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 Meetup.com 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.