Thursday, April 28, 2011

It Was Bound To Happen

Yesterday was what every business owner dreads but knows in inevitable at times.  No sales for Zoe yesterday.  Wednesdays (with the exception of the first day we opened) have been very quiet and yesterday was no exception.  I enjoyed visiting with the people who came into the store but our visits did not translate to purchases.

I've known this would happen and had mentally prepared myself for it.  Today (Thursday) is the first day I've done any significant advertising (in advance of the Grand Opening tomorrow).  Janice is coming in later today to help me change over the mannequins in the display window to give it an extra pop for the Grand Opening.

Other Grand Opening activities include hanging the banner later today, receiving the flower arrangement (given to me by my mother/brother) from The Enchanted Florist tomorrow morning, preparing the free gift for distribution, and preparing the items for the discount drawing!

When I was involved in fundraising for W&M, one thing we used to say is that we had to develop Friends of the College (one of my fellow board members referred to it as "friendraising") before we could ask people for money.  The more people I have the opportunity to connect with and visit the store, the more likely those contacts turn into sales.

While the ultimate goal of any business is to make money, I will say that I love the opportunity to be part of this community.  Yesterday while walking to CVS before opening, a man asked me where to find the Alexandria Circuit Court.  Since it was on my way, I offered to walk him there (and also warned him about the parking requirements!)  We had a great chat about transportation practices in Europe as I walked him to the Courthouse.  Hopefully, he will leave Alexandria with a good feeling in mind.

Another day, as I was walking to my car after closing the store, a man stopped me (he was in his car) and asked where the Bike Shop was.  Well, there are 3 bike shops close by (Union Street also functions as the Mt. Vernon Bike Trail through Old Town and many people rent bikes from the shops)!  I asked him which one it was and he didn't know!  I gave him directions to all three!

Also as I was leaving earlier this week, I saw a couple dressed in their wedding attire getting pictures made in the middle of the cobblestone section of Prince Street.  There are photo shoots regularly on that block of Prince because it is such a gorgeous setting.

Looking forward to what today will bring!  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Steamer

Oh, how I love my Jiffy Steamer!  On Monday, I received the Summer shipment of Velvet.  Of course, they package it so that they can ship as much as possible in the smallest box possible.  I unpacked everything on Tuesday and hung it up to shake the wrinkles out.  This morning, I steamed the pieces.  The wrinkles just fall right out!  Now they are ready to price and put out on the floor.

Some days I get more people trying to sell me things than I get regular customers!  Sometimes it goes very well and sometimes, um, not so well.  Two examples:

A Sales Visit Goes Well:

A young man walked into my store last week from a company called Lighting Resources Inc.   They are based close by (between here and Mount Vernon).  He gave me a price on the compact fluorescent bulbs that I have in the store and told me to contact them if I needed anything.  Later that day, I noticed that I had a burned out spotlight (they are halogen bulbs) and a burned out CFL.  I emailed him and asked for pricing on the halogen bulbs.  He got back to me by the end of the day and I ordered replacement bulbs from him.

He delivered the bulbs the next day at the time he committed to do so and asked if I had a ladder.  He then proceeded to install them for me (I was going to have Jim come to the store to do it the next morning).  I told him he was excellent with his customer service!  I'm a very happy customer and I will do repeat business with them.

A Sales Visit Does Not Go Well:

Another young man walked into my store yesterday.  He was carrying a Verizon clipboard.  (Anyone have that sense of foreboding yet?)  He asked me if I was happy with their service.  I then explained to him (in an amazingly calm voice, believe it or not) that I was not a Verizon customer.  He asked what happened and I told him.  A friend who I shared this with was shocked that I didn't throw him out of the store.  I explained that time heals all wounds.  At the end, he freely admitted that if all of that had happened to him, he would have canceled his order too!

Hard to believe the Grand Opening is 2 days away!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Who's The Boss

Sometimes, I need to be reminded of this!  And what better way than for a blog posting from Sheila Walsh to show up in my email inbox just in time.  In her post today, she quotes from one of my favorite Psalms:

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!—Psalm 90:17 NRSV 

I used to keep a copy of this Psalm pinned to my wall at my previous job.  But I'm ashamed to say that I had forgotten to bring it to Zoe.  Sheila's point in her blog posting is that we should thank God for the gifts we've been given and ask Him for opportunities that day to use them for His glory!  I normally start each morning at Zoe with a prayer but this is a good reminder to make this request front and center!

