Thursday, March 31, 2011

Home Stretch

It has been a while since I've been a runner with any level of seriousness but I still remember how it felt when you entered that last mile or you could finally see the finish line in the distance!  You might be tired but you felt an exhilaration at knowing you were almost there!  Just like finishing a race, Zoe is almost there!

My mom was a great help to me today at the store.  We got there around 7:30 and went right to work.  Mom became an expert with the pricing gun!  We also started putting some organization around the cash wrap (still more to go) and setting up the full configuration of the Point of Sale computer, cash drawer, receipt printer, and barcode scanner.  I also needed to configure Zoe's "info" email account with Entourage on the Point of Sale computer.  We were constantly in motion!

As usual, everyone showed up almost at once!  The security system installer showed up and went to work (he knocked my wireless router in the floor which momentarily caused me some angst but it was fixed in short order).  Right behind him, my construction project manager arrived with the men to replace the mirror in the bathroom and the locksmith to change the locks.  It was quite a flurry of activity!

Just as the security system installer and the locksmith were finishing up, Janice called to let me know that she and her husband, Marshall, had found a potential "husband" chair for Zoe at Home Goods!  With the wonders of modern technology, they had taken pictures and uploaded them to Marshall's PhotoBucket account so I could see them!  From the pictures, it looked promising so I gave Janice the "thumbs up" to purchase it and bring it to the store!

Mom and I were starving so we were just leaving to grab a bite to eat when I saw the Code Administration Inspector's vehicle pull up.  We waited for him to come in to sign off on the final inspection on the signs (all passed!)  He did tell me that someone from the Board of Architectural Review may also come by to see them but from a Code standpoint, we were A-OK!

Janice and Marshall came by with the chair just as we finished up lunch!  It is ABSOLUTELY perfect for the space!  Some pictures:

After a few more organizational tasks at the store (and receiving the Visa/Mastercard stickers for the door in the mail!) we were off to Home Depot (my other home away from home - like City Hall).  Then to Jo-Ann Fabrics for some ribbon and fabric to line the case of the cash wrap.

Tomorrow:  Let's start merchandising!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Zoe's Signs Have A New Home

After serving as the "sign model" in the Affordable Signs and Banners showroom for over a month, Zoe's signs have now taken up residence in their proper place at 130 South Union Street!  (Forgive my poor photography skills).

Prince Street Courtyard Sign

Union Street Sign

All of Zoe's signs (including the lettering on Union Street)

The sign installers were very efficient  - I had been told it would take 1-1/2 to 2 hours and they were done in 1-1/2 hours.  I've arranged for the sign inspector to come out from the City on Thursday to hopefully sign off on the signs.

It was another very busy day at Zoe.  A few remaining construction items (the shoe molding around the column, the final clean) took place yesterday.  Friends Janice and Karen came over and were pricing gun and steamer fiends!  The got their systems going and were flying through those tasks!  What a tremendous help they were!  

The only challenge that arose yesterday is that the remaining fixture order didn't ship on Monday as planned.  It shipped today (Wednesday).  I have asked for a Friday (rather than Monday) delivery but will work around it if necessary.  

Over the weekend, Cori had sent me the final items for Zoe's stationary and business cards for my approvals.  She then uploaded everything to the printing company's website for processing.  Neighbor Mike had Cori approve the proofs and then stopped by last night to show me how everything looked "in person".  They are absolutely beautiful!  We should know soon when all of those items will be delivered to the store.  (Likely sometime next week).

My mom has arrived and I'll be putting her to work at the store over the next few days!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Are You Done Yet?

Not quite....but we are getting closer!

Today was regroup and plan the week day for Zoe! One of the major milestones was getting the credit card processing set up to work with my point of sale software.  That was completed early this afternoon.  Talk about doing things "Just In Time" (a phrase/concept I hated when I worked in manufacturing)!

