Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's in a Name?

It's safe to say that we are settled! Three weeks ago today, we were still conducting business across the street and it's amazing to think of how much we accomplished in such a short period of time. I have done very little writing about our transition over to the new store front, mainly because we've just been too busy to put down in words what has been taking place, not for lack of material.

One of the most exciting opportunities coming out of our move was the ability to have ownership over the store front!

At our old place on the East side of the street, I never did anything with the outside...didn't even put up a real sign. It felt very "commercial." If I had gotten a sign, it would have been big, yellow block letters to match all of the other signage on the building. And, it was over $1,000 for a sign that spoke nothing of "us."

On the West side of the street in our new store front, we were given creative license to change the facing for our signage! We had discussed keeping the original color, but re-painting the store name and matching the exact shade of green would have been difficult. We also decided that we needed to move wholly away from the blue chair branding...from inside out. Not because we didn't like it. But, when you move into a store, that was embraced and loved by a whole community, it really felt important to make everything about their place...ours.

We talked about painting the outside Florence*. I know. Risky. Bright. Like, glow in the dark bright. I was driving home from vacation on the Wednesday of the moving week thinking about it the whole way. I had basically given up on the idea of Florence, but when I pulled up to the store, Macy had her paintbrush out and had the entire bottom half already painted. We were committed. And, to be honest, I loved it.

Florence is our "us" color. It has always been the color of the "shabby" part of our logo. Of the dresser in our picture logo. Of the t-shirts we sometimes wear to the store. Of the blouses we all wore to the holiday stroll last year.

I also wanted to embrace all of the square footage on the outside of the building. In six bullet points, anyone who walks by, drives by or sees a picture should know what we love and do.

I could have painted the lettering myself on the top. But, that is in the category of those aggravating projects that I hate working on...like making wood signs and pennant banners. I can do them. I just don't enjoy it. So, I enlisted the superior skills of resident artist Theresa Jansen and asked her to put our message on top. My only direction was, it doesn't have to be perfect. If I wanted perfect lettering, I would have ordered outdoor vinyl stick-ons. I want it to look hand painted.

We painted the door white so it popped off all of the Florence on the outside! And, the glorious expanse of windows allowed for a small painted chalkboard to be used as messages and Store Hours without blocking anything from view.

Hindsight is 20/20. I probably lost a lot of potential business across the street because I never had my name posted on the outside. Now that our personality is revealed on the storefront and our message is clearly posted, I feel that we have a lot more first time visitors checking us out.

Not to mention that the look on the outside screams the personality of our store! And, in case you are wondering, you can sure as heck bet we even distressed the wood framework so some of that original, rich green still peeks through!

*For those Annie Sloan Chalk Paint buffs, here's a few notes about painting outdoors! The outside took less than two quarts of paint in a single coat application. We DID NOT wax. After the paint has cured entirely (in about two to four weeks), it should be fairly weather resistant. Time will tell, but the distressing on the outside will lend to any further weathering or chipping.

Even the lettering on the sign is painted in Old White and the chalkboard on the window is also painted with Graphite. It is the recommended 3 coats of paint and cleans nicely with a damp cloth.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Best of the Best

Well...it's Thursday night and I realized that I haven't done a Furniture Friday post in...errr...weeks? months? What with the Bazaar in June, moving stores, painting walls, installing moulding, working on custom orders, I just haven't found the time. So, this is a condensed Furniture Friday post of my favorite things currently in the store. Most of these are pieces I haven't already blogged about but really love. So, here goes...

I had this small executive desk finished for about two weeks before I dropped it off. I took straight over to Blue Chair before we moved in but hadn't put new knobs on it. I took a handful of sample knobs over to see which ones I liked and ended up LOVING the mismatched look of them so left it. I just love how simple yet fun this desk is!

The Barcelona Orange side table was completed by one of the Paint and Play Workshop participants! Not bad, huh?! 

I blogged about this one earlier in the week. My first Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Makeover. 