Things have been busy with the store!  Friday was a hideously cold and rainy day.  But a previous customer brought a friend shopping in the afternoon and they had a great time!  That's what I love about the job - the opportunity to share in and provide a place for people to enjoy themselves.  

Saturday was also busy with lots of out of town visitors.  I'm meeting people from all over the US, with a significant concentration visiting from the Northeastern states for the day or a weekend.  I get asked LOTS of questions, from where to find a good vegan meal in Old Town to where the "Spite House" is located!  

One exciting event on Saturday was a customer coming into the store telling me that she had seen one of my bags (carried by another customer still shopping in Old Town) and it prompted her to come to shop at Zoe!  Love that!

I was closed on Easter Sunday as were several of the stores in Old Town, including the Christmas Attic across the street from Zoe.  While I missed Zoe, it was wonderful to observe the holiday fully and spend quiet time with Jim.  On my day off today (Monday), I couldn't help but go in to check on her!

I'm getting geared up for this weekend's Grand Opening!  So excited to formally introduce Zoe to the world!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Repeat Customer

I was very excited to have my first repeat customer at Zoe yesterday!  She had been in to purchase an item last week and came back to buy something else!  That was fun!

In all of my crankiness about the various installation contractors, I wanted to make sure to say something very nice about the contractor who replaced the HVAC system in the space yesterday.  We had agreed that I would meet them here at 7 so they could get a good start before I had customers in the store.  They arrived shortly after 7 and covered Zoe's floors nicely prior to taking out the old unit and bringing the new one in.  They were all very polite, hard-working, and did the job with very minimal noise and disruption.  And they were done by 2 pm!  As much as this work needed to be done, I had really been dreading it because it could have been horribly disruptive.  But it was not at all.  By far the best contractors that have been in the space.

I also had a lovely visit from friend Betsey yesterday.  Although we keep in touch via Facebook and Christmas cards, we had not had a chance to catch up face to face for a long time!

I will admit to being a little frustrated with the bulbs (lighting) supplied for the store.  I've already had 2 of the 3 spotlights fail and one of the compact fluorescents.  As luck would have it, a lighting salesman stopped by yesterday.  I'm planning to order some bulbs from him that have a much longer life/warranty.  My big frustration is that I really don't have the lights on for long periods of time - just while I am here at the store (I do not leave them on overnight).  They shouldn't be burning out this quickly!

The weather was so beautiful and temperate yesterday afternoon that even more people than normal were out walking their dogs.  The owner of Appleseed Maternity here in Old Town came in to visit with her dogs and her daughter!  It was very nice to meet her and she was very welcoming of the business to Old Town!

This morning, I completed the 2010 Personal Property Tax Return for the City of Alexandria.  Since I registered my business with the City in 2010 and I had purchased assets as part of the business, I am potentially liable for Personal Property Taxes.  I confirmed my total with Accountant Joe and am mailing the form today (it is due May 2nd).

The construction company brought in an electrician to check the water heater this morning.  They confirmed that everything is fine electrically but it may have an issue with the element.  A determination will need to be made as to what to do next.

Today is Good Friday.  What an important day in our lives as Christians.  I remain so thankful to God for sending His Son to us here on earth.  I can't imagine life without Him!  Happy Easter to all!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Year Ago

Today was Zoe's two week "birthday"!  Thinking of milestones made me think of what happened on this day last year.

Last April 20th, I arrived home tired at the end of a typically long day.  Jim was gone on his week-long trip to Arkansas and I would be by myself.  I was probably more tired and frustrated than normal, having received a nasty letter the evening before from the IRS, rejecting my initial submission of evidence for their audit of our 2008 tax return.  (Growing up in WV, we would say that when you were really mad, you were spitting mad.  Believe me, I was!)

Thinking it would be nice to get something positive in the mailbox, I trudged up the street to get the mail.   In the pile of credit card offers, FIOS mailings (thanks Verizon!), catalogues, and requests for charitable contributions, was a large envelope from the State Corporation Commission.  I quickly dropped everything else on the kitchen table and ripped open that envelope - it was the certificate showing that ZCG LLC (Zoe's legal company name) was official!  Talk about forgetting everything else that was bothering me!  I was on Cloud 9!  I could really start moving forward now!

I'm still amazed by how far everything has come in the past year.  While I certainly hoped to have the store open by now when first getting started last year, I could not have ever imagined the journey that I would take to get there, all of the great people I would meet, all of the things I would learn, and all of the new experiences.