In a humorous way, the biggest challenge of the day was the configuration of the pricing gun.  I had used one in my previous retail jobs but had never had to install the needle or the plastic hanger tags.  I was beginning to think I was going to need a PhD in Needleology!  Finally, I got it set up correctly and did some tagging for one set of sweaters.  I've started taping the envelopes with the tags to the hangers for the items to speed up the tagging process.

Another major item was to start contacting all of my lines to let them know that I hope to open next week and to get the store information put into the "Store Locator" section of their websites.  I was also approached by a representative from M&T Bank regarding participation in their Local Merchants program - a program where they make agreements with merchants to give a small discount or incentive to those people who use their M&T Bank Visa cards at the store location.  I find I've become very popular the closer I get to opening the business!

I finally had the opportunity to open the jewelry that arrived last week.  I inventoried everything and put one set of the items into the Point of Sale system.  The custom pieces, from Aurora Radiant Glass Art, included some Ghirardelli Chocolates as an extra gift for me!  Yum!  Vendors, please note - chocolates will go a long way toward making me very pleasant toward you.  At this point Verizon and Comcast should pull up with a moving van full of chocolate to get back into my good graces.

The big event tomorrow will be the installation of Zoe's signs!  I promise to share pictures.  That event is planned for the afternoon!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Starting to Come Together

After a stop at Home Depot to pick up the 8 ft shelves that we couldn't fit into our car yesterday, we were off for another day of work at Zoe!  Our major focus today was to get the storage room set up in such a way that I could store supplies and clothes this week.  I explained to Jim what I needed the storage area to accomplish and asked him to design it appropriately.

We made a good team installing all of those shelves!  And we've already started making good use of them! We also starting configuring the outriggers and determining what else we may need.  I emailed my contact at Barr Display with the hopes of getting the remaining items in the shipment going out tomorrow.  We also did another walkthrough to determine what punchlist items are needed to finalize the construction - fortunately, everything left is just minor.  I've contacted the Construction Project Manager with those items.  Finally, we cleaned up as best we could in preparation for the cleaning crew to come in for the final clean tomorrow.

Oh, and our favorite accomplishment - putting up the white board that had been sitting in our dining room since AUGUST of last year.  To inaugurate it, Jim wrote "Hi Zoe!" on it!

A few pictures!

Storage area

Two way racks - we put plastic on the ends (Janice's idea last week) to keep people from poking their eye out on them!

Three Way racks and wire mannequins

Starting to configure the outriggers!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Handyman

Jim has contributed major points to his "Husband of the Year" tally with all of his help in getting Zoe assembled and ready to go!

We had a good start to the day on Friday when my MIL, FIL, and SIL arrived.  We loaded a number of things into my FIL's truck and headed for the store.  After a quick unload, they surveyed the situation with the wall units and my FIL determined what type of anchors were needed to install them (they do not come with bolts since they can be used in different ways with different types of wall materials).  He and I were off to Lowe's and then Home Depot (they didn't have enough of the right size anchor at Lowe's) to buy the necessary hardware.

We got started installing and had done two prior to Jim's arrival in the afternoon.  He quickly surveyed the scene and gently took charge of the situation.  He and his dad work well together and they were able to make a difficult task go smoothly.  While I love the wall systems, they are almost too configurable!  I need to figure out how to best make use of them to display the merchandise!

Today, Jim and I split the tasks at the store in the morning.  I put together the rolling racks (for staging the clothes) while he installed the toilet paper holder (always a necessity!)  I installed the wireless router and configured Zoe's wireless network while he filed out the not quite even holes in the bottom of the two way racks and assembled them.  We then took stock of what was needed next - shelves for the storage room, hooks for the dressing rooms, and a paper towel holder for the bathroom.  It was off for a quick lunch and a trip to Home Depot!

Back to the store in the afternoon and Jim continued his installation work while I tried some combinations with the wall units and different sizes of hangers.  At around 3:45, we had a delightful visit from a longtime friend of mine, Michelle.  Michelle had moved to Wrightsville Beach, NC a few years ago and was in the area visiting after a trip to NY!  It was so lovely to catch up with her and show her all things Zoe!

