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Running a Creative Business | The Lucketts Store

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.

 


I could go on from now til next Tuesday with all that goes into owning your own store, but for now I’ll stick to the highlights…

  • 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.

You can follow Suzanne on the Lucketts Store Blog, Shop Lucketts online or see upcoming events on their website.







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Comments

  1. Centsational Girl says:

    Fantastic article Suzanne (and Marian!) – amazing wisdom from a lady who’s done it right! Thanks for sharing on this lovely Sunday!
    xo
    Kate

  2. Very timely advice as just this morning I talked to my husband about maybe taking on a second booth at a second location. Because, you know, I’ve been in business for 5 months now, so I must know what I’m doing. ;) I’m still trying to nail down my style. So maybe growing isn’t quite the best thing. Yet.

  3. awesome advice! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. What wonderful, humble advice. So wonderful that she still appreciates the little things. Being genuine in life is more important to me now that ever. Thanks for sharing.

  5. CAROL SAMSEL says:

    I used to sell when I didn’t work full time and I truly enjoyed it. Now that I’ve been working full time and not selling my own stuff I find that I really miss it and I’m considering cutting back to part time so I can sell again. Kinda scary cause you really get used to the full time income.

  6. Amazing advice thanks for sharing..can’t wait to read more!

  7. I love this post and am very inspired by you both!

  8. So true- very inspiring! I admire both of you!

  9. Great advice again! I’ll continue to read this stories, because they lift me up.

    Goedele

  10. Carolina says:

    Thank you Marian once again a great post and good to hear that you had a nice vacation!

    I loved this week to read all about Karen, Jami and now Suzanne wonderful advices and inputs coming from such wonderful women that made it! Very encouraging and inspiring. Perfect timing for me since I am working on my coming soon Blog and business. I did save those posts so that I can read them again any time I need help and encouragement.

    Thank you so much Suzanne to share your awesome experience with us! I loved to read about the woman behind the great Lucketts Store. I hope one day to make a trip from California and be able to visit.

    Carolina

  11. This is so inspiring. I can’t wait for more entrepreneurship stories! I’ve also spoken with the local small business association they have a lot of great free resources for local businesses and give great pointers! :)

  12. JaneEllen says:

    You ladies are all such inspirations always. I read your blogs and posts and think if they had the courage why can’t I. I tend to get rebuffed too easily. I love to make more rustic pieces but people here (Grand Junction, CO) don’t seem to like the distressed style. That’s my style but how do I find a style that will please me and the people I want to sell to? Keep trying right? Find different people to sell to?

    I don’t have small children (well does a 70 yr. old hubs that’s home all the time count?), When I’m not trying to keep the joint cleaned up (with a shedding black lab, an orange shedding cat and a husband underfoot it seems that’s a daily job, I’m cutting out projects, planning what I’ll be making, getting started.

    My favorite Aunt used to tell me, you can either sew or you can clean house, so right. Have to remind myself that when I want to do a project and the house needs cleaning up. Once I get into the project I can stay with it and ignore the dog hair, yuk.

    Reading all the encouraging posts has helped me stayed more centered on what I want to do. How you all find the time to encourage and inspire others is beyond me when you have alot more going on than I do. I need to get more hard headed and not let a little discouragement stop me.

    I keep trying to find my niche and I’m pretty sure paper crafting is it altho I do enjoy making/redoing wood items to fix up. I know one thing for sure, I have to create.

    Since the end of last year when I stumbled upon some blogs and found out what was out there I have never been more creative. It seems there aren’t enough hours in each day to do what all is in my head.
    I’m 72 and have been creative most of my life. It just seemed the right thing for me to be doing even when I had 4 small children under foot I found time to keep a clean home and create.
    Thank you all for the inspiration.

  13. Linden Townhouse says:

    Great advice from a pro! Thanks very much!