At this time last year, I hadn't even started figuring out what lines I wanted to carry and where to go to market.  Now, I'm making appointments for my next market visit in NY in May with a variety of existing and new vendors.  I'm making new friends with the people I meet every day.  I have meetings in my own timing and of my own choosing (and on topics that don't bore me to death!)  And I get to make women smile when they find something they love at Zoe!

I had a great chat yesterday with my friend Michelle who lives in NC.  She had asked me to pick a dress for her to wear for the author photograph for her upcoming book.  Knowing her and the beautiful location in which she would be photographed, I sent her a dress (one from the Velvet line).  She loved it and called me to buy it yesterday.  I can't wait to see her picture - she will be beautiful in it!

If all goes as planned, the new HVAC system should be installed tomorrow!  Today was a little on the warm side so I'm definitely ready to have this done!

Monday, April 18, 2011

First Full Week

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of Zoe's first FULL week in business and are now approaching the 2 week mark!  It continues to amaze and delight me with all of the different things that happen each day!

I continue to meet very nice and interesting people, many of them living in Alexandria and Northern VA/DC.  I love getting to the point where I can call people by name who I've met more than once!  And being able to help people is so much fun, whether it is giving them a map, a suggestion on where they might find something they are looking for, or welcoming new people to the area.

On Friday afternoon, Cori stopped by with Colin and Ryan to bring me a lovely card and some yummy truffles from The Sugar Cube!   Jim and I have had great fun savoring each and every flavor (we limit ourselves to 2 at a time!)  Cori and her husband, Scott, have been explaining to Colin and Ryan about Cori's involvement with me in designing the logo and helping me immensely with the branding and collateral for the store but this was the first time the children have seen me in the store.  Ryan looked at me and said "Do you work here?"  A beautiful, classic moment!

I also met with an advertising representative from the news/community websites The Patch on Friday afternoon.  Zoe is officially on the directory for The Old Town Patch but I also wanted to explore advertising possibilities.  They offer a variety of levels and methods for advertising, including the filming of video that can be used on your directory entry as well as posted to Facebook, YouTube, your website, etc.  The sample he showed me (for Ten Thousand Villages in Old Town) was very professionally done.  I've never seen myself as a YouTube kind of girl but maybe Zoe is?

Saturday started cold, wet, windy and rainy.  I knew it would be a challenging day.  I always take some work with me to the cash desk to do during periods when customers are not in the store.  And believe me, for the first three hours on Saturday, no one came in!  Just as the weather had a little break, people started coming and steadily between 1 - 4.  And then it started to flood!  Some pictures:

At the corner of Prince & Union, shortly after 6 pm

Looking down Union toward the intersection with King - you can see the water crossing Union and going up King Street

The police and traffic enforcement were very organized and thorough.  They closed off the streets and had tow trucks in to pull out cars that were in danger of being flooded.  They had both Union and Prince closed off so I walked down Union a block so Jim could pick me up after I had closed.  As a note, when I went back to open the store on Sunday, the City was cleaning up the flood debris and had the streets reopened in no time!

With the beautiful weather on Sunday (as well as the garden tours going on during the weekend), Zoe was very busy.  In fact, I had people coming into the store before we were even officially open on Sunday!  And people still coming in after closing time!  

One of the funnier moments from the weekend - a man comes in and looks at a number of things in the store.  I asked him if he is shopping for someone special.  He tells me he is in the doghouse - he said something to his wife he should not have said and he needs to find a way out!  

Expecting some Chan Luu necklaces this week as well as summer shipments from my lines this week and next!

Friday, April 15, 2011

What a Difference the Weather Makes

Tuesday and Wednesday were definitely "icky" weather days here in Alexandria.  Cold, windy, and rainy. As you can imagine, it really cuts down on foot traffic as well.  Although I continue to meet wonderful people (both local residents and visitors), there were less of them on those days.

Thursday started sunny and warm.  I walked to City Hall prior to opening to get approval for the temporary sign for the Grand Opening (Done!)  As I walked back to the shop, I knew it was going to be a gorgeous day!

Before opening is when I get most of my "work" done.  This morning, I attended a meeting of the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association across the street at Union Street Public House.   It was a great session where we learned more about different associations working within Alexandria as well as upcoming large events that will bring a number of people to visit in the area.  It is also a great opportunity to meet my fellow business owners and others in the hospitality industry.