So much has been happening recently that sometimes I forget some of the small, interesting things that happen along the way.  Since I've appeared on the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Bureau website, I'm getting a lot more attention from people wanting me to advertise - I've had calls this week from Northern Virginia magazine and the Washington Post.  I also got confirmation that the ResortMaps (with the Zoe advertisement) will be coming out the second week in April - perfect timing!

Our living room/dining room is slowly returning to normal (meaning we don't have 40 boxes stacked all around)!  I did get two jewelry shipments this week, one of which has a really neat story.  The artist is from northeast Georgia (close to the location where my family lives).  She called me a couple weeks ago to tell me that one of the bracelets I had selected had been broken when she was preparing it for shipment and she would be sending me a slightly different one.  She had lived in the DC area many years ago and asked me where my shop was located.  She was thrilled when I told her that I was just down the street from The Torpedo Factory!  As an artist, she thought that was very cool.  One of the things I loved about her jewelry is that each piece has a story and an inspiration behind it.  It was really a lovely thing to talk directly to the artist.

LOTS more to do this week.  And I'll try to do better with the pictures!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Banner Day

After a very bad Tuesday and a fairly disappointing Wednesday, Thursday was a banner day!

Somehow, all my life, everything always seems to happen on the same day.  Despite careful planning and the desire to have every peg fall cleanly into its hole at the time I want it to do so, it rarely seems to work that way.  I am not a fan of chaos but have learned to live with it and accept it (still working on loving it - not sure I'll ever get there!)

A quick backtrack to Wednesday - I needed to pick up a few things at Staples and also run by my insurance agent's office to pick up the Certificate of Insurance for the City.  I decided to give Comcast until 9 am to call to reschedule the appointment.  When I hadn't heard from them, I called and was told that there was a small glitch with my order but they would get it rescheduled and let me know.

I went to the store and dropped off a few things and went to City Hall to get the Right of Way permit to close the sidewalk for the sign hanging on Tuesday.  While I was there, a representative from Comcast's escalation office called to see what was going on.  I briefly explained my predicament.  Back at the store, I got a call at around 12:30 from the escalation office with a point of contact.  He told me he would get this worked out and I should call if I felt I hadn't heard from him soon enough.

I started working on printing out the price tags for the clothes (I put each group of tags in an individual envelope labeled with the designer brand and the clothing description - that should make it easier as we start to unpack the clothes and tag them).  All of a sudden, I realized it was 2:30 and I hadn't heard from anyone.  I called and left the Comcast contact a message and went back to my tag printing.

When 3:30 rolled around, I was pretty annoyed.  I was tired, I hadn't heard from anyone, and I wanted to go home!  I called and left a less than nice message on the contact's voice mail.  (I know - I hate now that I did it but I was just beyond frustrated).  I got a call back shortly after 4 from the contact, saying that they were working on rescheduling but that my order had to be put back in because it had been canceled.  Ooops - last straw.  I was NOT happy and I expressed that to the contact.  I hung up with him and immediately called my sales rep to let her know what was going on.  She said that they were working on it and would get it straightened out.

I did get two calls from the installation team at around 5 with the promise they would be out on Thursday morning between 8:30 - 9:00 am.  Yes, I was skeptical!

So now we were at the intersection of many tasks all at once.  When I got to the store at around 7:30, the painter was there to fix the areas of drywall that had been fixed earlier in the week and to fix the paint of the baseboard.  The flooring guys arrived soon after to install the shoe molding and extend the flooring under the wheelchair lift.  The trash guys then came to get rid of the trash items from the mechanical room.

I had some more tags to finish and then I waited for Comcast.  The technician arrived at 9:15.  Fortunately, the cabling was all in the right place and he didn't have to do a lot of work to get it set up in the office.  Within about an hour and fifteen minutes, I had phone lines and internet service!

Now, I had set up an appointment a few weeks ago with some reps from a clothing line that I am carrying - Red Engine Jeans.  They came at 10 (while Comcast was still there).  I found myself bouncing back and forth between them and Comcast (I apologized to the reps - this was not supposed to happen this way!)  Plus, I'm keeping my eyes and ears out for the truck to arrive with the fixtures!

