A New Day at Suzanne’s Cottage

My first day of retirement included Charles serving me breakfast, homemade Strawberry Jam from a friend, and a bouquet of flowers from my colleagues at Drumlin Farm.
A New Day: My first day of retirement included Charles serving me breakfast, homemade Strawberry Jam from a friend, and a bouquet of flowers from my colleagues at Drumlin Farm.

So what do you plan to do with yourself? How will you occupy yourself? Are you planing to travel? Are you moving to Florida?

Over the past month I have heard all these questions, and more. A month ago I told my colleagues I was leaving the Farm. My husband and I planned our retirements for the end of June.

Today is a big day. It is my first day of retirement. No more 9-5 job.

I received a nice send-off from my friends at the Farm yesterday. I enjoyed many people there, but it is time for something new.

Perhaps it is better stated, it is time for a new approach to something else.

A New Day Means Re-inventing Suzanne’s Cottage

Over the past five years I have split my time between my farm job and my “Junk Business”. During that time I have had varying degrees of success, but nothing lasts forever. I’ve tried consignment, group shops, Co-ops, yard sales and flea markets.

Shops come and go. Owners come and go. Business climates come and go. I have never been able to stay in one location for more than a year, and then it’s time to look around. I’m constantly scouting new locations. I am constantly forced to re-think things and “re-invent” myself.

The upside of this is that I have made many friends and I have established a remarkable network of dealers, vendors, and shop owners. The downside is that one cannot grow complacent, and change is always in play.

Solo or Not

People often tell me I should open my own shop. That holds no appeal to me whatsoever. I enjoy the freedom to scour the countryside, looking at shops, meeting people, searching for treasures to repurpose for home or for sale.

This business is a creative and social outlet for me. I have no desire to be captive in a store on a beautiful summer day (that is why I no longer work at the farm). I also do not want to be a slave to office hours for 4 to 7 days a week. I don’t want to worry about rent, electric bills, payroll, schedules, heating and air conditioning, snow plowing and shoveling, advertising, etc. You get the idea.

Of all the business models I’ve experimented with, I tend to like the Co-op best. But how does one choose? What do I look for in a new shop? Well that is what I write about in the next post, because this was just too lengthy for one article.

So next week I will hit on the following points:

  1. Owner
  2. Location
  3. Vendor Churn
  4. Customer Traffic
  5. Days Open for Business
  6. Web and Social Media Presence
  7. Price Points & Customer Demographics
  8. Similar Design Aesthetics

I’m excited about the next installment. It’s 95% complete, and once the minor tweaking is done, it will be published.

Until then, please feel free to comment and share.

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It’s Safe to Come In (Pie Safe, that is!)

FullSizeRender (1)Come On in!

This is what presently greets you when you walk into Suzanne’s Cottage. A compact pie safe!

It’s eye candy for a Treasure Hunter Junk Lady like myself.

This particular piece is about 10 inches square at the base, and about 24 inches high. I’d get you specific measurements, but I’m not at home as I jot down these notes. I picked it up in my travels in New Hampshire, and I fell in love with it the moment I laid my eyes upon it.

What is it – Really?

I call it a pie safe, more as shorthand than fact. There are no shelves it it, but there is a hook in the top for hanging some food stuff , and the screen was clearly for keeping bugs and mice at bay.

Fellow pickers at the local swap shed have several nicknames for me, one of them being “Lamp Lady”. So true to form, I stuck a lamp in this artifact and called it a day.

I smile whenever I pass this cool vertical design element in my front hallway. I’ve had it there for a few months, and I still think it’s a found treasure.

Charles, my other half, isn’t so convinced (yet). He is quite supportive and he’s reasonably knowledgable for a guy whose idea of decorating is picking up his dirty laundry off the floor. So I trust he’ll come around soon.

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How to Stay Closer to Home

I captured a bunch of photos of my new booth space. This is the closest you will ever get to me doing a "selfie"!
I captured a bunch of photos of my new booth space. This is the closest you will ever get to me doing a “selfie”!

I’m Back!

I’ve been incommunicado for a few weeks. I made a major decision to cut back my weekly driving and remain closer to home. More about that as this story unfolds.

My Self-imposed Grind

For a couple years I have had shop space in the lovely little town of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. For the past year, I have been keeping space in two shops. My most recent space was at Covey House. Clare has a beautiful shop on the Town Common, and her husband has just opened a cute little cafe within the shop.

Meanwhile, I had acquired space in 101 Treasures in Wilton, NH. Now I was driving to the farm two days a week, one day to Fitzwilliam, and another to Wilton. My hobby was becoming a chore. I was on the road four days a week.

From Suzanne’s Cottage (home), the farm is a one hour drive to the East. Fitzwilliam is a one hour drive in a Northwesterly direction, and Wilton is an hour North. And since I know you will ask, Fitzwilliam is about 45 minutes from Wilton.

The grind of this schedule has weighed heavily on me for the past couple months. Though I plan on leaving the farm this summer, I knew my schedule needed to cut back sooner.

My Solution: Consolidate – Closer to Home

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to expand my footprint at 101 Treasures. So I made the difficult decision to leave Covey House and consolidate both shops into a single, larger space. By so doing, I saved a day of driving every week.

This made sense for scheduling, driving and economics. But leaving friends is difficult and creates a stress of it’s own. I’ll miss Clare and the Covey House gang (though I will still drop by to shop and visit, but not every week).

In the meantime, I have been warmly welcomed by Donna, at 101 Treasures. I look forward to establishing myself in my new location, closer to home.

When I mentioned this title to Charles, he started singing an old Grand Funk Railroad tune. He’s been singing this all week. I swear he’s gonna drive me nuts.

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