  14. I have loved this series! Thank you for the inspiration! — Pauline

  15. Pat C. says:

    Thank you so much, Suzanne, for sharing your personal story and the lessons you learned along the way… what excellent advice!

    And thank you,, Marian, for opening up your blog to these successful and inspiring entrepreneurs!

    xoxo

  16. Mary Borgsmiller says:

    Great inspiration!

    I just finished painting my “French Provincial” dresser Lucketts green. My hubby didnt want me to do it that color because he says we worked so hard to get rid of all the “avocado” out of our house FINALLY! I bought linen but I I just couldn’t help myself. I KNOW it is meant to be Lucketts green. Should I wait a day or two before I sand/distress it? So far I am very happy with the paint color as is but I want to distress it and then apply wax or hemp oil. I bought both because I can’t decide which to do…what are your suggestions?

  17. Thank you so much for sharing. Very grounded advise.

  18. Thank you both for such a humble, yet very encouraging post! As a single woman who works full – time, I still try to find time to do the furniture painting gig/freelance writing/ blogging. There are just never enough hours in a full day! But, we can only do our best.

  19. Great article! We visited Luckett’s Store for the first time a couple of weeks when we were driving home from Charles Town….we live in Rehoboth Beach, DE. I fell completely in love! I was amazed at the buying and selling going on at the store…people buying the furniture right off the porch and loading it up in their cars! They clearly have the magic touch!

  20. Marion I love, love, love this series! When I was in Haven stalking you and other successful DIY/Design bloggers, I kept putting up pics of me with yall on my fb. My adopted dad commented on one of the posts “Brandie you look so happy-looks like you finally found your tribe” I was happy so much so in fact that if I had not had a roomate I probably would have gone back to my room and cried tears of joy! I am a designer and I recently came out of a few week stint where I was very busy on a job with some design and a lot of furniture painting work. When I finally got a break I stopped to take the time to ask myself a few questions like “what did I just do that I was passionate about-design and furniture painting, what did I do I was not-spray paint clothes racks-etc.” I consulted my design mentor and those closest to me and assessed the direction I was headed. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to read The Graphics Fairies post and see her say “you must find your tribe” among other things that were totally right on concerning the things I had been just evaluating! Thanks so much for the series and I hope it will have more parts!

  21. Great advice! So proud of you, Marian, for setting limits. Stay true to yourself!

    Sue

  22. I have been shopping at Lucketts for a long time, but I can still remember the first time I stumbled on it. So much cool stuff in one spot filled with people who “get it”. That was the key for me-not many people really get it-I was the only one in my family who loved vintage, so finding out there are others like me was the best! Great post and the most inspiring store-Thanks for sharing!
    Tammy
    Sweet Elizabeth Jane

  23. Love this post, so many points and inspirations..to each who have added their stories this week thank you, I think you are on to something here…would be fun once a month…to here a story…Glad you had some time with family….so important because they are what counts….

    To think Lucketts was just a spot in the road and now look….I guess the comment if you build it they will come

  24. Wonderful advice! One step at a time and be “rediculousley nice” to your customers! Just makes sense but we all need reminders!

  25. Thanks ladies! This weekend I was trying to balance a flea market booth & my kiddo’s out of town/state soccer tournament. Luckily, I found a way to balance both, and yes, while prepping for both + home re-construction, I felt I was just hanging on. But I balanced it out, pushed hard, and now feel back in control and ready to move forward (oh, after I can at least walk thru the garage again and have more than ‘essential’ laundry washed ; )!

  26. Rosalina says:

    Good advice. Helps to know that others that have started small did succeed and are so willing to share the things they have learned. This information is so helpful for others starting out so they won’t make so many mistakes. My daughter has been seriously looking into how she can start her own business. She’s on your mailing list so will be reading this post. Thanks again for having your friends share their experiences.

  27. Designed with purpose says:

    Such great advice! I enjoy hearing other women’s stories on how they are using the gifts God gave them. We need to do it more!