Once everyone left, I called the trucking company.  He confirmed that the truck should be arriving any minute - that I was the first delivery for the day.  Sure enough, within 10 minutes, the truck pulled up and we got him situated in the parking outside the store.  As he brought the boxes in, I started opening them as you must report all damage prior to signing off on the bill of lading and the truck leaving.  Fortunately, I did not find any damage!

So now I'm surrounded by 40+ boxes and I have no idea what is in any of them!  After taking a deep breath, I pulled out the packing list and starting checking off the items and staging them in different areas of the store - mannequin items in one area, 2- and 3- way racks in another, the wall systems in another, and the miscellaneous items (steamer, garment bag dispenser, hangers) in another.  Just as I had started this process, friends Janice and Karen called to see if I was ready for them and to let me know they'd be there in about 15 minutes!  Help was on the way!

It was so wonderful to have Janice and Karen helping me - I could not have made nearly the progress by myself.  They are so efficient and work well together.  They put together the mannequins, the 3-way racks, my office desk, the garment bag dispenser, and the hanger racks.  We identified a few minor issues along the way (a couple of screws missing, the holes on the 2 way racks not lining up properly, an incorrect mannequin) and I called the display company with that information so that we could get those items straightened out.

I started staging the wall systems in preparation for my Father-In-Law's help today!  I think things will start to look much less chaotic when we get those in place.  I'm eager to make progress in that area.  I did not do a good job of taking pictures yesterday with all that was going on but here are a few.

Empty boxes!

Mannequins staged in the windows

Accessories rack

My desk - woo hoo!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Annoyed Beyond Belief

Oh, you guessed it....Comcast borrowed from Verizon yesterday.  Totally and completely stood up again!

I didn't write last night because I just really couldn't find appropriate words (it is rare that I am left speechless!)  A good nights sleep is a remedy to all of that!

The day started out very well - I caught up Zoe's accounting first thing in the morning and pulled together all of the tech things I needed to take to the store (phones, computers, printer, etc.)  When I got to the store, I found that the City had already put up the notices regarding my reserved parking on Thursday.

I set up my point of sale computer and started working.  One of the finish workers came in and installed the grab bars in the restroom, moved the mirror, and did some drywall repair.  He also installed a new lock on the front door.  The glass people came in to measure for the mirrors to be placed on the dressing room doors.  My insurance company called to let me know that the certificate of insurance that I need to show to the City was ready.  So good!

When the time reached almost 2 pm (my window with Comcast was from 11 - 2).  I gave Comcast a call.  They said that the installer was running late and I would receive a credit on my first month's bill for them missing their window.  The person I spoke with said that their dispatcher would call me to give me an ETA.

Then, it was 3:30 - no call.  I called again and was told that my install was showing from 2 - 5 pm and that the tech would be there.  By 4:45, still no tech.  I was on hold for a long time on this call but the woman said that dispatch would call me back.  I waited until 6 and then packed up and left.  On my way home, I called again.  The person I spoke with tried to reschedule for today but was not able to do so.  I was told that I would be called for the reschedule.  Have I had a call yet?  What do you think?

Honestly, I do not have a problem with someone being late or delayed.  Sometimes you run into a situation that is far beyond what you expected and it takes time to resolve.  I would want the technician to show the same concern and care in getting my install correct, even if it took longer than planned.  What bothers me is the total disregard for my time and my schedule - if anyone had proactively contacted me and set appropriate expectations, I would not be so frustrated.  All I want to know is what to expect.  We shall see what happens today!

Today is the day to feel sorry for the City.  I'll be taking my drawing of the sidewalk closing in for them to review.  And no, my art skills have not improved in the slightest.  Those who know me well know that even with a ruler, I often cannot draw a straight line.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Put the Pedal to the Floor

I feel like Jim when he drives one of the snazzy cars at the driving schools he has attended over the years.  The pedal is to the floor and I'd better hope I'm steering in the right direction (and the brakes work too!)