With all of the wind and rain earlier in the week, I've been fighting the pollen, blossom, and seed wars!  On Wednesday, I think I swept out the store no less than 10 times!  Zoe must be pollen central!

I've continued to do work to get word on Zoe out to the local community.  The website "Old Town Alexandria Patch" approved my submission to include my site and they are sending a representative to visit with me today to discuss potential advertising opportunities.  I also met with the editor of the Alexandria Times and purchased an ad to appear in every other issue through early August.  As part of the purchase, Zoe will be featured in a special advertising article called "Shop Around The Corner".

Sadly, I witnessed a car get towed on Wednesday morning.  The Parking Enforcement officer wrote a ticket and then called in a tow truck.  I have no idea what would cause them to tow a car unless the owner had multiple tickets or some other violation no evident to me.  It took the tow truck driver a long time to get the car hooked up.  All I could think about was what to say to the owner if he/she came into the shop looking for their car!  Just as he had hoisted the car up and was getting ready to pull away, the owner came running down the street.  She tried to persuade the driver and the parking enforcement officer to unhook the car but to no avail.  It was towed away.

I finally received the bolts for the display table on Thursday morning.  During a period of quiet in the store, I put it together (I am the queen of the Allen wrench).  It looks so pretty!  I've placed some hooded sweaters on it as well as a table top mannequin wearing a gorgeous one-should Tracy Reese top.  The top just doesn't look as impressive on the hanger and once it was on the model, I had people asking about it!  I also placed the Woodies hatbox filled with Fussy Frog Stationary on the table too!  I am very happy with how it turned out.

More Rebecca Taylor arrived yesterday and I was able to put it out onto the floor immediately!  One of the items sold within 2 hours of first being put on the floor!  That was a first for me!

Excited about the upcoming day and weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Free Cone Day

Despite the on and off rainy weather yesterday, I saw hordes of people walking down the street with ice cream cones.  Zoe is close to no less than 3 ice cream shops (one on Union and two on King) but this seemed extreme, especially considering the cooler weather!  Thanks to friend Darlene (from FBCA) for peeking in the store yesterday and telling me that it was Free Cone Day at the Ben & Jerry's!  Mystery solved!

I've decided I must look like a woman who knows where the money is!  I had another visitor ask me where the closest ATM was located!  Fortunately, this woman actually headed in that direction.

Quite a bit goes on outside the store in a given day.  Sadly, I watched the full evolution of a parking ticket yesterday!  The spaces on Union Street outside Zoe were metered spaces (taking Quarters and Dimes).  Just as I opened last week, the City switched to one of the central meter boxes that allow payment by credit card.  You are probably familiar with them - you pay and then bring the slip back to your car to place in the windshield.  A vehicle parked yesterday and the owners did not return with a slip.  Uh oh.  Within an hour, the Parking Enforcement Officer was circling the vehicle, looking for the slip.  When he didn't find it, he wrote a ticket and placed it under the windshield wiper.  When the car's occupants returned, there was much yelling about the ticket.  I need to find a way to let people know that they need to pay at the central meter!

During quiet times in the store, I am able to work on different activities so that I am not occupied with them at home during my time with Jim.  I did some updates to the website and Zoe's Facebook page as well as worked on items for the upcoming Grand Opening!

The HVAC guys did get the fan running yesterday, which is a step in the right direction!  Just a few more small things to wrap up from the construction work!

Jim always enjoys my "car report" for the day.  With so many cars crossing through the Prince and Union intersection outside the store, I usual have a lot to tell him!  Yesterday's excitement - a Maserati!

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Day Off

Today was my first day off since I opened the store.  As some friends used to say about vacation "I think I need to go back to work to recover from my day off!"

It was a busy, busy day!  I did sleep in (a little).  I finished writing thank you notes to the people who had made purchases yesterday and packaged up a dress to send to my friend Michelle in NC (to see if she likes it for the author photo for her book!)  I dropped everything at the Post Office and then made a Walmart run.  Before I knew it, it was time for my hair appointment.  Then to Trader Joe's and Giant for the weekly grocery shopping.  After unloading, it was off to the store for a while.

With the HVAC issues still on-going, it was probably good that I wasn't open today!  With the door staying closed, the store was reasonable temperature-wise.  But I can't imagine what it might have been like with the door open all day!  I spent most of the time back in the office, working on paperwork and making phone calls.

