Monday, March 28, 2016

Afton? Where the hell is that? The History of {3:17}...

Summer 2012...What the hell were we about to get ourselves into? 

While teaching youth group at church, Ang meets who will soon become our roommate...Anna.  I had never met Anna before so she decided to come over, see the place, hang out, determine the level of craziness she was soon about to enter, you know...stuff like that.  2 of the things that she needed to figure out before moving in with us were 1.  How was the commute to and from work?  And...2. Would we be ok with her having these "Vintage Sales" out of our house?  Ummmm...what?  We had never heard of such a thing!  Do tell!  Well..."apparently" she had been doing these vintage sales with a group of friends for about 5 years.  They would do it out of someone's house, porch, barn, garage, etc.. a couple times a year, and wanted to know if we would be ok with her hosting it at our house.  "Sure!  Why not?  I might even do some stuff for the sale!"  Famous last words...

Dec. 2012
This shit's no joke!  There's mailing lists, email lists, postcards... I had no idea!

So the time comes and we start prepping for the sale, which basically means we have to move out of our house.  We take all of our furniture out and take all of our own décor of the walls because, you's perfectly normal to stage your entire house for a sale.  Right?  But yep...that happened.

The sale was great, people loved it, and we sold a TON of stuff!  We had no idea what we were doing but...we were hooked!  We ended up doing 2 more sales out of our house.  Each one a little busier and each one we got a little better.  We started figuring out what type of items sold best, we started getting better at finding stuff, and we started putting out better quality products.

The last sale we did out of our house, there was a line out the door an hour before we opened, both sides of the street were filled with cars as far as you could see, and we were selling inventory quicker than we could get it out.  It took us 3 months to put our house back together after that one and we realized..."Yeah...this isn't going to work anymore."

Carver Junk Company

I first met Brandy and Chad off a Craigslist posting of mine.  I had come across about a dozen massive old 15 pane warehouse windows from an old building in NE Mpls.  They came down to our wood finishing shop in Savage to pick up a couple for the shop  and by "a couple" I mean all of them).  I just so happened to be working on stuff for our upcoming sale out of our house when they stopped by.  They tried to buy pretty much everything I was working on at the time but I played hard to get...I made them come to our sale.  Anywho... shortly after our sale they had successfully convinced me to become a vendor with them.  This is how it pretty much went down...
Them:  " wanna come sell with us?"
Me:  "Yep."
And so it was born.  {3:17} at CJC.  (Has a ring to it doesn't it?)

We spent a little over a year with CJC and still remain good friends.  We met a lot of amazing vendors and learned a lot about the business from one of the best in the business.  We are forever grateful for the opportunity they gave us.  "You're my boy Blue!"

The PORCH & Atelier 

Somewhere along the line we thought it would be a good idea to add another shop to sell out of.  We were still selling with CJC and we had just opened our shop so, as any sane person would do, we decided to add even more to our plate.  Theresa had been following us since we started selling out of our house and we had been following The PORCH for as long as I can remember so we thought it would be a perfect fit!  We were only there for about 4 or 5 months.  We quickly realized that we had overextended ourselves and just couldn't put in the time that we needed to really be an asset to her, and sadly had to cut our time short with them.

Though our time with The PORCH was short lived, it was truly a blessing to be a part of such an amazing shop.  Theresa and her family are genuinely some of the nicest people you will ever meet!  We remain good friends and colleagues to this day and you have no doubt either seen her or her son, Adam, at one of our events.  We learned a lot from Theresa and we are grateful to have had the chance to work with her!

Afton?  Where the hell is that?

July, 2013.  It was Saturday afternoon and we took a little drive to look at houses.  We ended up in this small town, seemingly in the middle of nowhere... Afton.  We had just grabbed some ice cream at one of THE best ice cream shops around, Selma's, and on our way out of town we drove by this little red house that had a sign out front that said "For Lease, Commercial Only".  Now...up to this point we had never talked about opening up a storefront but... I whipped a U-turn and we decided to peek through the windows like a stalker.  I called our landlord as soon as we left and after about an hour on the phone with him...we had secured our place in Downtown Afton. what?  It was July 30th.  Labor day weekend was a month away and is pretty much our last and only chance to get some exposure before the boats come out of the water and Afton turns into a ghost town for the winter.  1 month.  1 month to re-paint the place, find vendors, stock it, stage it, advertise, etc...  Yea...we like to set lofty, somewhat unattainable goals for ourselves. all started to come together and vendors started to come on board.  I think partly because some of them were excited to be a part of a new shop in a new city, and partly because they wanted to see who the crazy people were that decided to go for it!  But... it all came together and we opened on time.  Side note:  While looking for pictures of our set up for opening weekend I quickly realized that "apparently" we didn't know how to take good pictures back then...

Lighting sucks, pictures are blurry... no bueno.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years later. In some ways...not a lot has changed.  We've been blessed with an amazing group of vendors and a pretty high retention rate.  A lot of the vendors that took a chance on us at the beginning have stayed with us and continue to take a chance on us through all our crazy ideas we come up with.

They continue to grow individually as vendors as we continue to grow as a shop.  They continue to amaze us every month with the new inventory they bring in and looks they create.  And in return...we try to get a little better at taking pics each week...

And...we still have THE best, most loyal, customers around!  Without you guys coming in every month...none of our crazy ideas are possible!  Thank you!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Color palettes...The method to the madness (April)

Starting in March we are introducing a new feature to "The Market" each month... color palettes.  Color palettes have been bouncing around in the back of my head for some time now.  The idea is simple... choose a different color palette each month consisting of 4-6 paint colors paired with specific wood tones and metal tones.  Actually pulling it all together... now that's a little more difficult. 

Let me break it down...

