Thursday, May 29, 2008


I'm making some progress with the products that I've ordered. I'm almost to my projected self-imposed spending limit. I think we all know where that's going. . . Yup. I'll be going over it by a little bit. Like with most things I do that I don't intend to do, I can justify it: by saying that I made up the figure to spend, so I can adjust it to suit me. Plus, unlike buying an extra pair of shoes, I can make money from this spent money! See? I justified it!

So far, I've ordered a lot of cool, innovative stuff. I'm really excited to start receiving the packages and unpacking my treasures. It's really fun to shop wholesale--the prices are great, you get more than one of everything, and you can put it in your store, instead of having to make room for it in your house. Now, if I can just be sure to sell it all and not take it home with me, I'll be set!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Constructor Success!

Congratulations to Norah and Fly Bird on a very successful craft show. It was packed full of great artists and lots of buyers, too. I got to touch base with a few of my planned vendors for the store (Mosh Baby and Sheriff Peanut) and I met some great potential vendors too. They were all receptive to my consignment idea, which will be a blessing to me as I get up and running. In the future wholesale is an option, once I get a feel for what people really want around here.

I had a lot of contact with my neighbors on Memorial Day, due to some happenings on my block which brought everyone outdoors. They all seemed excited to hear about my store. Charlie across the street said he saw my little ad in the newspaper last week, too. It's so nice to know that not only my friends (who, for the most part, share my vision) but also other folks from different backgrounds feel like my store is a needed addition to the Berwyn scene. I have a rep coming over tomorrow to sell me more stuff for the store--luckily, I have my lists prepared and I refuse to be talked into buying more than I planned. Unless it's really cute. I will be strong.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Constructor Craft Fair

Here's the info for that craft show I mentioned. It sounds like it's going to be great!

Join Fly Bird and Sheriff Peanut
on Sunday, May 25th from 12-8pm
for the first ever CONSTRUCTOR Craft Fair.

CONSTRUCTOR will be held at FitzGerald's (6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn) and will give you the opportunity to shop goods from over 30 of the most talented crafters in the Chicagoland area, hand-picked by the Fly Peanut for your crafting pleasure. Your ears will revel in the sweet jams of local Dj's while you nosh on food from Wishbone and local pastry artisans. And, of course, the opportunity to belly up to the beloved bar at Fitzgerald's for a drink or two, should not be missed. The first 50 attendees at this event will receive a super fabulous bag of swag delight. Admission is FREE.
This exciting, inventive, design-loving craft experience is one you should be sure not to miss!

Practically Necessary
Practically Necessary aprons are for the woman who wants to cook, bake, and entertain in style. They're attractive enough for greeting guests and hearty enough to help with the dirty work.

Pock-it Palz
Hand sewn designer plush toys. Each Pock-it Pal has a pocket with a miniature pal inside.

Sew Bettie
Sew Bettie is a collection of adorable patterns and tutorials to inspire the crafty soul in you.

Eco-friendly lighting and interior homegoods designed from castaway car parts

I'm Smitten
Ashley Alexander's work as "I'm Smitten" has been featured in Venus and Punk Planet Magazines. Her wares have been sold in stores around the United States as well as in Mexico, Spain, Scotland, England and even Tasmania. Ashley puts images of everyday mysteries onto cards, and handbags, and t-shirts, so that everyone could have something a little bit pretty and a little bit strange to add to their day.

SuperKonductor is the shop of designer/printer David R. Head, Jr. and writer Jen Hazen. Creations include handmade, limited edition rock posters and calendars. For all things design, visit's blog and events calendar.

Sheriff Peanut
Sheriff Peanut has been lassoin' little doggies into her quirky brand of onesies and bibs for four years. But don't fret, big kids and adults, she's got tees for you too! Sheriff Peanut goods have been featured in such glamorous publications as Time Out Chicago, The Austin Statesmen, Venus, Bust, Love Chicago, Pregnancy & Childbirth, and more. She's an Aries, in case you wondered.

The multi-craftical mind of Carole Plese brings you an eclectic mix of whatever she feels like making at any given moment. Her booth will have baby shoes, stained glass jewelry, furniture, stationary and more.

Whimsical mugs and housewares for the hard-to-buy-for geek on your list. Each rescued mug has been designed and hand-painted and fired with non-toxic, non-lead based paint. All items suitable for the microwave and dishwasher friendly.

