Monday, February 08, 2010

Finding a Balance...

I wasn’t expecting my last blog post to spark-off quite the debate that it did – but I thank you for your input! I really just wrote the few lines to express my thoughts at the time, but the comments have made me think that I need to make up my mind quickly, before I end up upsetting, annoying or generally getting people in a tizzy! My shop’s opening hours have been a huge dilemma for me and I have been round and round in circles in my thinking. I could make a very long list of the fore and against of opening/closing on certain days, but having been open now for three weeks I feel I am at a point to know how best to proceed…

I went to see Sue at Dairy House yesterday and we had a long chat – also whilst I was there I was able to talk to Chloe who has a lovely antiques shop in Romsey, and who just happened to be at Dairy House shopping too. Whenever I speak to shop owners, they totally understand when I say I need to be closed for 3 days in order to have time for finding stock. (Chloe is only open for 4 days a week.) I also had a very sensible comment from Kay on my last post; and it does seem to me that other shop owners can fully appreciate where I am coming from regarding getting the balance right between treasure hunting and being open to offer the goods for sale.

Unlike your ‘average’ shop, I cannot get on the phone and order several boxes of stock from a wholesaler and have it delivered to my shop’s door the next day. Searching for antiques/vintage goods is time consuming. Also, finds often need to be laundered and pressed, perhaps repaired, and generally cleaned up a little before they can be offered for sale.

During the short time that I have been open, the end of the week has been my successful selling days and have already set a pattern that Tues, Thurs, Fri and Saturdays are the best ones….I know its very early days and things could easily change, but at the moment it isn’t worth me driving over to Shepton Mallet if my petrol costs and lunch aren’t even going to be covered by takings! (Closing half day on Wednesday would therefore be of no benefit.)

You need to know that Shepton is not a buzzing town that is busy with shoppers – if it were, then I would be less reluctant to close, but until the regeneration really takes off, it will only be the odd person walking past that I may be able to entice in…(I would consider opening for longer/more days if Shepton does move on to be the town it once was…) Spring/summer may be a turning point and a time to reevaluate again, so I’ll just have to see…

Also, Wednesdays are generally antique auction days, so to have the time to visit them could be useful. Sunday will always be my best buying day as I have a long list of outlets and contacts built up over the years.

At the moment I cannot afford to pay for someone to cover my not being at the shop; besides, the added employee’s insurance (a lot more than public liability) and other bookkeeping that I would need are additional bills that I don’t want right now! Running a shop is a very costly exercise and it would be very easy to make no profit at the end of the day unless care is taken to minimise outgoings.

Having another day at home may also mean that I can start to list a few pieces for my on-line shop again…Talking to my landlord this week, (who happens to be a very successful entrepreneur, so I value his advice)- he feels that retail has changed over the years and so it is very important for small businesses to be more than just an open shop, and to have other outlets for making up the shortfall now that less and less people are shopping on the high streets…Fairs are another thing I want to do as well.

Giving the right impression to the visitors to my shop is very important to me. If I can’t keep my shop stocked with the right merchandise, then there is little point to me having it. It is vital to me to have the pretty items that I love, that are also generally affordable, on offer for sale. If I haven’t much time to search for new stock, or to sew, then it will become a mish-mash and won’t work.

I have heard from several people when I’ve spoken to them about my shop hours, that other shops such as ‘Girls Own Store’ in Bridport now only sell ‘new vintage’, as the owners can no longer find the time to search for vintage goods. I don’t want to get into that situation. I know from having a shop around seven years ago, how much harder it now is to find the lovely vinategy pieces that everyone wants. There are far more people chasing the same things these days, especially in the South West!! I now have to travel longer distances in the hope of finding the right merchandise.

Belinda and Wayne of No21 are working together in their shop, so can give each other time away from it to perhaps buy and also work on the other sides to their business…doing everything myself means I need an extra day to source/sew/and design. I have always been a hardworking person and am happy to continue in order to create a small business that works for me and my customers.

I had to close my first shop seven years ago because I felt it was impacting on family life too much…I have sacrificed a lot for the happiness of my family over the last 22 years and now I feel it is time to make me happy -so getting the right balance between my new business and the other things that are important in my life is imperative. But most fundamental to me is having a shop that I can be proud of; to enjoy being there and to offer its visitors the things they want to buy. I am very content with how things have gone so far and who knows how things may change in the future - I may need to adapt again, but for now I’m going to do what I think is best for the survival of my business and in creating the prefect nostalgic environment.