As expected, an incredibly busy day in Zoe World.  I was as City Hall shortly after 8 this morning to reserve the parking meter spaces on Union Street for the truck to arrive with the fixtures/display items on Thursday.  I have the spaces reserved all day (and paid the requisite amount of money to do so).  Before and After the Truck leaves, I may just have a little party out there.  Get my money's worth!

From there, it was off to my trusty Staples to fax my application to the Credit Card processing company.  I also bought a door stop while I was there as I think I'll enjoy having Zoe's door propped open in the nice weather.

On the way to Janice's house, I got a call from Comcast to say that they are coming out to perform my installation between 11 am - 2 pm on Tuesday.  I can definitely live with a 3 hour window.  Believe it or not, it was 2 weeks ago today that I initially called them to start this process.  Here's hoping that they finish off as well as they have done along the way!

I also called my insurance agent regarding the certificate of insurance (and adding the City) during the period where the signs are being installed next week.  He has to check with someone in his office and we should be able to wrap that up tomorrow.

Janice and I had a very successful trip to IKEA.  I do not know what I would do without her help right now!  We found a desk, a desk chair, a small table, a wastebasket, and some candlesticks (to use for displaying bracelets).  We loaded it all in her station wagon and dropped it off at Zoe's home.

After lunch, I took Jim's tool bag and headed back to Zoe to start putting things together.  I managed to assemble the table and the desk chair and unpacked the two boxes containing parts for the desk.  I wasn't quite up to tackling it today!  The men also installed the laminate benches in the dressing rooms today.  A few pictures of the new things:

Small table from IKEA

Laminate bench in handicap dressing room

Laminate bench in standard dressing room

Desk Chair

The desk (wish it would assemble itself overnight!)

Look at those snazzy street numbers!

Zoe Bags in the Windows!

I also snagged a Rebecca Taylor shipment from FedEx and had a UPS shipment from Velvet when I arrived home.  I've added most of both to the point of sale system.

I know you can't wait to read tomorrow's blog post about Comcast!  What do you think?  Will I be delighted, relieved, or annoyed beyond belief?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bakers Rack and More

When I told my mom that we were going to be assembling the bakers rack in the store today, she asked "Will you be selling bread?"  (she was just kidding)  Zoe Boutique and Bakery....I can't even begin to imagine what opening a restaurant in Old Town would require!

After church and lunch today, Jim and I headed to Zoe's home on our latest mission.  We took the bakers rack to be assembled, some bags and tissue paper to display in the window, the street numbers to place on the door, and the toilet paper holder/toilet paper/paper towels/tissues.  We also had some measuring to do.

Jim wanted to tackle the bakers rack first.  He did an excellent job of putting it together.

Just before we left, I fixed the Zoe Bags in the window and moved my small laminated sign to the door.  At least people will know something is coming!

We had parked down Union Street and they looked so pretty, even from a block away!

Since we've been home, I've been working on reviewing and filling out all the information required to process credit cards.  Also, getting all of my paperwork together to reserve the parking spaces for Thursday's delivery.  And reviewing the IKEA catalogue and website for some of the items that Janice and I hope to pick up on our trip there tomorrow!  Each day presents great progress!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cash Wrap Has A New Home

This morning, our friend Janice brought their big red truck so that we could go to German Favorite Antiques in Leesburg to pick up the Cash Wrap Desk purchased for Zoe in February.  We could not have had a better day for the trip and everything was flawless!

We arrived just before the store opened at 11 and the owner helped to wheel the desk out to the truck and get it loaded on.  Jim and Janice are expert loaders!
Store owner Lothar, Janice, and me - Jim serving as photographer

Probably only those of you in the DC area would understand our delight with this parking space - right at the corner of Prince and Union (at the store) on a warm Saturday afternoon.  A miracle.

The cash desk in her new home!  This is the perfect size for Zoe's small space!

The construction company also completed the plumbing related work today and sent me a punch list of all of the remaining items and their planned completion dates.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Final Inspection - Check!

Zoe's buildout passed final inspection by the City of Alexandria today! Woo hoo!