Kiku Handmade
after spending a few years making children, and finally quitting her real job, laurie freivogel went to her first "indie craft fair" (depart-ment) in march of 2004. she was so inspired by the amazing goods she saw that she went and bought a kiln and taught herself how to fuse glass. soon after, her business kiku was born. she makes fused glass jewelry + belt buckles, but gets bored easily and has added sewing, knitting and other crafting to her bag. she is no longer making children.

My Favorite Mirror
My Favorite Mirror puts the FUN in functional with our artsy giftware items featuring the officially licensed artwork of over 30 amazing indie artists! Nothing over $20.

Johnny Sampson
I am a freelance illustrator in Chicago. I like drawing, painting, silk screening and making novelty items. This is my first craft fair ever, and I feel that it's in really good hands. Berwyn here I come!

Cafe Le Baron
Home of the bacon-chocolate chip cookie!

Oh My Golly
Oh My Golly! is a one-woman craft extravaganza run by Lacey Whittaker. Lacey mostly makes hand-made unique soaps, but also dabbles in other crafty-ness such as sassy pillows, pouches, and hand-stitched notebooks. Lacey loves cupcakes, baby animals, and you.

At Souldier, all of our products are handmade in Chicago. We do not outsource to other agents and pride ourselves on the craftsmanship of our product. Our products are not designed for the masses, but for those are committed to their craft. Show your Soul!

Nevin Peters Woodworking
handmade hardwood goods and furniture

Mosh Baby
mosh baby provides unique one-of-a-kind shirts for babies, toddlers and kids. Drawing inspiration from contemporary tattoo artwork, Japanese animation, and edgy urban designs, mosh baby offers an exciting alternative to everyday toddler wear.

One-of-a-kind clothing and accessories for children and babies made mainly from recycled and vintage materials

Edgy Petal
Edgy Petal jewelry and magnets are handcrafted from recycled bottlecaps. Each piece is a mini wearable piece of art that is good for the environment too!

Grandpa Dirt
Grandpa Dirt makes bracelets from rescued materials: Hobolink bracelets from soda cans & clothespin springs, Perky Button bracelets & brooches from antique buttons, Smart People T-shirts and lacquered paper brooches.

Moxie Doll
Moxiedoll creates retro inspired goods for book lovers and media junkies.

Subversive Seamstress
I sell a variety of accessories from ipod cases and laptop covers to clutches and hobo bags. I strive to give thrift store table cloths, curtains, & more a new life, creating unique, high quality pieces that are also eco-friendly.

Knotty Needle
Knotty Needle creates embroidered pillows and tea towels, inspired from tatooists of a bygone era, and traditional folk designs, the tinted embroidery and vintage fabrics make the pillows a modern take on a classic craft. And just like at your favorite tattoo studio, custom orders are welcome. Additionally, we created the "WOOLEN BEASTIE". these one of-a-kind, hand crafted friends are constructed of wool felt and stitched together with a mother's loving care (and embroidery floss). There are no small plastic parts to come off and find their way into your little darling's mouth , and the only other ingredients in the BEASTIES themselves are Love, and imagination, and polyester stuffing.

The Nerfect Experience (Live!)
Headquartered in beautiful Berwyn, Illinois, Nerfect Worldwide manufactures a wide variety of fine ephemera and novelties featuring the
artwork of gentleman artist Mr. Walters. These delightful items include stickers, buttons, t-shirts, handcrafted stuffed toys, original artwork,
and many more surprises.

Beautiful hand sewn & quilted items. Felt wallets, purses, pouches, wristlets, and more. Impeccable quality in each one-of-a-kind piece.

Leslie Hamer
Custom Wedding Art and Portraits.

Mabel Handbags
One-of-a-kind and handmade handbags made by Jessica Miller-Webster in Chicago, IL. Large, slouchy totes and colorful clutches, each with a unique contrasting lining for the inner child in all of us.

Stuffed Animals and accessories.

Sarah Burden
Reclaimed plates, mugs and bowls, made new again with hand drawn and hand fired designs

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ten more days until I get the space!!!!!!!

June first I will get the keys to my new store. This is mind-boggling at this point! I still have so much to do at home (like make a bunch of product to sell in the store) before I start working over there. I really won't know how much I need to do over there until Janet is out--there will be some lighting issues, some painting, and some windowscaping to do, and then it's move in all my display fixtures and fill 'em up and get inspected, and then open for business. Oh yeah, and I have tons more product to order, and consignments to get together. I keep learning of local artists that are a good fit with my vision, so that's encouraging. Most of them are willing to do consignment--that's a win/win for me. The ones who aren't willing to do consignment probably won't make the cut, at least not until I get a better feel for what people around here are looking for.