Two key phone calls - one to Comcast to protest that they didn't give me a credit on my first bill for all of my pain and suffering during the install (fortunately, they understood my plight and gave me a credit).  Second to the Display company to follow-up on the status of the bolts for the table I received last week.  Turns out NONE of the tables they received had any hardware!  And since they come from overseas, there isn't an opportunity to ask that they be sent quickly!  They determined what was needed and have sent them to me (UPS this time) to arrive on Tuesday.

During some lulls between customers on Saturday, I had gone through the software manual and made notes of things that weren't covered or that I didn't yet know how to do.  I decided to call today to ask those questions as I don't want to be making those sorts of calls when customers are in the store.  Wouldn't you know that while I was up front at the point of sale computer, two separate women came up to the door within 10 minutes of each other?  I unlocked it and asked them to come in and apologized for how I looked (not looking overly fashionable in a Hyperion t-shirt and Lilly Pulitzer skirt with no make-up).  I hope someday to be able to be open on Mondays as well but am not yet ready to make that leap!

On Saturday, the very nice lady from the Condos at 130 N. Union Street brought me some information on her tailor and cards for Presto Valet (on Quaker Lane).  She recommends them highly for alterations and thought I may want to share that information with any customers who did not already have a preferred tailor.  I have definitely felt a very warm welcome from the community!

And on Sunday, we had our first two four legged visitors to the store!  Meatball is a boxer and Theo is a mix.  People love their dogs in Old Town!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Zoe's First Weekend

What a difference a day makes!  Saturday was gloomy, damp, and chilly.  Sunday (afternoon) was warmer, sunny, and pleasant!  I find I'm paying a LOT more attention to the weather these days!

I continued to have a lot of lovely visitors to Zoe over the two days.   I love meeting new people and I am having lots of opportunity to do so!  I've been sharing the ResortMaps with out of town visitors and am so glad that I have them as a resource.  It is always so much easier to show someone something rather than try to explain it!

I had forgotten to mention that friends Janice and Karen stopped by with a fabric sample on Friday afternoon.  We've decided to put a pretty fabric curtain in front of the area where the wheelchair lift is housed.  If someone needs to use the lift, we can tie it back so that it is not in the way.  The sample was perfect (they have such good instincts on these things!) and I gave them the thumbs up to purchase it.  Karen will sew the curtains after Jim installs a rod (so we can know how long they need to be).

So, I have a confession.  I had put one of my Chan Luu bracelets on (to show a customer how it looked/worked).  I forgot that I had it on and wore it home on Saturday night.  I told Jim "I think I just shoplifted from myself."  I made sure it was returned to its rightful place today!

Today I had visits from neighbors Mike and Maggie and my friend Martha.  It was so good to see them! I am convinced that Mike and Maggie brought the sun out with them - I told them not to let it leave when they left the store!  And friend Janice came by to help too (after running the GW Parkway Classic in the morning - she is amazing!)

As you can imagine, I am standing quite a bit of the time these days.  The challenge is finding comfortable shoes for all of that standing.  When I was at DSW a few weeks ago, I purchased three pairs of shoes that I thought might be comfortable for spring/summer in the store.  On Saturday, I wore the Dr. Scholls sandals for the first time.  They are AMAZING!  I was on my feet for over 8 hours and they did not hurt at all when I got home!  I have to go back to see if they have then in any other colors!

Tomorrow is my first day off!  (Zoe is closed on Mondays unless someone makes an appointment for me to be open, which I would happily do).  Time to get the hair done and the grocery shopping done!  I'll probably go in for a short while in the afternoon to finish up some paperwork.  It is hard to believe that Zoe is 5 days old!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

After Three Days

So much to report!

One delivery I forgot to mention on Wednesday was the arrival of Zoe's business cards, stationary, and contact cards!  They have been put to immediate good use!  I've been handing out the cards to visitors who are interested in the store as well as including them with some of the thank you notes I've been writing with Zoe's stationary.  And I've had a number of people fill out the contact cards!  They all go perfectly with the brand!

I received a beautiful flower arrangement from friend Michelle in NC on Friday!  The flowers match the colors of Zoe's Velvet Persimmon and Melon wall and look so pretty on the cash wrap desk.  And I've had a number of visitors from local business owners and people who live and work in the area.  It is so much fun meeting everyone!

