener/recyclist, but now I'm venturing into other territories--composting, natural cleaning products, natural health and beauty aids. And it's hard to find stuff that's local, not overly packaged, recyclable, made from recycled materials, etc.

Reason #4: Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved unique and charming gift shops. Luckily, the owner of The Gallery (the fabulous gift emporium of my childhood in small town Iowa) knew me, and that I wasn't a hoodlum. I'd ride my bike uptown and stand in her shop smelling every soap, candle, lip balm, and lotion. I'd hold things at different angles trying to decide which angle was the most flattering for the item. And I believe I would straighten and tidy her displays as I went. It took me weeks to save my allowance for the round candle that as it burned down would be lit from within like a beautiful stained glass church window. God, I loved that candle. I think it's in a drawer at my parents' house. I'm bringing it back with me the next time I visit.

So Fly Right Gifts, Inc. has been formed. The wholesale catalogs and web IDs are flowing in, and I am going to have a cute little store by summer. I'll list the products I'm going to carry in upcoming posts. Stay tuned for the adventures of Entreprenerd!!!