Patti lent her creative touch to this dresser! Florence with a touch of Old White, Graphite damask stenciling and dark walnut wood stain on top!

This is a special dresser, designated to help fund the Cornerstone Bible Church brand new MOPS group. As much as I love the curvy, frenchy, chunky pieces of furniture, I'm a total sucker for a simple piece with chunky wood knobs. What makes this one so special are the knobs and the inside.

The knobs have images from vintage sewing patterns decopauged on them with a coat of dark wax. The insides of the drawers are lined with the same vintage patterns to add a fun, visual interest that coordinates with the knobs!

The outside is painted in Milk Paint, Lexington Green that really shows off the "pickled" effect on this dresser from years of cracked varnish.

This coffee table is RAD! I'm not usually into that mid-century look but this was such a unique piece I couldn't pass it up. The top is a laminate finish with gold starburst pattern all over it! Someone is just going to love it!

I've had this wardrobe for a really long time, but I still really like it. This is another milk paint piece painted in Sea Foam Green.

I threw this one in there because my 5-year old painted it. She picked out the Napoleonic Blue along with the exact piece of burlap to cover the seat.

And, the vintage gas pump. Cool!

As we continue to settle in, I'm hoping to get back into the Thursday night/Friday morning furniture posts regularly.

In the meantime, I have some great shots of the outside with our new color and signage...all done by hand!

Making good use of the abundant window space with side by side chalkboards for messages, sale notices or anything else fun and worth mentioning!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Craigslist Scammer

I write about craigslist a lot. The reality of it is, without craigslist and other online venues (ebay and etsy), I wouldn't have a business, least of all a store.

A few months ago, I did a two-part series on buying and selling via craigslist in my "Avoiding the Craigslist Killer" post. I hit on the major scams out there and ones that I've been confronted with via e-mail.

Well, this past Saturday I was hit with a doosie...and one that I almost stepped right into. So, I feel that since I recommend buying and selling via craigslist on a weekly basis, it would be worth sharing my experience.

Buyer: Large China Cabinet painted white. Hello let me know if its still available for sale asap
China cabinet in question

Me: Yes...it is still available. Do you want to see it today.

From this point, buyer asks about condition which I tell him its in good shape...yada yada yada. Then, it starts getting...err...unusual.

Buyer: Well am ok with the price and the condition so let me have the address or zip code of where it is I want to forward it to my transport company to calculate how much it will cost me for the pickup because i will not be able to come and see it due to my work thanks.

If I were selling from home, I would never give my address at this point in a transaction. But, since it is a storefront, I pass it along.

Me: Just want to let you know I don't have refunds or exchanges so am always leary about selling sight unseen.

Buyer: okay, i have forwarded your address to my transport company and am okay with the transport charges also they charge me 450 i think have a very good business now hope you have a paypal account? thanks

From our first text to this one, only 24 minutes has passed. That means in 24 minutes, this guy was able to get a price for transport...on a Saturday morning...without knowing the weight of the item. Maybe that is possible, I just know in my experience in calculating shipping for large items, it takes MUCH longer than 20 minutes.

Paypal account? hmmm....strange that he jumps straight to that. Maybe I'm paranoid.

Me: I have paypal. Let me know when you are ready to send payment and i will send paypal account. What your name? Where are you having it sent?

Buyer: okay thanks you can send me your paypal email now and delete the post on craigslist so that I can make the payment now because I want to pick up tomorrow.

He is skirting my question. Who are you and where are you. Plus, I'm not available "tomorrow," i.e. Sunday so it's not ok to arrange pick up for a Sunday without making special arrangements.

Me: Ok. I will do that. What's your name and location?

Buyer: right now am on sea but I will be shipping to my wife in NY the shipping company is also coming from NY.

If this isn't a red flag, I don't know what is. He is on sea!? Who makes craigslist transactions on sea. Really!