I could go on and on, but I do feel I am concluding that I need to have Wednesdays away from the shop as well. If people like to shop at the beginning of the week, then they can visit me on a Tuesday, otherwise Thursday, Friday Saturday will hopefully continue to be my busier days…

The photographs that accompany this post are some of the items that will find their way into my shop over the next week.

Hope you have a great one!
Niki x

Hand painted snow bunting.


  1. This makes a whole lot of sense, Niki. With my tiny little occasional blog shop, I can just begin to imagine how difficult it is four you to stock an entire, and very high-quality, store. I haven't read the other comments from your last post, but I quite understand that you are going to need to have some closed days in order to keep up your high standards. In France I think that this is more commonly understood (thinking back to your lovely French shop that almost didn't open for you).

  2. Hi Niki

    You have spent a lot of time and thought looking in to this. Some very good points have been raised. It all makes a lot of sense and I am sure that it will pay off. ;-)

    Take care
    Isabelle x
    PS: Very nice looking new stock!

  3. Julie, Oxford2:35 pm

    Hi Niki, its torture looking at all the lovely things you have on offer and not be able to buy any of them, especially the hand made things which I adore. Still I will be travelling the 2 and abit hours to see you within the next couple of months if not sooner, I will make sure I stock up with lots of purchases. I am sure everything will work out fine with the opening and closing hours...its still such early days and must be such a huge change in your life (you know what they say, you cant please all of the people all of the time). All the best. Julie.

  4. Anonymous3:06 pm

    I've found the answer Niki...what all of us busy girls need is 8 days to the week instead of 7...just haven't quite worked out how to get it though?!
    Some shops down here (South Devon) only open for 3 consecutive days (Thurs, Fri & Sat) during the winter months!
    You'll find the balance, I'm sure!
    Looking lovely!
    Amanda xxx(Shabby Chick)

  5. Hi Niki
    You have to find the balance, but the most important thing that you mentioned is keeping true and stocking the real thing!
    There is nothing more annoying than adverts that say vintage (and not vintage style etc..), it is difficult to keep up the supply but it will be worth it.
    Do try not to lose any sleep, I think that you know what you are doing and that all of us that want to visit will do so around your opening times.

  6. Niki,
    I also haven't read the last post's comments either.
    I sit here and read your beautiful BLOG and dream about being able to do what you do. With the ability of your skill, your passion, super writing and taste I feel I can achive my wishes by living it with you.
    Thank you for still being able to find the time to share your adventure with us and never feel you have to explain reasons for your actions. I trust in you that what you are doing is far better than I could ever do, whilst I salivate at your fabulous photos and style.
    Thank you Honey.
    C. x

  7. Bless you Claire and thank can be difficult when you feel your actions are coming up for scrutiny...I am very grateful for your sweet comment. Hope you will fulfil all your goals in life too.
    Take care,
    Niki x

  8. I think the photos of your lovely new stock, sum it up, when would you have the time to buy them? The right thing is whatever is right for you and your shop.

  9. Niki, you must do what is best for you. What is the good of it all if you are not happy and content? Do what you need to do and not what others expect of you. Coming from another like you who has sacrificed their whole life for their family. Ive decided this year to try and be a tiny bit selfish (well trying...!)
    Betty x

  10. well its very simple - can't see the problem - take Wednesday off;-)

    People would not have got used to your times yet so now is the time to change without causing confusion. Once people know your days they will time it to come on those days, also put the days and times on a big board in the window ... or on a black board outside ... we need the times in our faces as sometimes little signs can be ignored. Some of us are a bit thick ... like me LOL.

    Enjoy shopping for stock and don't feel guilty ... its your shop ... do what you want ... :-))

    best wishes Ginny x

  11. Hi Niki

    Well that was better out than in, wasn't it!!!! I'm guessing you now feel much better and know exactly where you're heading!!!!

    BTW, Chloe's shop is no longer in Warminster, but in Romsey after a move a few months ago, but regardless of where, she still only opens 4 days.

    Thanks for your purchases yesterday!

    Sue xx

  12. Hi Niki

    Haven't seen the replies on your last post yet but I can only say that you must do what suits you and means your shop can be the best it can.

    I know that anyone who works in retail gets a lot of hassle and from my own experiences working in an estate agent for the last few years you'd think we deliberately close on Sundays just to upset and put out a few people ;)

    I adore that square dish with the flowery corners by the way!

