Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why a "final 90 days"?

Why did this business matter so much, enough that I thought it deserved a public send off, a blog chronicling the final days, a need to speak out before we're gone?

Well it mattered to me because of so many things - more than I could begin to count - but some of the important reasons are the history behind 35 years, the connections I have with so many people I know, the concept of standing for something by offering carefully selected products which are still made in the USA. 

For some people even one of these reason would have been enough cause to "not go quietly".....and that's something I've never been good at doing. I'm speaking up because to me it all matters; the decision to stop carrying certain items which after decades have shifted production from American soil to china; the choice to work with the limited schedule of a small company that no longer had the best delivery options - just so I could continue to sell their made in the USA products. Or the people that I've come to know over so many layers of years and seasons and too many reasons to begin to count that matter.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where it all began

Where it all began....

One day in 1979 someone decided to open a candy shop. I was 8 years old at the time and lived 150 miles away. It wasn't me or my relatives but that doesn't make the store's history any less important. I have records dating back to show the operations of the business continually through the years up until now. There were three owners before me and for almost all this time the store's name stayed the same. Apparently during either the second or third owner it was briefly named a close variation and then changed back. In a way I feel guilty being the one to close it up after all this time, as if I'm the one letting it go. After all, everyone else did keep it going all that time.

Sometime in 1995 a young couple from Virginia were itching to get out of the city area and move somewhere less hectic. Somewhere to open a small business maybe...a real estate ad in a local newspaper listed a shop for November the deal was done and the fourth owners had stepped into place.

#thefinal90 #closingforever #goodbye #momandpop #supportlocal #finallyclosing #after35years #beloved #localstore #sayinggoodbye #lettinggo #independent #business #smallretailer #memories #since1979 #endofanera 

Monday, July 28, 2014

What it's about: Introduction

The post below was written several years ago about the importance of buying American-made, why it matters, and supporting the businesses which continue to do that. Unfortunately, on Sunday I reluctantly posted the news that after 35 years we would be closing. Perhaps someone will read this and may realize how much goes into even the small decisions about what you buy and where it is made.

"You left anyway."

You heard me explaining just minutes ago to the other customers that our candies are born here in the USA; often by confectionery families with a tradition of high standards; dedicated to keeping their products USA-made. You saw me hand them some printed material, detailing the more-than-a-century life and journey of classic American favorites, which noted the commitment the family-owned company has offered for generations.

You barely glanced at the vintage wooden candy counters you might have stood at decades ago and bought sweets from as a child. Like our products, those old-time general store cases were assembled with skill - not inferior ingredients – joined together with care, commitment and real wood; lacking any screws, nuts or bolts.

But you decided to go. Your children were restless and demanding; fresh from the movie they had seen during the ride to the shore, they chanted that only the latest and greatest gummy cartoon character candy would do. And you didn't care to argue; stand up for principles; explain why we need jobs here in our country. You certainly didn't want to go into detail about why we must support our American companies – so people like your nice neighbor Mr. Frank, who was laid off from his job after 28 years – could remain employed. Because, when Mr. Frank was laid off as the company he worked for outsourced everything to China, he had planned on working a few more years just to keep his health benefits. See, his wife is ill; they will soon be able to get Medicare….but not now. And that “now” - the time between being an employed citizen and an over-65’er - could mean the loss of their home; savings; everything Mr. & Mrs. Frank have been working for their entire lives.

You didn’t want any drama. And it was certainly too “messy” to tell your kids how it’s not right to “demand” things, that the brand-new gummy candy of questionable ingredients might not be safe to eat – but after all, didn’t you just scan the online reports yesterday to be sure their toys were not the ones recalled, the ones that could leak poison into your babies delicate skin? If the toys were a concern to you, then why not the food they are whining for?

You left anyway. I never got a chance to show your children the shoestring licorice that would undoubtedly have been different from what they got in Walmart – because it IS different. Manufactured in an American facility - from a company who allows no raw ingredients from outside of the US - it would have been carefully screened for quality. You would have had no need to search Consumer Reports to see if this was laced with lead. Your young ones would have learned something; about responsibility; about commitment; seen dedication in the handmade walnut wood counters; heard pride in my words about selling something I didn’t have to question.

But you didn't see any of this; you didn't want to know….and if you don’t, neither will they. And today, I’m sad not just for myself, my business, the death of small independent retail shops, but also for people everywhere – just like Mr. Frank.


Today I feel that I simply cannot let go. It's just not working to look over the items in the store to decide which ones to discount and clear out, what to donate, toss or keep. I can't keep the business that was so very different years ago; many variables have changes of shoppers, the seasonal nature of this area, the economy, store expenses, etc. I've had my time; years; chances; opportunities. Maybe this wasn't my forte. Maybe I wasn't as good at being a proprietor as I thought. Maybe I should have moved on years ago and perhaps this is for the best.

And yet.....I can say all that and still want to go rip down the 50% off signs. I want to tear up the "Here's how to reach me" cards I printed up for my favorite people that I don't want to lose touch with. I want to stop hurting everyday; to not need to force back the tears that rise up during so many conversations, and I want to stop feeling like a piece of me is breaking inside. I want a chance to restructure; to tweak what I see needs changing; to sort out the slower selling items and perhaps focus on fewer of the most desirable things. I want to explain to the other half that now I see where some things need to be different, maybe that I didn't "get" before. Perhaps as I'm weeding out products and categories I've suddenly seen the light and would know how to reopen next spring better, more streamlined, profitable.

But despite what I think I see as possibilities I realize it's not just my choice. And, I've had time to try and improve the business over the last few years so if I could wouldn't it already have happened? Now there is some bitterness and I believe, jealousy over the time and money issues, so the chance to rebuild has likely passed me by. I thought I did everything I could but rather than accept this ending gracefully I'm still hoping for another chance. And yet, my time has run out here.