Me: OK...well, when you have a moment, please call me and we can arrange the details. I will need to send you a detailed invoice that includes your name and contact info along with a receipt for you to sign so that transport company has a receipt to show when they pick up. Thank-you.

At this point, I called the number texting me. I got a generic google voicemail that said to record my name for the caller and leave a message. No names identifying the caller and no calls even being accepted. Then, the buyer attempted to call me from a different phone number (different area code and all) that was patchy so we couldn't talk.

Buyer: I'm sorry i can't call or receive callsa the mo. i am on sea and i will not be back until next month i can only text so lets do this here...

This guys much to anxious to close the deal.

Me: I make a habit of only dealing locally for craigslist related transactions. However, i would feel more comfortable completing this sale through our etsy store. I can put this hutch up on etsy as a reserved sale and you can complete the sales process through etsy.com. I will email you the link to the item in our etsy store that way your transport company will have a sales invoice to bring to pick up and etsy is in a position to protect both the buyer and seller. If that is agreeable, I will get that posted about 2 this afternoon.

Buyer: can i just make payment now and Muches come over tomorrow for the pick up or? can i just make payment now and Muches come over tomorrow for the pick up or NOT?

Me: No. sorry. I need to ensure that you have the proper paperwork to protect myself and you.

So, there are a few reasons that I was hesitant to complete this transaction.

1. Craigslist strongly recommends that you sell locally and in person. For good reason. I have shipped items before and I've even traveled to sell stuff. But, each transaction is a case by case scenario where I felt comfortable with the deal because I spoke to a reasonable and accommodating person.

2. Paypal is not a fool proof system...for the seller! Paypal notoriously protects the buyer and not the seller. I know multiple people (including myself) who have funds withdrawn because of a buyer dispute. It takes months to resolve those issues...and they only get resolved with the cooperation of the buyer. This is my experience...you may have had a different experience from this.

3. What's the worst that could happen? Money gets deposited into paypal. Transport company comes to pick up hutch. They take it. Buyer says he never got item. Money gets withdrawn. I'm out $700 and a high quality piece of furniture.

4. Perhaps this a bigger scam that I'm not aware of. I don't know if there is a way to hack into paypal accounts with no more than the account email. But, since it links to my bank account. I don't want to find out.

5. In the thousands of transactions I've made through craigslist (yes...thousands), every reasonable person not only agrees to reasonable, safe terms of the sale, but appreciates it. For example, wanting proper paperwork and receipts in place...that's a no brainer! Not sharing the address until they are committed and on their way to purchase...they definitely recognize the safety measure and sense in that. So, when this guy was rushing me for accounts and addresses without agreeing to obtaining and signing an invoice, that just didn't sit right with me.

6. And, maybe this wasn't even a scam. Maybe it was a guy excited to buy a hutch for his wife and surprise her with a delivery in New York. But, who am I kidding. I don't know any guy that would take the risk of surprising their wife with furniture without their consent.

All in all, I share this very wordy blog post to the avid seller, lest you get caught up in the excitement of a big sale and fall into a trap buy an over eager buyer/scammer!

Good luck future craigslisters!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint

We are within days of receiving our first shipment of Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint! There are over 80 retailers throughout the US and Canada on the list to sell this line of Milk Paint, and we are super fortunate to be one of them. 

A few weeks ago, I ordered my sample kit so that I could start playing with the colors and finishes. I saved this particular piece especially for milk paint. 

Of my three sample colors, I opted to paint this one shutter Gray and Ironstone. 

The original mirror was missing so I used the frame to make a chalkboard instead. Perfect as a dining room buffet! 

Ironstone is painted in the details.

I was hoping for a chippy look throughout, but it really only chipped on the legs and the white decorative piece on the front. 

I left the top in its original stain, but used the Hemp Oil to refresh the look and polish out some of the wear and scratching. 

It worked like a charm. Completely refreshed the top into the rich golden wood tones. 