There are a few cosmetic things left for the construction company to complete but I am able to start moving things in immediately (meaning tomorrow!)

A few pictures from the Construction Meeting this afternoon:

Outside trim painted! Zoe is no longer "John Q. Adams Center for the History of Otolaryngology"

I like this picture - it shows the mirror on the column and the reflection back into the space.

Mirrors on the dressing room door wall.  Mirrors will be installed on the dressing room doors also.

I won't bore you with any more plumbing pictures.  The walls have been closed in around the plumbing fixtures and the toilet/sink/water fountain will go in tomorrow (Saturday).

The benches will be installed in the dressing rooms as well as some shoe molding put down and some more trim painting to be done.  I cannot believe this is almost done!

It was a super busy day (in a good way, of course).  First thing this morning, the rep from my life insurance agency came by the house to delivery my supplemental life insurance policy.  Jim is very happy this is in place.  If something were to happen to me, he doesn't particularly relish running a boutique!

Just after he left, my Point of Sale software consultant arrived to delivery my cash drawer and receipt printer as well as conduct training on the sales side of the software.  The training in December had been to get me going on the inventory and purchasing piece.  He left at around 12:30, giving me time to grab a quick lunch prior to going to the construction meeting.

When I left the construction meeting, I stopped by the business post office to pick up my mail and tell them they could now stop holding it.  I will say, the Post Office has been great through all of this and they have not given me a hard time about having to re-extend the holds so many times.

Once I got home, I hit the ground running.  I gave the thumbs up to the fixtures/display company to ship on Monday.  I contacted my business insurance agent regarding the addition of the City to my liability insurance policy during the time we are putting the signs up.  I tracked down a package that was about to go awry (one of my clothing shipments) and had them send it to a FedEx location so that I could pick it up.  I called Comcast to confirm the status of the order.  My main contact told me that they had done their work and would be calling me on Monday to schedule the installation!  Still hoping they hit a home run on all of this.

I got the additional contracts and documentation to fill out in order to process credit cards and will get that back to them on Monday after I've had a chance to read through it this weekend.  There really isn't value in doing it too far in advance because a) they have to do a site visit to confirm that you are a legitimate business and b) they charge you fees during a month whether or not you process cards or not!  

And now...I'm a little tired!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Zoe Has A Floor

Another seriously WOW moment when I went for Zoe's daily inspection.  We have floors!

Love the Pergo floor!

Toward the dressing rooms.

It is still dusty - they will do a final clean of the space before we are completely done.

Carpet in the office/storage area.  You can't tell here but it has a green and oatmeal tint.

Vinyl in the Restroom

Significant things that still need to be done:
  1. Toilet/Sink/Water Fountain installed
  2. Mirrors installed
  3. Benches in Dressing Room installed
  4. Trim painted/second coat of paint
  5. Some more minor electrical finishes
I am very eager to see what they've done when I go for the construction meeting tomorrow afternoon.  And to confirm that I can move forward with all of the things I have planned beginning Saturday!

I got the news today that the Sign company will install Zoe's signs on the 29th!  I need to go to the City at the beginning of next week and get the Right of Way permit to block the sidewalk.  

This morning, I looked at a line that I may begin carrying in the Fall - Alice & Trixie.  They are known for their Silks and Prints but have some gorgeous Italian Merino Wool as well as some amazing coats.  Jim asked a great question - "Is there really an Alice & Trixie?"  In fact, the designer named the line as she did as a tribute to the heroines of the 1950s sitcom "The Honeymooners".

After a doctor's appointment, I picked up the Rebecca Taylor shipment that I had UPS hold at their depot!  That shipment and the Tracy Reese one from yesterday have been added to the Point of Sale system.

After lunch, I faxed in my set-up documents for accepting credit/debit cards at Zoe.  I've been watching the fight over the timing of the debit card charges and the arguments from the banks, retailers, and consumers.  