I met with my accountant today. That sentence barely makes sense to me--MY accountant? I have an accountant. Wow. He said it sounds like I'm on the right track. Bear in mind he's an accountant and not a retail expert, but it made me feel good to hear him say it. I've known him for years, and it's good to have a professional relationship with someone who "gets" me. The other professional relationships I have so far didn't seem like such a good comfortable fit.

There's a great craft show taking place on Sunday at Fitzgerald's. It's a lot of local artists and craftspeople--a lot of whom will be in my store, and maybe a lot who will be that I haven't even discovered yet! I'll have to print up a little synopsis of my store to give them--I don't want to monopolize their time when they could be selling stuff. I'll come back and add the details about the show soon. Right now I'm going to bed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Chicago Green Festival Summary

Okay, before I tell you about the show, I will say thank God organic cotton is easy to stretch. The women's XL looked to be a size 12. So I took a men's. It was about a 16.

Pros of Chicago Green Festival 2008:
* great food samples of all my favorite treats--and new ones too
* coupons for many of those treats
* great book selection in the book section
* cool kid activities and vendors
* great complimentary magazines that I now want to subscribe to
* good restaurants selling food in the food court area
* lots of great resources for green building/remodeling
* good local agency representation
* the show was a do-able size
* green investment peddlars (one wanted $25,000 to invest before he'd meet with you, though!)
* great alternative transportation information
* lots of energy-saving information

Cons of Chicago Green Festival 2008
* uninformed volunteers (me included)
* Navy Pier sucks
* not enough bathrooms
* not enough information on the website beforehand to make people want to go
* not enough publicity for the event in general

Okay, that last one may not be true--I'm kind of a media avoider, although I do listen to NPR and WGN--the two radio stations they should target IMHO.

When we got there, nobody gave us any show information (there was a guide with a map that we found as we were leaving--this would have made us better-informed volunteers). When we were assigned our "posts" we were just told to greet people and answer their questions which would have been easier had we been given the show guide when we got there. Their main question was "where is there another bathroom?" We heard some complaints about there not being enough garbage cans, but I thought that the garbage/recycling/composting stations were plentiful and well-run. I think next year you should get a toothpick when you walk in, and that is your toothpick for all the sampling all day. A lot of trees died for the sampling. . . The other complaint we heard was that the box office was all the way at the end of the building, so you had to walk past all the fun activities to get there (it was pretty far from the show entrance). Navy Pier is not my favorite place, so I'd be all for them having it somewhere else in the future. To get to the show you had to walk all the way down the pier (inside or out) and past the arcades, foodsellers, tacky gift shops, etc. It was a little chilly out to walk outdoors, but we did on the way out just to avoid the chaos that is Navy Pier.

Overall it was a worthwhile event. I think they should lower the admission price a bit--it was $15, but you got a discount for lots of things (riding your bike, taking the bus or train, being a certain age. . . all of which you can't really prove). Some people had free passes that they got in the mail without ordering them. Just make it ten bucks, and give discounts if you want to.

I didn't make it to any of the speakers, but some friends did. They said I didn't miss anything because I already have a handle on what being green means. It was kind of a beginner level lecture series, I guess. They were disappointed about that, but it made me feel better!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chicago Green Festival

Tomorrow my friend Chersten and I are volunteering at the Chicago Green Festival. I believe we are supposed to be box office lobby greeters. It was one of the few positions they needed to fill that didn't require heavy lifting. We prefer not to lift heavy things. Speaking of heavy things--we are. And they're providing us T-shirts to wear during our shift, and we are praying that they have big roomy T-shirts for their plus-size volunteers. I will probably lose sleep over this tonight. . .visions of the last shift of the weekend, and all they have left are mediums. . .
The word V O L U N T E E R spaced way across my front (or back). Apart from the slight chance of wardrobe malfunction, I am looking forward to participating in this event. We're going to try to get there early so we can scope out the show before we get started greeting. It also mentioned crowd control/security as part of our job. I'm sure that my bossy badass self can handle that aspect of it. And my sweet helpful friendly side will come in handy, too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Surprising Finds at Aldi

For those of you who know me well, it will come as no surprise that I am an Aldi shopper. It's cheap and it's near my house. And Aldi is one of the greenest stores I can think of--they don't throw away their boxes, they give them to customers to carry their food in. They encourage the reusing of their bags (or the bringing of your own) by charging you for them (they're quite high quality, too, so you would definitely not throw them out). They don't spend money on trendy displays or energy-hogging light fixtures.