The weather has been all over the place here in the DC area this week!  Thursday was gorgeous (around 70) and sunny.  Friday was rainy and chilly (40s and 50s).  I try to keep the door propped open as much as possible so that people know that Zoe is open and feel welcome to come in!  I'm looking forward to getting back to Thursday's weather!

We have continued to have sales every day, which is wonderful!  It is such a great learning experience for me to see what people like and buy.  And I love seeing the clothes on people!  Friend Jamie tried on a Frenzii dress that I had just received on Wednesday.  It looked gorgeous on her - more so than it did on the model in the picture!  She is planning to wear it for her Easter dress!

Friend Amy took a half day off and came down from Columbia to visit and do some shopping.  She bought a stunning LiaMolly sweater (Kimono style).  I feel so blessed to have such love and enthusiasm from my friends!  (Plus she took a picture of Griff, the mascot that the COPT FP&A team gave me as a parting gift - he "supervises" me from a perch in the storage room).

Of all of the lines I have in the store, only two have not sold any items.  For one of them, I did a targeted Facebook ad that will be available for the next month.  I targeted those people in the area who already "Like" the brand who may be looking for a place to buy the current spring line.  With Facebook, you pay based on the number of clicks on your ad and can set a limit on how much you want to spend over the time period.  I'll be curious to see how effective it will be!

I'm in the process of planning the grand opening to take place April 29- May 1!  I have submitted the "event" to the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association website as well as contacted Affordable Signs and Banners for a grand opening banner.  I'm working on other targeted advertising as well.  I'll also have more clothing and jewelry coming in during the month of April so I'll have lots of stock for the grand opening!  I can't wait!

People have been very kind and complimentary about the store and the clothing selection.  That is so nice!  Since I bought the majority of it last October (the market for Spring clothes), I hoped that I would have relevant product for this market.

On to Day Four!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Zoe - Day One

What a fantastic first day for Zoe to meet the world!  Some thoughts about starting to "work" full time again...

  1. Wow - I have to put make-up on every day now!
  2. Orientation at the new job was VERY brief.
  3. No forms to fill out (I've been filling out forms for the past year)
  4. I already know where the bathroom is
  5. I don't need to wait for IT to set me up with computer access
  6. My job description contains multiple roles plus the ever famous "other duties as assigned"
  7. I'm losing a lot of weight being on my feet all day (serious diet tip - start your own business!)
  8. I feel like June Cleaver sweeping the floors in high heels
I got to work at around 8:30 to give myself plenty of quiet time to prepare.  I spent some of that time in prayer, knowing that if I got my heart right to start the day, I could handle anything!  At 9:45, I filled the doggie water bowls outside my store and hung my "Open" sign at promptly 10 am!  By 10:02, I already had my first visitor to the store!

At around 11:30, my friend Janice arrived with cupcakes from Alexandria Cupcake!  I HAD to help myself to a Red Velvet!  Soon after, friends Karen and Kathryn came to visit as well!  And I was overwhelmed with lovely gifts of flowers and cookies from friends both in and outside the area as well as my landlord!

Around lunchtime, friends Dave and Stacy stopped by for some shopping and face to face catch-up!  And after lunch, neighbor Claire came shopping as well!  I had a delightful time meeting lots of new people browsing the store - both local residents and people visiting the DC area!

Lots of deliveries yesterday (in addition to all of the flowers!)  A shipment of wrap dresses from Frenzii, and the table for the store (had been on backorder).  And more visits from my broker, my security system salesman, and a couple who had looked at the space for their MedSpa business last summer!

Only one "sketchy" character came in yesterday - asking if there was an ATM in the store.  When we told him the location of the closest one (a PNC machine just a block down Union), he left but didn't head in that direction.  Hmmmm.  Hopefully I won't have a lot of those kinds of folks coming in.

Janice stayed with me until a quarter till five, making the day fly by!  Not long after she left, I realized "I'm tired!"  It had been a busy day plus all of the adrenaline!  I closed out the register and did a small amount of paperwork before heading home.  It had been an awesome day!

On the business side of things, I am seeing the deposits from credit card purchases within 2 days into my bank account.  I will confess it is exciting to have money going INTO the account rather than always going out!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Little Details (and One Slightly Big One)

Yesterday was all about the little details at Zoe.  My first stop was at the bank, to make sure everything was ready to go as far as deposits and cash.  My bank has thus far been very easy to work with and I hope that same level of customer service continues!