The entire outside was given a protective finish with the beeswax which I loved. The beeswax was like tapioca pudding! Soft, textured and went on like a dream. 

I have a sample of Tricycle Red that I will be playing with this week. 

And, another post coming this week...a craigslist first for me! It's a story worth sharing as I was nearly caught up in a craigslist scam via text and paypal! Wait til' you hear about it.
Until then...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Picking Big Bear

I spent the last five days in beautiful Big Bear Lake with my family.

The view from our room
Among water skiing, boating, fishing and relaxing, Big Bear is a prime location for picking. Along the main Blvd. from Big Bear Lake and into Big Bear City (a stretch of about 7-10 miles), there are well over half a dozen thrift stores. We arrived on Friday which meant I had an entire Saturday to engage in some local yard saling and thrift shopping.

Yard saling was slow going, though. But, if you endure long enough, there is almost always a treasure worth seeking somewhere along the route.

Meet the bearded boys! They. Had. The. Most. AWESOME. Stuff!

A vintage gasoline pump with the original pumping mechanism on the inside that I'm pretty sure they had no intention of selling but I made an offer they couldn't refuse.

I was like a kid in a candy shop at their house! I bought a set of antique theatre seats that are UHMAZING! They had some fabulous antique furniture that I had to pass up in order to get the antique seats and the gas pump home. But, they threw in some of the most gorgeously chipped enamel pots, one of which is yellow and orange. I've NEVER seen a yellow enamel pot! 

One of the guys says to me, "hey...come check out the inside of the house." Under normal circumstance, a man with a lumberjack beard, tattoos all over the place, a cigarette hanging out of the mouth and a "Fed Sex" shirt inviting me into his house would be a MAJOR RED FLAG...but not this guy. I just knew his house was cool!

I walked through his front door (which had hand made stained glass windows) and was transported into an old west style saloon! These guys hand crafted a saloon for their living room!

On the top of the saloon bar was hand burned art.

These guys are super talented and have an amazing eye for antique finds and vintage decor.

I was begging them to sell me the old tin Coca Cola sign with no luck.

It was so much fun sharing stories with these guys and made for one great day of picking!

The other really neat piece I found in Big Bear was a unique chandelier.

I loved it when I saw it but it is so different from my usual style. I sent a picture to one of my antiquing buddies asking for his opinion. He said "GET IT!"

I did some research, and I believe this is an Italian made Tole Chandelier from the 1950's. I haven't done much more digging than that, but who cares where and when it came from. It's just downright cool and I'm excited to have a unique lighting fixture for the new store space!

Oh yeah...about that! You may be asking yourself..."wait, she was on vacation? I thought the store was moving this last weekend. That can't be right!"

Well...I was on vacation while my team back home spent the weekend and first part of this week moving.

In some regard, I felt guilty about enjoying myself knowing that a dozen plus people were working on my behalf to move furniture, paint walls, install lights, crown molding and baseboards. While the business-minded, leader and go-getter part of me was itching to be part of the moving action and lend a helping hand, the mom/wife part of me (that gave up a real-paying career with full benefits and a car to be a better mom/wife) couldn't wait to get away and enjoy the scenery and outdoor fun.

And, I did enjoy it...taking a nap in the middle of the day with my two-year old, fishing with my five year old, water skiing with my husband, BBQing with my in-laws...

I enjoyed my time away because I didn't have a single thing to worry about, knowing that Macy, Caitlin, Mom, Dad, Patti and soooo many other people helped to move everything across the street, and are continuing to help with the set up of the new store. I'm so blessed with an amazing support team that "handles business..." literally!

I did leave my husband and kids behind to come home a couple of days early to help get things set up and I'm really excited about how it is all shaping up.

But, that is a blog post all in itself sometime in the next couple of days!

We will be working feverishly over the next couple of days to get things up and running in time for our Paint and Play this weekend and National Night Out this Tuesday night. And, though the store is a disaster, stop by to peek through the windows to check our progress!

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