Well, I am back home from taking a week vacation to the shores of Maine with my family. I’ve been blogging for over three years and haven’t gone “unplugged” for that long and it was about time! There are all sorts of reasons why I haven’t taken the time off, but the main one is that I LOVE what I do. I love this blog, selling antiques, painting furniture, taking pictures, shopping, social media and everything that goes along with this business. But it was really good for me to step away for a few days.
While I was away, I asked some of my entrepreneurial friends to write a post sharing their business story and advice they had for those currently running a business or those wanting to start a business. The response has been great, so I’m going to continue to share some stories. (I find them pretty inspiring as well!) When I was thinking of who else to ask, I immediately thought of Suzanne, the owner of The Lucketts Store. This woman is amazing. She took a dilapidated building in the middle of nowhere and turned it into a premier shopping destination for antique lovers and design gurus. She put the one-stoplight town of Lucketts on the map and, more exciting than that, she started that journey as a stay-at-home mom on a very tight budget. I love it when big things comes out of humble beginnings. I hope Suzanne’s story and advice will be encouraging to you…
Hi, I’m Suzanne from Lucketts Store in Leesburg VA. I’m happy to help out with a post about my start and my humble thoughts on business.
As a child I never stopped selling all my stuff. While other kids were playing jump rope on the playground, I basically had a roadside stand set up by my book bag selling whatever toys made the cut that day. My mom could never figure out where all my stuff went and why, as an 8 year old in the 60’s, I always seemed to have money. So it was kind of ironic as I grew up, that I just couldn’t seem to figure out what I would be good enough at to make a living. DAH!
I was a stay at home mom living with my husband and 6 month old son, in a tiny unfurnished apartment in Ashburn, when I discovered Tilletts auction. I was overwhelmed with the cool retro stuff that I thought was amazing and was going for no money. Fortunately I also had no money, so it was a match made in heaven. We eventually moved to an old farmhouse where I would fill the barn with my auction treasures and have epic barn sales, then a tiny booth in an antique mall (yay! I was sure that was it..I hit the big time), then I started working for free, in exchange for space at My Wits End, an antique store outside of Leesburg. My husband saw great potential in the abandoned building up the road and, since things were going pretty well at My Wits End we decided to give it a go, and The Old Lucketts Store was born.
- Grow one step at a time with in your own comfort zone. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and want to become bigger better faster before you really get a grip on what you are doing.
- I am always in favor of business relationships being based on a win win. The more everybody you deal with respects you, and knows you are looking out for their best interest as well as you own, the longer and more solid relationships you will build.
- Don’t go into debt this really goes along with growing one step at a time, its also called don’t get too big for your britches. I started out with maybe a hundred dollars. I would go to auction, buy up the box lots that were going for a dollar…pick out the the items with some interest, clean them up, display them to the best of my ability, and hopefully turn my hundred into two or three hundred. I have done this thousands of times over the last 20 years. When you own everything outright, you can’t get into too much trouble.
- Always sell your inventory….do not keep it for your self…that is not a business, that’s shopping! This may seem unbelievable, but whatever I want for my house I generally buy from other people, I do not keep my own stuff.
- There is a great saying “without a goal, you have no direction.” I always had one clear thought: to have a neat old place on the side of the road, where you hoped you’d have a great find … and you did! That’s it…my direction was as simple as that.
- Be ridiculously nice to your customers, they are your best asset.
- Lastly, it is often difficult to find balance when you are running your own business and have a family. Do your best, don’t beat yourself up…..an enjoy both as much as you possibly can, you’re lucky!
Suzanne’s advise has been so great for me personally. She happened to call one day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed at the scale of this entire milk paint thing and she shared point #1 with me. Grow at your own pace and in your comfort zone. It brought tears to my eyes to hear a business woman I admire tell me that it’s okay to say no (or not yet) to growth. That idea seemed crazy to me. Why would anyone turn down business? I started following her advice and saying no and my stress levels immediately went down and I felt I was back in control of my business instead of hanging on for dear life. My hope for this series is that you will receive some timely advice or encouragement as I did.