I finally took all of my files to the store and spent time making up new ones.  I have completely outgrown my current file box and need to get a second one or invest in a small file cabinet.  I never would have imagined when I started this that I would have so many different vendors!

I also created binders for the cash wrap area and my office.  I still have additional work to do but I have the essentials in place to get me started for opening day.  I called my credit card company to make sure I was clear on all of the processing requirements and capabilities.  I've been getting a TON of calls from other credit card processing houses, trying to sell me their services.  The only thing I can imagine is that once my listing went live (for the phone number), they descended like vultures!  I totaled 11 calls yesterday!  I think they are now getting the hint that I already have a credit card processor!

Janice and Karen came in the afternoon to help with more steaming (Karen is the Steam Queen!) and changing out the hangers (my wooden ones arrived in the shipment Jim and I picked up on Sunday).  Janice and I also did some additional merchandising (now that I have the full complement of racks) and placed the earrings on the earring trees for display.  They are the best helpers anyone could ask for!

Heh - and now for the big detail.  I had noticed that I could not get the fan to come on with my HVAC system.  When the construction foreman did his final walk-through on Friday, I told him that I thought that someone had disabled something during construction.  He called the HVAC company and they came out on Monday.  Turns out that the system is down for the count - there will need to be a new HVAC system installed for Zoe.  Fortunately, our weather here is pretty mild right now - not too hot or too cold.  Hopefully they can get it in sooner rather than later.

Jim and I went back to the store after dinner last night so that he could work on the shelf supports for the 4 foot shelves.  He did some evaluation and some basic work and now knows what he needs to do as far as next steps.  He also did some touch up paint work where we had dinged up the walls during installation of the wall systems.  I worked on preparing Zoe's Open/Closed/Private/Hours signs.

Tomorrow is opening day!  I have a few minor things to take care of today but I think I'm ready for this big "Go Live".  I've really enjoyed sharing this journey with you.  I'll still continue to post about what it is like in the first year of business but it may not be as frequent as my project posts.  Thank you for all of your love, encouragement and support as you've followed my experience!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Almost Ready to Go!

It has been an amazing few days of transformation for "ready to be born" Baby Zoe!

On Friday, we were finally ready to merchandise the store - dress the mannequins,  configure all of the outrigger wall units, and put out the clothes.  My mom and I started early and friends Janice and Karen arrived soon after.  The first thing we did was dress the mannequins using the beautiful persimmon theme that seems to be so prominent for the spring fashions.

A rear view of the window

We also spent a lot of time merchandising the store:

Bags and Belts (Leatherock) and Scarves (Chan Luu)

Chan Luu and Velvet

More fun with belts!

Looking down on the shop from high atop a ladder in the front window

"New Baby" flowers from my friend Marche - aren't they gorgeous?

My mom did me the great honor of being my first customer and I rang up her sale on Saturday afternoon.  

One of my biggest challenges had been finding mirrors for the dressing rooms.  Jim and I went to Lowe's today after dropping my mom at the airport and I finally found what I needed at the right price!  With his expertise, we had them installed in no time flat.  

Since Comcast and Verizon are done torturing me (for now), I am now having what I call "Fun With FedEx".  On Friday morning when I checked my messages at the store, I had a call from a woman who lives in the Torpedo Factory Condominiums (at 130 North Union Street....Hmmmmm).  She said that she had seen a FedEx package sitting in their lobby with Zoe's (and my) name on it.  She was kind to buzz me in when I walked down to get it (it was new furnace filters for Zoe - one of the unglamorous packages I receive!)  What was really annoying was that the address clearly said 130 South Union Street!

Yesterday, when I arrived at the store, she had called again to let me know I had more packages!  She was out for the day yesterday but I called and left her a message today.  Jim and I ended up walking down there and found another building resident who allowed us to enter the lobby and pick up the packages - these were key pieces from the display company that I needed!  Once again, the address was correct but FedEx delivered them to the wrong location!  I will be making a call to FedEx in the morning!

With those packages in hand, Jim put together the final 2 way rack, fully assembled the pole for the steamer and we started on the shelf installations!  We've installed 3 two foot shelves and 2 4 foot shelves.    We found that the shelf supports for the 4 foot shelves aren't notched correctly so Jim will take a jigsaw to those to fix them so the 4 foot shelves won't bow.  I also received more hangers!

Tomorrow and Tuesday will be "finalization" days.  I'm planning to open Zoe to the public on Wednesday!