Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Store I Want...

I talk a lot online about running my indie boutique in the small town of Ponchatoula.  Some days, it is just lovely, as I'll be closing up after a busy day and I look over and see the setting sun through the big live oak that borders our property and canopies main street.  Other days, someone walks in without shoes and wants to use the bathroom.  I guess that happens anywhere...right???

Beginning this month, I received my shipment from Go Gift Box...such an awesome service for gift retailers, sending a box of products to review each month.  In it was, by far my most favorite item of any month.  Fortune Keepers.

These amazing handmade double sided necklaces - a lovely image on one side and a place to hold a Chinese cookie fortune on the opposite (or, really any inspirational message).  Besides being well made (in Brooklyn, NY) it's packaged in the cutest, reusable tin with and inspirational note inside based on the image used in the necklace.  I was seriously sold.  But for everything I examine for the brick and mortar shop - I have to play devils advocate - or better yet, I have to be the lady in socks that just needs to pee.

So I asked myself - is there anyway my customers are going to "get this"?  I kept hearing in my head a lot of questions of "What is it??"  "Do you have one with Justin Beiber on it?"  and most likely - "I don't even eat Chinese"  So, after some soul searching and a request of the really nice people at Fortune Keepers to lower the minimum, I decided this was a product for the store that I actually want.  I see a customer that takes their time in the shop, makes careful and meaningful decisions and when purchasing something it is more than just buying into another commodity, it's a lifestyle choice or affrimation.

Happily, they arrived this week - I was able to price and merchandised them yesterday and no sh*tting - within two hours in this sleepy town, I had sold two!  I hope that's not it, but I'm delighted.

Honestly, the final push to order came from the strangest of places.  Anyone watching A Chef's Life on PBS?  It is a reality show featuring chef Vivian Howard who ventures back to her hometown in rural North Carolina to open an upscale restaurant.  In the first episode she describes a place similar to Ponchatoula where $2 for ice tea is scoffed at and most people think she's crazy for trying to execute a fine dining on a level similar to New York City, but somehow - someway, they've held on for over 5 years (just like us).  I wish these small towns would wrap their arms around their sons and daughters that return home and continue to encourage them to aspire to great things.  I don't think any of us small town visionaries aspire to turn our towns into metropolises - just smart, well-loved local havens...that wear shoes, please.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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