The Day We Put Down a Deposit on the Perfect Retail Space Without Actually Having Any Money

Painting by Jane Tercheria.
Painting by Jane Tercheria.

For us, the day will go down in history: the day we put down a deposit on the perfect retail space without actually having any money. It’s 100% the first thing any advisor will tell you not to do, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

It was the second time this spot became open to us and we weren’t going to let it slip away again.

We could sit at work on the changing room rug and cry—and not worry about getting fired or written up.

Earlier that same week, my business partner’s husband had a brilliant idea, and enlisted the help of his mother-in-law. She quickly agreed to the plan, and within a few days, she had signed over a life insurance policy that we could use to start the business. Combined with the remaining $18,326 in investment funds we had already raised, this was enough capital to get going. Even just the notion of this working out flooded my senses and all signs pointed to yes.

Then, as if the “Miracle Money Call” wasn’t enough, the landlord (whom we adore, madly) called. We couldn’t resist another walk-through. No matter how irresponsible this seemed (and is) we knew, worst case scenario, this was the dangerous push we needed to make it happen, no matter what.

The next few days were a whirlwind—and actually, each day continues as such and might not calm for quite some time. It’s the actual DOING of all the things we had previously tediously planned. The flood gates have opened before us; it’s time to jump in and hold on for dear life. I think being prepared for this made all the difference—we knew what needed to happen first and what could wait. Delegation is key.

Kristin, our digital arts guru, had already played with some prototypes for signage and after researching what our town’s requirements are, we filed with the Village Hall for approval. Then, we phoned our chosen sign company, Classic Signs, about moving forward. We redid our business cards, bought our domain name and business email addresses, pushed through the $20,000 worth of merchandise orders we had painstakingly written but not submitted, sketched out the retail space and mapped out which fixtures go where and why, consulted with our construction crew regarding implementation, phoned both POS companies we had been considering and bargained with them, finally choosing Lightspeed as they agreed to match the hardware prices of their competitor, Square. (A win for us because we really wanted Lightspeed, anyway, as we plan to open more stores in the future and integration will be easier with Lightspeed.)

Nine days after Deposit Day (the day we made our first dollar is the day my business partner, Kathleen, quit her job!). This stage of small-business owning is definitely when the full-time work comes into play because aligning all of these duties takes some serious multitasking and at least one of us needed to be at the helm. In addition to preparations being made to open the store, in the fashion industry, purchasing is made six to eight months before the actual season. So, while Kathleen and I were plugging away on all the things that had to be done for the store, she was also purchasing flights and rooms for both necessary markets—ENK International in New York City and AmericasMart in Atlanta, GA—a crucial time for choosing what merchandise we will be selling in spring of next year.

Despite all the (what seemed like) unnecessary waiting, we now agree, undoubtedly, that everything is as it should be. We have such a wonderful wave of people supporting and loving us. And our “over-planning” and daydreaming are now instruments of our success.

As a joke between Kathleen and I, every day henceforth has also been a special kind of day. Like the day we could sit at work on the changing room rug and cry—and not worry about getting fired or written up. Or the day we sold a local elderly woman maternity jeans simply because of their stretchy, heavenly comfort. There are days we see out-of-towners driving the wrong way on our one-way street, and all the days we see the locals parking their rain shield-covered golf carts in parking spaces outside the local pub (#ResortLife).

We know every day will present its unique challenges and amusements and we couldn’t be happier or more motivated to be small business owners.

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