    Mel xxx

  13. Dear Niki
    What a great post! As I read through, it was so clear that YOU are clear about what you want for the shop/business and how you want to do it. It has to be what is right for you as you ARE Nostalgia at No.1, and without your own unique selection of goods and your own beautiful creations, there would not be a Nostalgia shop for us all to enjoy. I am so pleased that you have found a way forward that is right for you. As you say, come summertime it may change. But you have to give yourself enough time to source and stock the business as well as having down time when you can be free of the business. I could write so much more, but will stop now. I hope to come to see you again soon. Take care - and hooray! that Nostalgia is yours and yours alone!
    Happy days, dear Niki,
    Denise x

  14. Hi Niki
    Everyone wants seven days a week shopping now. However I believe the small 'boutique' culture is is about creating beautiful shopping experiences and providing unusual pieces that you cant buy anywhere else. If you get it right (which is already evident) customers will soon get used to your hours. Enjoy.....Bx

  15. A sensible decision you say when things change in SM you could think it through again but its so important to have time to source all the wonderful things the shop has. Good luck with it all

  16. Guenievre8:32 am

    I understand very well what you mean. You want to do your best ( I don't know if my sentence is "good English ...)
    C'est tout à fait normal que vous ayez besoin de temps pour constituer le stock de votre superbe boutique.
    Je pense que les clients comprendront. Vous avez des objets de qualité. Vintage is "old" not "new"
    Bon courage et vivez la vie dont vous rêvez le plus possible.

  17. Hi Niki,
    It is so important when you are running a shop selling genuine one-off pieces that you give yourself at least two days a week to source the stuff. I have found that opening just three days a week (as I do for most of the year) concentrates customers to come on those days and you will be busier on those days as a result. I can't wait to visit in person, next antiques fair at Shepton will be the occasion! My very best wishes to you in this new enterprise. Shepton Mallet really did need some shaking up!

  18. I wish you much luck with your new shop. I too am scheduled to open my shop on Feb. 28th ! I've heard alot from people about the store hours I've chosen too but like you said you still need time to go out there and hunt down those treasures. I'm sure the hours in my shop may change down the road and I too plan on keeping my online Etsy shop. Stop by my blog for my first glimpse of my shop.
    I've already done so much more since taking the pictures so I will be posting some more progress.
    :o) Sue

  19. I can really relate to this post, as I am also an antique dealer. I sell in two antique malls, therefore I don't have to be there every day for my things to sell, and I can be out sourcing new goods just about any day (I also have a full-time job unrelated to antiques). Anyway, antique dealers have always had the luxury of setting more flexible hours, and I think most customers recognize that. Good luck with your new endeavor!

  20. Hi Niki...I'm glad you found something in what I said on the last post!!! the end of the day Niki its your business and you must do what you are happy with...there will always be some-one who will moan!!!..I can feel you twisting yourself into knots long as the hours are shown people will soon 'get it'..and if your website address is also on the hours they can aways email you if there is something they can see but can't get at!!! Take care.xx

  21. Hi Niki...I love your shop and all your wonderful creations. I think you should do what you love and find the balance that works for YOU. Keep showing us your lovely pictures as they truly inspire me. ENJOY!

  22. Anonymous1:57 pm

    What your experiencing is very common where I live too. My very favorite shop is only open on Sat. and Sun. It's a husband and wife team that spend the rest of the time in search of inventory and reconditioning them for sale and setting up their very rustic warehouse. I think the fact they're only open on Sat. and Sun. has really worked well. Everyone knows that's when you have to go there. They space is so large it would be financially impossible to keep the place warm and in the summer we have very hot, humid summers.
    It reminds me of the best places to eat around here. Everyone wants to go when it's a small cozy enviroment. It seems often the owners don't get people WANT to go because it's not always just there. They'll expand and add more days and suddenly business goes down. It's not special anymore. I hope I make sense.

  23. Niki, congrats on your new shop! I hope to come visit in late March, when we're in the UK. Wish I were closer as I have tons of vintage and antiqe things I want to sell before our move to Amsterdam early next year. Two antique dealers have bought many things, but there's lots more! :) Your shop looks charming and I can't wait to see it in person.

  24. Whatever you decide to do I am sure it will be the right one for you, I love to visit your blog to see how you are doing. I hope one day I get the opportunity to visit your part of the country and visit. Best of luck. Sue x


Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx