Diary of a Small Business Owner (6/9/20) - What Growth Looks Like
The last time I wrote, I wished that our store would be beautiful again.
I was wrong.
Today, we officially moved out of our longtime flagship retail store location inside the Nashville Farmers' Market. After extended negotiations with the Market staff and board, we couldn't find something that worked for both of us. What we suggested didn't work for them. What they suggested didn't work for us.
So we moved. Because we're growing.
You can now find us in the Farm Sheds, seven days a week with a selection of locally-made products, available to take home immediately or ship nationwide.
Like I said, a lot has happened since I last wrote. But even bigger than moving our store, was this: we recorded our best May in our seven years doing this.
Of our record-breaking month this year, only 9% came from in-person retail. Last year, retail accounted for 75% of our May sales. This year, customers shopped online for Mom and other gifts, we raised more money for COVID-19 relief with your purchases, and we sent corporate gifts for new and loyal customers in lieu of conferences and as a way to keep employees motivated working from home.
National partnerships grew. So did local media relationships. We added nearly a dozen new purveyors to our lineup. We mailed gifts to 42 different states. We landed the fifth largest deal in the history of our company. We were busy, all without operating our full retail experience like we were used to.
So we're not closing; we're moving.
And we're not closing; we're growing.
I've yet to see any retail or travel prediction by a credible expert that alludes to either sector rebounding in Nashville soon. (I include travel since roughly half of the foot traffic to our retail store in the Nashville Farmers' Market was tourists.) I believe the American economy will come back, just not quickly, especially in retail. So we're choosing to bet on what's working. Let's take what we were using to sustain our retail enterprise (lease, labor, inventory carrying costs, store promotions and marketing) and redirect it to the wild growth we're finding in online and corporate gift sales.
You can't grow a redwood in a flower pot. It's time to grow big and we need some fresh soil.
(Five and half years ago - ribbon cutting for our grand opening)
But that doesn't mean it hasn't been, isn't, or won't be easy. Growth hurts sometimes. Packing up today, my co-founder, Rob Williams, and I recalled times six years ago when our store was taking shape. We didn't think it would end like this with a drop in demand due to a global pandemic. But there we stood, in an empty market (The Farmers' Market, due to safety precautions, has removed tables and chairs from the Market House for the time being), looking at an empty store, knowing it was time to move. So we can keep growing.
So come see us if you're ready to get out and shop. We're near our farmer and artisan friends in Shed One, seven days a week. And stay tuned - we'll be announcing a few more opportunities you can shop local with us in person and online (and maybe not just in Nashville).
Like I said - we're growing.
I began keeping this diary on Friday, March 13. You can read all of these posts by clicking here.