I am keeping a close eye on Comcast.  I was initially elated when I looked at my Zoe email this morning and had an email telling me that they were ready to run the cable and needed to access the phone close in my landlord's space.  I confirmed with them that they could (I had discussed this with the landlord as part of a general conversation on Wednesday) and provided the contact information and also offered to be onsite if needed.  I also followed up with my landlord to let him know he might be contacted.  The gentleman from Comcast sent me a note back just after 8 am to let me know that it would be taken care of today.  Unfortunately, as of 5:30 this evening, there was no evidence that Comcast had been to the landlord's space.  I hope there is a good explanation for this change in schedule.  Don't go Verizon on me!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chop Chop!

That's what I want to say to everyone not sharing my sense of urgency!  Chop Chop - Let's Go, People!

I decided to focus on web-based items first thing this morning before meeting my friend Renee for a walk.  I uploaded Zoe's logo to the Alexandria Convention and Visitor's Bureau web page and then worked on more content for Zoe's website.  I also worked on Zoe's Facebook Page and Facebook Place - I'm hoping to find a way to merge the two so that I'm not maintaining two sites.

I do want to share Zoe's official website with my loyal, loving blog readers.  It is  I still need to get some Press coverage (so that I don't have the placeholder there!) but otherwise it is well on it's way to being what I want it to be!

This afternoon, I went to visit Zoe's home.  Not a whole lot of progress to report - I could see where they had moved two of the overhead lights and removed a brass plaque outside the door (it had been part of the museum).  Other than that, I could not discern any significant change.  I think they are going to need to be really busy tomorrow and Friday in order to finish!  I did have a UPS slip on the door so I was able to request that the hold the package at the depot until I can pick it up tomorrow!  More Rebecca Taylor tomorrow!

I then made my daily visit to City Hall to confirm the requirements for reserving parking for the delivery of Zoe's fixtures.  I also noted the numbers of the parking meters that I want to reserve.  Reservations need to be made 3 business days prior to the spaces being needed.  In my negotiations with Barr Display, we've now decided to go for a Thursday delivery so that I do not reserve the spaces (and pay the fee) for naught.

I had also been working on setting up the electric bill in Zoe's name since electric is one of the charges I pay as part of my lease.  Dominion VA Power was giving me the Verizon treatment so I called my landlord for help.  He said that he would prefer that they pay the bills and then bill me on a quarterly basis, which is fine with me.  I'm glad to have that checked off my list.

My Point of Sale provider is coming on Friday morning for our final session and to deliver my cash drawer and receipt printer.  He also put me in touch with their new credit card processor, who promised to send me the information on costs this morning.  When 5 o'clock rolled around and I hadn't gotten the email, I followed up.  Every day is precious now!

I also followed up with the Sign Company to try to set the sign installs for the week of March 28th.  Once again, the lead time with the City for the Temporary Right of Way Permit for blocking the sidewalk drives the need to be more precise with this schedule.  My contact at Affordable Signs was calling her installer and will get back to me.

And, another Tracy Reese shipment came today!  Plus we got confirmation that the City had approved some money from the Marketing Fund for the Christmas in July event for Union Street Merchants.  Save July 15 - 17 on your calendars!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Final Sprint

Lots going on (but still lots to do) if construction is going to be complete this week!  But, construction companies seem to pull rabbits out of hats all the time so I won't be surprised by anything!

I have two days worth of pictures to share with you!

Ceiling Tiles complete and freshly painted

Those jagged edges on the door window show where they started to remove the film.

First coat of Primitive Plum on the wall!

At the window line

Facing the Cash Wrap area

Looking back toward the door to the office/storage/restroom

Looking toward the dressing rooms.

Monday was an extraordinarily busy day - I started making phone calls and follow up emails on so many items that had been waiting for construction completion.  So far, things seem to be falling into place pretty well.  There are a few things that I may not be able to confirm until a couple days before they happen but I'm trying to relax and go with the flow.  

Based on the plan for the flooring to be in on Friday, we are planning to go with friend Janice (and the truck she and her husband own) to pick up the cash wrap desk in Leesburg on Saturday.  As of right now, it looks like the fixtures and display items will be delivered next Wednesday.  I'm working with my Point of Sale implementer on scheduling our second session next week.  I'm working on sign installation the week of March 28th.  It is all starting to gel!

