Fall is perfect for transitions. Nick and I have brainstorming sessions for the shop periodically and our most recent one has been the most fruitful, I believe. This year has been really exciting/terrifying all at the same time. I knew if I didn't jump now I never would. While this transition into being a full time vintage seller has been what I longed for and I love what I do now, it has not been easy. While sales have improved drastically after I went full time they have been trending around the same month to month rather than growing. We had to face these facts and brainstorm solutions to grow the business. What we realized is that we need repeat customers. We need people to return to our shop time and time again because they love our product and it makes them feel good to be in our shop. I have a lot of interests. I enjoy the pretty, to the quirky, to the rustic, to the kitch, to the downright weird. While it's fine for me to enjoy all different aspects, my shop has been suffering because of it. My office and storage feels like it is bursting at the seams and all the while I feel I must continue to find more, to list more, in order to get views and make sales. While this helps, it is only a temporary solution. We realized the shops we really admire and aspire to all have something in common: cohesion. To get repeat customers you need customers who like your whole shop and not just one item. The whole shop needs to reflect our customer's taste.
The idea of shifting focus, or rather tightening focus, excited me. When thoughts like this flickered through my head previously I brushed them aside. It would be too much work to start over, to retake all these photos, to search for new product. But now, talking with Nick, it made sense. Yes, this is the solution. This is the answer.
I knew the transition would take time. I invested a lot of time and money into my current inventory and I didn't want to just give it away. It also makes me a little sad to know that those 1950's dresses I just bought won't be making a splash in the shop. I realized I love a 1950's dress as much as the next girl, but there are so many shops that shape their image and inventory around that. We want to be fresh. We want to set our own trends and taste, not just follow what is popular and sure to get attention. What hole can we fill on etsy? How can we stand out in a sea of vintage?
Nick and I always are best when we make joint decisions for the shop, whether it be business decisions or picking inventory. We pick the best product when we are together. We keep each other in check and balance each other's taste. We've been working on defining our core customer and creating a story of who our shop is about. I have worked really hard this week deciding what will stay and what will go, being extremely critical and thoughtful with my buying choices, and chanting the mantra "quality not quantity" when it comes to photos and listings. I have been really happy and energized with the results. Nick's challenge to me was to "be obsessed", and I am.
Our shop is starting to take shape again, slowly. I feel like our product and feel in our new photos finally makes sense with our name, Maple Vintage. It's warm, masculine and a deep breath of the outdoor fresh air. With our new focus we were finally able to purchase supplies for business cards and packaging in time for going into the Holiday season. I am really happy. I am enjoying taking a step back, slowing down and really making thoughtful choices.
Our two year anniversary is coming up and I am so thankful to have a partner in life who shares my passion, believes in me and pushes me to become better, even when I resist. I am really lucky.