Their food is very high quality, and they have a double guarantee--if you're not satisfied, they will refund your money, and replace your product. They have organic blue corn tortilla chips (the Fit and Active brand) that are low fat and delicious. Their higher-end pasta sauces have no weird ingredients or high fructose corn syrup. They have recently started carrying green tea in tea bags that have no metal--so you can just throw them on the compost pile without stabbing yourself trying to pry open the staples. They have whole grain breads. Their butter is cheap, and its ingredients are cream and salt. The cheese isn't bad either--they have a delightful Dill Havarti. It's really not that hard to find almost everything you need there, and they've recently increased their produce section to include a lot more fresh vegetables and fruits (mostly conventionally grown).

Other things to love:
Your car (or bike)is safe from wayward carts, because you "rent" a cart for a quarter, ensuring that people will return their carts to get their two bits back. It really is a model of a well-run store. They don't have nearly as many employees as most grocery stores, because they don't need them to wrangle carts, break down boxes, or straighten the displays. It takes a little getting used to, but the money you can save makes up for having to bag your own groceries--and let's face it. Sometimes it's better that way.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day visit recap

Well, I've just returned from Iowa with a vanload of stuff to use in the store, and some awesome vintage jewelry components to give a new life. It was a short visit, but well worth the time--both materially, and to just spend some time with the folks. Mom and I had a lovely girls' day on Monday. She wanted to show me all the great gift shops they have in Pella. They have a lot of gift shops in Pella. It's a little Dutch town complete with windmills and a Tulip Festival (which was the first weekend in May). She introduced me to one of the owners and told her about my entrepreneurial endeavor (which at first was embarrassing, but then Barb was gushing about what a great idea a green gift shop was--something Mom had not been entirely convinced of until then). You see, I think she wanted to show me all the cool stuff I could sell, if only I wasn't going to be so green. For everything she showed me, or mentioned, I countered with a greener alternative. Either I changed her mind, or she just gave up.

After our tour of quaintness, we headed out to the Tassel Ridge winery for a little tour and tasting. Then we stopped and looked at plants at a couple of greenhouses and went to a well-deserved lunch. Oh yeah, and I got her to go to the Pella Thrift Store. This is just short of a miracle. She has amazing potential in the thrifting arena--she knew I was looking for vintage Pyrex refrigerator dishes, and she spotted some before I did! And she hid any grossed-out feelings she may have been having. She even approved of the vintage bassinet I bought to use as a display for my baby section! Who said you can't teach an old broad new tricks?

One of her Mother's Day gifts was that I reconditioned her butcher block table. They got it about 28 years ago, and it was starting to look tired. One of my potential (and now certain) vendors had sent me some samples of their natural furniture cleaning/conditioning products, so I took the butcher block conditioner to them for a trial. Wow. Howard Naturals is now on my A list.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Debut

I am quite happy with the way the Bloom -n- Zoom turned out! Lots of Berwynites came by considering it was a Saturday morning. I sold a little bit of everything that I brought, which makes me think that I selected good products with acceptable price points. And the wrap-n-mats went over big--that was probably my "greenest" item (and it really is a fabulous idea). Got a lot of people signed up for the email list, and I passed out quite a few business cards with the website on them. I think that it was a good confidence booster and I'm even more excited to get the store up and running. The Depot District Merchants' Association had a table there too, and they were pimping my store and all the others in the neighborhood too. They got people to sign up for our collective mailing list as well. There are a lot of things happening in the District throughout the year, so that will be a good way to remind people of those (antique car cruise nights, Oktoberfest, Christmas events, etc.).

So now I'm off to Iowa to spend Mother's Day with mine. I'll get to browse their basement for props for the store too!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bad News about the Rain Barrel

Well, I have a disappointing report on our rain barrel (and this is only OUR rain barrel, not a universal disappointment). It has been pouring all morning, and our rain barrel has a hole in it! Jon ran in to tell me about it on his way off to work. He tried to duct tape it, but it was so wet and he was in a hurry. So I went out to inspect. Yup. It's a leak alright. I tried to dry it and tape it some more--that helped a little. I made a duct tape spout (kind of) and tried to channel the gushing water into the watering can. When that started to fill up it slipped off the precarious perch I had it wedged on. Not cool. Then my inner MacGyver came into play, and I found one of those wide elastic belts that were popular in the 50s and the 80s. Now I'm a big gal, but I'm not rain barrel big. Luckily, elastic gets really loose as it ages, so with a lot of muscle, I was able to cinch the rain barrel with my old belt! We now win the most well-dressed rain barrel award. The rain sounds like it's letting up a bit, so I may go out there and try to dry and retape it, and then I'll put the cute little belt back on it. Now I'm thinking that an old tire inner tube would work well (although it wouldn't be so stylish). Hmmm. . . where to get one of those. . .

