Saturday, August 11, 2012


Yesterday evening after having a wonderful lakeside dinner at Lake Isabella with Marcia, her folks and their friends, Marcia and I decided to go on into Oakley to stop and see Irene in her new shop and then take in some of Oakley's "Second Friday" events.

We parked in the lot across the street, then walked to the other side to Irene's shop. Two racks of clothing were outside on display. The "Open" banner beckoned. We were greeted by Irene's "Happy Hugs". We saw that she had a "browser" but didn't know if the "browser" would eventually be a "buyer".

Irene shared "her day" with us which had been an overwhelming experience. A person who presented herself as "market savy" interjected hurtful comments and had plenty of suggestions of why Irene "was not - this or that" and that she, the interjector, knew someone to consult with Irene. Marcia and I were not totally clear as to the exact reason why this person had become an advisor to Irene. Where did she come from in the first place? What were her motives? Was she drumming up business for herself or someone else? Did she have an alterior motive?

I'm thinking "alterior motive". Maybe because the high-end design shop moved in next door - Irene's place became an "item" for take over by someone who had their own plans for the shop and that Irene slipped in to buy the shop before this other person had the chance to negotiate and buy it for herself or maybe her friend had "her eye" on it. Sounded "fishy" to Marcia and me.

Irene is highly talented (in our opinion) making exquisite arrangements of scarves, jewelry, purses and accessories. Her shop is "eye pleasing". She has a "gem" if she can make it work. I'm willing to help out with my business and artistic thoughts, too. I watch many "do-over" business shows and I think I've taken in a lot of information of "what to do's" to save a business or turn it around.

Immediately - I know Irene is already worn out - from being the sole person running the place. Didn't choose to take in a "partner". Needs to do this soon. Or, enlist the help of caring friends to watch the shop when she needs a break. She could set it up that it's open when the flag is out and leave at that. People would learn to call first. She needs a "rest" area - where she can sip a cup of tea, read and relax. She needs to look "less busy" and ease back to gain her strength back. She needs to slip out of the shop for a walk to "meet the neighbors".

"Social Media" is the best way to build a business in today's world. Use Facebook and Twitter to the "max". Use for events & classes. Build the numbers and ask friends to help! Avoid the people coming in to sell ads. Always put a card in a customer's hands. Do not let them leave w/o something "in hand". Use that guest book now! Take those names and do a regular email out to them.

I'll help and see what I can learn about marketing in 2012! Onward!

Friday, August 10, 2012


Summer 2012 has been challenging for this "Widder Lady". Storms have knocked down tree branches again. Last year one of the huge oak trees "out front" was hit hard. A huge branch broke from it's "center" and required heavy "cherry picking" equipment to be brought in. Drove in across neighbor's yard. Oh my! Twenty five hundred dollars later, the tree still stands and put out "extra" coverage to hid its wounds.

This year, more limbs have fallen from weaker trees. I pulled one limb to the driveway and gradually lopped off the small limbs and twigs. Then, I used one of the new pruning saws that came as part of my being a member of the National Home Gardening Club. It worked, but I had to watch my shoulder muscles and not "over-do". I pulled the bigger pieces over the driveway ledge and led them fall. I will take them to the back fence line to rot away.

More overhanging branches from old trees along the back fence line "gave way" to the weight of wild grape vines a few weeks ago. I lopped off some of the branches and pulled what bigger ones I could over to the fence line. There is still a pile of branches and debris waiting for me or "someone" to remove. The yard mowing guys mowed over part of the smaller branches. I figure if they go back and forth over them again and again, my "work" will be even easier. Just a week before they had been doing the annual clean-up, prunning the bushes by the side of the house down to "small shrub size" again. They had taken several truck loads of branches, leaves, weeds and yard debris away. It was wonderful to see "things looking good again".

As I write this, I can hear mowers running around the cottage. Wondering if I will get out in time to ask them to use the blower on the two cottage porches - saving me from another outside task. I'm also thinking about the water running into the old hot tub area and what I can do to clean it up.

The pool guys and I discussed possible solutions for this "problem area". This "hot tub" worked many years ago - at least 25 years ago. It was added on to the main pool as a triangular shaped spa area. There were "seats" and a plexiglass divider between it and the pool. It required a separate set of equipment - motor, bubbler, heater, strainer. It was expensive to run! Then, somehow it was ruined - and I think it was because I had a huge bolder put in as a "design element" into another triangle-shaped bed. I think it broke the pipes.

(Time for a break - go outside). Met with landscaper guy "chief" to discuss hot tub situation. We turned off the water that I was running through to clear it all up. Suggested some Clorox (may not do it - fumes).  He will call his cement guy for possible solution of filling it in with cement and "be done with it". Would give me a nice area to set the long outdoor lounge chair again. Used to set it down on the rocks, but it wasn't the best solution. Struggled with this "problem area" too long. It's time to solve it! Onward!