-We have 28 vendors bringing stuff in every month...17 of which bring in furniture and décor pieces.  That's 17 people, with 17 different styles, with 17 different "go to" colors/ looks that everyone likes to use. 
-In addition to that, we are set up in an 1850's 2 story house that has 10 rooms that all have walls in them that have to coordinate with the color palette. 
-Then we have seasonal considerations to take into account.  I mean, let's be can't have coral in your color palette during the middle of winter...that's just weird.  There is a time and a place for every color, and we have to find it. 
-Of course there's you...the customer.  I have to choose colors that "I think" you all would like and that I think would sell.
-And last but not least...the feel of the shop.  It's no secret that I like to keep a neutral palette.  It's our own personal style so of course I am naturally drawn to that, but I also think it just stages better.  Our shop has always been the neutral shop and I'm OK with that.  In fact...I like it!  So now, a shop that has always prided itself on staying more neutral is now introducing color and having to do so in a way that still maintains the overall feel we want, and have always tried to achieve as a shop. 

So basically... If you're going to introduce color palettes... don't fuck screw it up.  No pressure right?

Now the big question... why? 

About a year ago I first approached our vendors with this idea (we'll get to that in a bit).  I was in the shop staging the main room one night.  As vendors were bringing in new inventory that week I was already setting aside pieces in my mind that I was going to use in the main room.  The time came and I was setting up.  I started staging the window wall in the main room and it just wasn't coming together.  I had 6 different pieces of "white" furniture from 5 different vendors that didn't look good together.  The problem was that those 5 different vendors use 5 different brands of paint with 5 different "whites".  Separately, they were all phenomenal pieces... staged together it was a cluster fuck hot mess.  The different "whites" didn't work together at all.  They were just far enough off from each other that it just looked like a we decided to throw in the towel on that wall and say "screw it...good enough."  Some people might have just left it and been fine with it.  Some people may have moved some stuff around, re-staged it, and never thought twice about it again.  But for got me thinking.  If I was having that many problems staging 1 wall with a few different pieces...what about our customers?  What happens when they buy a few pieces from the shop only to get them home and find out that they just don't work together?  That's not ok...not to me.

The big presentation...

About a month after the "great staging debacle of 2015" I called a meeting with all our main furniture vendors.  I was set...I had some color palettes picked out, color chips cut and organized, poster boards made, etc...  I had this whole presentation worked out (Side note: I'm kind of a nerd).  I cooked up some food, got them hopped up on some wine, we go...time to present the idea.

Lets just didn't go over well.

I was met with blank stares which meant they were either paralyzed with a WTF type of confusion -or- they were daydreaming of ways to kill me in my sleep.  To be honest...I didn't blame them.  I wasn't ready yet.  It needed to be more thought out, more deliberate, more purposeful.  It needed to be the right time and it wasn't.  We weren't ready yet.

Why now?

Fast forward a year later.  We're in a pretty comfortable place as a shop.  Business is good.  We've had pretty consistent growth over the past couple years.  We've got a pretty solid customer base that continues to grow.  So why change?  Why fix it if it ain't broken?  Well... if you wait for it to's usually too late.  Comfortable is a scary place to be.  If you get too comfortable, you get complacent.  If you become complacent, you lose your edge.  You should always push to do more...push to be better.  One of the struggles has always been how to appeal to new customers as well as stay relevant to our return customers... our "regulars".  Once we get them in the do we keep them coming back when there are seemingly endless options for other vintage shops around town?  Well...sometimes you've got to shake it up a bit. 

So now I've had year to think about, plan it, fine tune it, revise it, throw it out, plan it again, and fine tune it some more.  We've got a group of vendors that I know can pull it off.  And... I started to see us getting a little too comfortable...a little too complacent.  Making the switch to "occasional" was kind of the little push that got the ball rolling on this again.  One of the things, the "rules", in the shop now that we are occasional is no furniture pieces can be in the shop more than 2 months.  Even then...not every piece that makes it through the first month without selling is guaranteed a spot at the table for a second month... we need to keep it looking fresh every month.  That was one of the hang ups in implementing the color palette before.  If we are constantly switching color palettes then we would constantly be repainting pieces that didn't sell.  But now, with the new format, if it doesn't needs to get pulled out or re-painted regardless.  So...if we want to implement the color palette is the time. does it work?   

Here's the deal.  We've got 4-6 paint colors we are working off of with each new color palette.  These are the 2 inspiration pics we were working off of for April... we kind of combined the best from both.

Side note:  Sherwin Williams has an amazing online tool that enables you to upload any photo into the program and it will generate a color palette for you in the closest possible crossover Sherwin Williams colors.  From there...we kind of adjust it to fit our needs/ wants for the month.

The SW 7757 Highly Reflective White and SW 7067Cityscape will be consistent through all the color palettes each month. 

That will make things a little easier for everyone.  That means that any furniture painted in those colors has a chance to make it through to next months try-outs. makes it a little easier on us since we are repainting the shop walls to coordinate with the color palette too!  Majority of the shop will be painted in the 2 main colors.  Then...we will have a feature wall in each room that will change each month to help pull together the color palette in that room.  Our 4 feature wall colors this month will be SW 7066 Gray Matters, SW 6471 Hazel, SW 9135 Whirlpool, and BM 20-2160 Provence Cream.

Not all rooms will be painted the same combo which will be kind of cool.  You're going to get a different look in each room.  In some rooms you might have darker furniture up against the lighter white, yellow, blue, or green wall.

And some rooms might have yellow or blue furniture and décor against different color backdrops...

And then there will be some white on white with color accents...

In addition to the paint colors, we have chosen silver metal tones to go with it...

And last but not least...light to medium wood tones.

And of course...we will have décor throughout that ties in the whole palette...

We're excited to share it all with you!  We will see you April 14th- 17th for "The Market"!