After my visit to Zoe's home this afternoon, I met with the Membership Director of the Alexandria Convention and Visitor's Association.  She gave me a tour of the section of their website that will include Zoe's "page".  It is a very functional website with lots of easy to use features that allow the business owner to really create the kind of presence he/she wants to have for visitors (or even locals looking for lots of information on Alexandria).  

I also got another Tracy Reese shipment yesterday!  And am expecting a Velvet shipment this week as well.  There will be no shortage of clothing availability for Zoe's customers!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Babymoon

From Wikipedia:

A babymoon is a period of time that parents spend bonding with a recently-born baby.
More recently the term has come to be used to describe a vacation taken by a couple that is expecting a baby in order to allow the couple to enjoy a final trip together before the many sleepless nights that usually accompany a newborn baby.
This past weekend, Jim and I took a "babymoon" to Williamsburg.  Knowing that we are getting close to me having no time to go anywhere with the "birth" of Zoe pending, we decided to make a quick trip to one of our favorite places.    It was so much fun to just relax and enjoy the two days especially after receiving the good news on Zoe's construction on Friday.

Of course, I had a lot of fun "shopping" in Williamsburg too.  I didn't buy anything (unless you count gifts for my little niece and new nephew) but I love looking at the stores and their creative displays.  When shopping at Closet Envy, I found that I was recognizing the clothing from different brands even before looking at the labels!  That was both fun and funny!  I guess all that market shopping in Atlanta and NY is starting to permeate my brain!  Jim laughed and accused me of "working" while I was doing this!

Lots and lots to schedule over these next 3 weeks!  I'd better get to work!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Construction To Be Complete Next Friday

When I learned that Zoe's construction will be complete as of next Friday, I felt so giddy!  It is almost hard for me to believe we are almost there!  The construction meeting went well and there isn't anything of issue to address.  All of the trades are on tap to finish their work this upcoming week with the flooring being the last piece.  A couple of pictures:

Primer on the door frame to outside (finally rid of the icky yellowish color)

Doors being installed on dressing rooms.  Doors will have mirrors on the outside.  Oh, and nice pile of trash, isn't it?

The Potomac was starting to flood Prince Street - this was taken with me standing at Union and Prince.

Totally adorable picture of my niece Allison with my new nephew Caleb.  I know - nothing to do with Zoe but I love my little sweeties so much and just had to share!

Now that I know when construction will be complete, there are LOTS of things I can begin to put in motion!  Monday is going to be a BUSY day!  Are those labor pains I'm starting to feel? :)

Oh, and did you see the comment in yesterday's post?  Comcast has a group that looks at social media (Facebook, Twitter) and Blogs for mentions of Comcast and then follows up with people to address issues or to help!  I almost fainted when I saw the comment last night and initially thought it was a scam (I get some junk comments with people trying to sell me things) until I researched it.  Wow!  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Build Build Build

I love visiting Zoe's site and seeing lots of progress!  When I went for the daily inspection yesterday afternoon, I was so excited to see them still working!  A few pictures:

Getting ready to install the sink in the bathroom

Doors for the dressing rooms!

Making progress on the water fountain install
Installing the door frames on the dressing rooms

Juice, they must be reading my blog comments - primer on the trim!

Also, a confession.  I have not been shopping for myself since I stopped working last year (with the one exception being in La Jolla last August).  I get to buy clothes as part of my job so its not like I need it as an outlet any more!  But, since I am not going to be carrying shoes (and I had a DSW coupon about to expire), I did buy some shoes yesterday for "work".  Some very fun, comfortable wedges that I can wear  to work every day!  

I have a construction meeting this morning at which I hope they are going to tell me that they are still going to finish by the 21st!  Oh, and Comcast called me yesterday to confirm the results of their site survey and to let me know what they needed to do prior to scheduling the installation.   I remain cautiously optimistic!