  28. No Debt! That is key! Of course we all want printed ribbon with our name on it,our cars wrapped with our web site,and a billboard on the highway. Just say no unless you got the cash!

  29. Great advice! I’ve benefited from each of the guest blogger posts, just as I have from your wisdom, Marian! Thanks for lining up such a great group of savvy business women.

  30. This advice is priceless. I’m going through a similar process myself here in Wales, and looking at putting some items in a small concession at an antiques shop. I worried that I should be aiming bigger, so to hear Suzanne say that she evolved from small beginnings is GREAT and so reassuring. Thanks so much Suzanne, x

  31. loved reading your story Suzanne. :) you are one inspiring lady!

  32. Have so enjoyed this series. . .look forward to each new post. . .perhaps this can be a regular feature???

  33. Thank you again for sharing your experience so generously. Your combination of pratical tips and encouraging words are priceless!

  34. Thank you again for sharing your experience so generously. Your combination of practical tips and encouraging words are priceless!

  35. I have been reading your blog every morning for about a year. I have never made a comment before but I thought today was the perfect day. I found my self this weekend in a little town called Leesburg, Va. I realized that I was just 8 miles from Luckett’s. After reading your blog, I felt like I knew the place before I even arrived. I had the absolute pleasure shopping in the store and all the little out shops around it. I was with 2 of my sisters and we spent almost 2 hours in the shop. Of course, I purchased your paint. We also stopped at On a Whim while we were there. What an absolute great weekend I had. Thanks for sharing on your blog it really gave me the incentive to visit Lucketts. I wrote a blog post about it, if you have time I would love for your to read my post at http://sister-number-5.blogspot.com.

  36. Great advice that seems just as down to earth as Suzanne. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Ashley says:

    One of our antique stores (a large multi-vendor) here in town has a on their marquee “Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Coming Soon!”
    And a wonderful display of posts with all of your colors. I’m so excited my friend and I already have a project planned!

    We can’t wait and love you and your blog & ideas SO much Marian! Thanks for all you do!

  38. Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m two weeks out to signing my lease on our new space. I have the EXACT same business philosophy that Suzanne put in print. It’s uncanny when someone expresses something so weIl that you think and feel. Frankly, it’s a little calming to read something like this that actually works so well for someone who is enjoying success. Especially when you’re on the cusp of a new adventure.

  39. Great post! I loved hearing Suzanne’s story. Her points of wisdom are perfect as I’m starting to grow my blog and sell painted furniture. Thanks for this great series. x

  40. Loved reading this entry! My sister and I opened our own business 3 years ago and it’s always so interesting to learn about other businesses and Luckett’s is a business we have always admired!

  41. Marlene says:

    Great inspiration–Thank you!

  42. Cindy B says:

    I just discovered your website not too long ago and wondered if Lucketts Store was the same one I remembered just north of Leesburg! Glad to know that it is! I lived in Leesburg for a while (then went to Burke, then to Warrenton, then to AL, and now NC….), and one of my VERY favorite pieces (if not THE most favorite) of furniture is a walnut china cabinet that came from Lucketts. I was fortunate to score it at a yard sale in Fairfax about 9 or 10 years ago (the family was selling off their dining room furniture to make room for a playroom), but the former owner told me she bought it from Lucketts. And no, it’s not painted….it’s a gorgeous piece of furniture as it. Love the article and wish I were closer to Lucketts!

  43. Marian and Suzanne…you are both such a HUGE inspiration! I also find myself comparing my growing business to other fabulous established creative businesses. When I compare, it makes me feel I’m not growing ‘fast’ enough. This post is re-assuring and spot on! Thank you for the great advice!

  44. Why not support a local business by using a nearby ‘man and his van’ to move any
    heavy items of furniture.

Trackbacks

  1. Friday Finds says:

    [...] of other pieces out of my home and keep that one.  It’s really special.  We’ll see.  Suzanne’s voice keeps ringing in my head telling me, “Always sell your inventory….do not keep it for [...]

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