--12 hours later--

Well, my search for inner tubes led me to Pomp tire in McCook. They repair truck tires, and when I told them I'd take busted ones, they were more than willing to help me out. I took all the ones they had (about 5). Now I'm trying to decide what to make out of my newfound supplies. . . I only need a small part of one of them for the rain barrel. Truck tires are really big. There's a company in the UK called English Retreads, or something like that, that makes cool purses out of old tubes. I wanted them for the store, but I'm trying to keep it all relatively local. Plus the shipping would kill me price-wise, and pollution-wise.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It's raining, it's pouring. . .

. . . and I'm thrilled! I just came in from planting seeds in the garden. We're running out of room out there. Jon went nuts with the ones he planted inside, so we have about 50 little tiny tomato plants--I don't know what we'll do if they all make it! And our neighbor's (adult) daughter gave me 3 tomato plants last night. They were called "Mr. Stripey" so I couldn't refuse. I can't wait to try striped tomatoes! Today I planted spinach and cilantro. I'm so happy that the rain came after I planted them and not during it all.

Another reason to rejoice about the rain: we bought (and installed) a rain barrel! It almost made me cry to hear Jon sawing away at our copper downspout (it's so pretty and patina-ed) but now that it's up, we can save money on water for the garden, give the plants fresh, unchemicalized water, and keep the storm sewers flowing properly. It's a win/win/win situation. You can purchase rain barrels at Green Home Experts in Oak Park (there's a link to their website at the bottom of this page). We got ours from the Water Reclamation District. It's just for Cook County residents, but I think most municipalities are offering them. I've linked to their site--click on the title of this post, if you're local. We put ours up on cement blocks so the watering can fits neatly under the spigot. I think a lot of our neighbors got one on Saturday. Scott and Suzanne, Chuck and Diane, and Jon and I all were installing them at the same time. Chuck gets first prize for efficiency, Scott for attractiveness. His is up on decorative rocks, not cement blocks. We get the prize for judging the "contest".

Monday, May 5, 2008

Act locally!

We've all heard the saying, "Think globally, act locally". This is a main focus for my store. But I wanted to get my business cards printed on recycled card stock with biodegradable inks. What's a girl to do? There is a web printer called that seemed like the perfect one to do my business cards. But I thought I should check with the local guy--Able Printing Services, who is right across the tracks from my store at 6837 Stanley Avenue. Well, Able does all kinds of green printing! They were totally helpful, and they'll have them done a lot sooner than the web place. And I can just pick them up and save on shipping and the pollution that comes with it. I guess my point is this: just because you don't know if there's a local resource for what you're looking for, just ask! I really didn't think that Berwyn would have such a great printer. And their shop has been family-owned and operated right here for over 35 years. Who knew?

The Bloom -n- Zoom is going to have a lot of flowers and plants to put in your garden, and they are being sold by a local greenhouse. Where do the plants at Home Depot come from? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure they're not from around here. We just need to think more about local resources--which is easier to do now that gas is almost $4/gallon. Yeah, the plants might be a little more expensive, but they're probably worth it, for many reasons.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Countdown to Bloom -n- Zoom!

I have less than seven days until my first official Fly Right Gifts appearance. I've been getting products in, and I'll have them for sale in my tent. So far, I have
* cotton dishtowels from Red & White Kitchen
* reusable totes
* handmade soaps from Sunfeather
* Sjaak's organic chocolates
* cooking sauces from Rozana Cuizine
* Wrap-n-Mat reusable sandwich wrappers/placemats
* table cloths and napkins
* Kraptacular Krafts candles in vintage glassware (that's a Fly Right exclusive)
* organic sugar body scrubs (another exclusive)
* earrings made from reclaimed vintage beads
* locally handmade cards
* recycled glass candle holders

And special guest exhibitor [wired] featuring men's and women's jewelry made from recycled industrial materials! She'll bring it all for the B-n-Z, and I'll have a smaller sampling in the store.

You can click on the title of this post to see the official Bloom -n- Zoom info from the Berwyn Development Corporation.

Now I have to get work making displays, candles, body scrub, and praying that the weather is nice. Keep your fingers crossed. . .