Tales from a Shopkeep : long time coming

I always hate blog posts that begin with . . . “well, I haven’t written in awhile,” but, that’s just my truth right now. And it’s important to note because, well, I haven’t written in awhile because DAMN, life happened!!

These past, oh, six months or so, have been an absolute whirlwind! We had an amazing holiday season and holiday market at the end of 2016. We ushered in 2017 with a Conduit Press Show in Philly, wherein I took on about twenty new wholesale accounts for my leather business, and a renewed faith in my ability there. And then, when I arrived home from Philly, I came in to the news that . . . OMIGOODNESS OMIGOODNESS, we were going to move Gather!

Let me step back a moment. Most of you know, if you know me at all, that I’ve been trying to move Gather pretty much since the moment of its inception. Fountain Square Mall has been AMAZING to us! I am in no way, shape, or form not grateful for our experiences there; however, we’d grown up (pretty quickly) and it was time to move on. It had BEEN time to move on. And so, for the past TWO years I’ve struggled with keeping news to myself every. single. time. I got a new lease in my hands. And it wasn’t once. It wasn’t twice. Hell, guys, it wasn’t even three times! It was so many times I can’t even count and I don’t even want to share with you. Because, you know what – that’s no longer the point! The point is, when I arrived home from Philly in late February, it was becoming a reality.

I didn’t tell people. I was still scared. I’d been burned before. I’d been let down. So, I tried to keep it to myself. I didn’t plan ANYTHING. If you know me at all, that’s just not me!! I tried to just be cool about it. Let it happen. And let it happen I did.

In March I signed a lease with Olympus Properties to move into 116 N. Walnut, the former Athena location. They would take approximately two months time to renovate the space, and I would take possession May 1.

Those two months both flew and slugged by. Every week Angela and I would peak in the windows and see what work was being done. I completely checked out of the store in Fountain Square Mall, and moved my Conduit Press studio home to fulfill the orders I took while in Philly. I drowned myself in planning the spring Bloomington Handmade Market that was to happen inside Fountain Square Mall on April 29th. I began to suffer from serious decision fatigue. So much work needed done on the new space and I had to choose paint color and flooring and ceiling fans and design a new cash wrap and lighting . . . . and and and. These were choices I never had to think about in Fountain Square Mall, but had thought about time and time (and time) again when I had thought about moving before. But this time, this time was different. This time, was IT.

Still, it wasn’t a reality that we were moving. It just, it wasn’t real. I was afraid something was going to happen. They were going to find something wrong with the space. Someone else was going to come along and take it. I just knew it. And so, instead of drawing up blueprints of where new store displays were going to go, or planning when and where and HOW we were going to move, I checked out. I spent time with my family. I let Angela (god bless Angela) really take over the store in Fountain Square Mall, and I took a break. That’s just reality.

BHM spring 2017 posterThen, one day, while talking to Abby Noroozi at The Green Nursery across the hall, it hit me. This is happening! This is fucking happening people! And, I needed a plan. It wasn’t just going to fall into place without ME putting it into place. And so, I looked at my calendar. I thought about dates and times and places and all the moving parts – and I made the decision to have our last day open in Fountain Square Mall be April 29th, the day of the Spring Bloomington Handmade Market. Go out with a bang they say! I’ve never been one to do things small. Nope, not Talia. So, it just made sense to schedule the Market and our move for the same weekend.

And so, I made the call. I asked for help. I asked for help packing. Moving. Loading. Unloading. Designing. Installing. You name it, I asked for it. And boy oh boy did I get it, in spades.

I can’t possibly express the LOADS AND LOADS AND LOADS of help I received from nearly every single person I’ve ever touched in this town. My best friends, my shop-girls, my makers and my artists packed nearly every single thing in my store in under 5 hours on the Sunday morning after the Bloomington Handmade Market. Seven strangers from IU (thanks to the Arts Alliance of Greater Bloomington) then came and loaded up those boxes (and in some cases walked them across the street – IN THE RAIN) and unloaded them into our amazing, spacious, clean, WHITE, new storefront. In the days that followed I finally checked back in. Hard. I was back. Here was this place, this place I had dreamed of for so long, and it was becoming a reality.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity, yet again, to thank my realtor – Dave Harstad. That man put up with me and my expectations and my picky nature for far too long. I am forever grateful to him, and will recommend him to any of my small business (or large business!) friends who need a commercial realtor in town. That man is amazing.

If I’m honest though – it’s still not real to me. We’re here. We’re open. We moved in like, four days. We opened on May 4th, four days after we closed! TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY artists’ work, displays, a studio, a classroom and so very much more. And we just had our Grand Re-Opening party this past weekend (more on that later) and still, I walk in daily and think to myself, “Am I dreaming?  Is this even real? Did I really do this? ”

I haven’t had a chance yet, to really step back and take it all in. Yes, I spend a lot of time in the store now – back in the back playing catch up on all those orders I took in Philly (like a fool), or playing shopkeep in front; watering flowers and straightening candles and answering questions like a pro. Griffin (my seven year old) is spending the summer with me in the store on many days, and so I’m still . . . catching my breath. Maybe I’ll always be catching my breath here, but damn, what a good place to do it.


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