“Why isn’t there just a place where all these mom’s can take their stuff and sell it?"
That was the question rolling around in my brain each time I would meet a mom off that Facebook group to do the meet-up, drop-off, cash exchange. People always say, want to start a business? Solve a problem. Well to me, that whole ordeal was a problem. I had to believe it was a problem for a bunch of other people too, whether they were the buyer or the seller.
Then I discovered Patty’s Place.
I didn’t immediately think of opening a shop. And it didn’t immediately occur to me that it would ultimately be part of the solution to the above problem. There was no Plume in my head at that time. But I walked inside and fell in love. It was filled with 75% junk and 25% treasure, and I loved it. (you can click here to see some pics of the inside and like everyone else who saw it at the time you will likely think I’d lost my mind).
I kept coming back and walking through and every time I did I would be rearranging everything in my mind. Move this here, put that there, trash this…etc. etc. There was something in there I could see. Not in what I was physically seeing, but in what I thought it could become. When I looked at Patty’s card I could see her vision too, even though she was having a hard time executing it.
I’ve been told at one time Patty’s Place had been kind of hoppin’. I think by 2013 she had been open for about 7 years. People would come in for coffee and pastries. The work of artists was on display and for sale. But life had happened, Patty got breast cancer and at some point she became overwhelmed and lost her passion. Patty’s Place had become a glorified storage unit for all Patty’s vintage clothes and treasures.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m kind of “fixer”. And remember, at this point, I’m thinking about taking on a part-time job possibly when the kids started school. How convenient that this little place was just a 1/2 mile from their school. I wondered if Patty would like some part-time help jazzing the place up a bit.
The more I came, the more I edited and re-arranged in my mind the more I knew that if I put all that heart into it, I would want it to be mine. And that was the tiniest beginnings of thoughts about what it might look like to open my own shop.
I started talking to Patty and her son Mike (now my landlord) about what Patty’s plans were for the shop and it turns out, she was relieved and ready to move on to other things. My next thought was what on earth I would fill this shop up with once I had cleared out the 75% junk. I had no money for inventory and even if I did, I had no idea how to navigate Market. And I had a vision of something different than filling up the shop with mass-produced wares.
I had been pretty successful in my “past life” selling other people’s stuff in Corporate America. I was pretty sure I could sell some handmade and vintage goodies.
I went back to that Facebook Group and posted this.
I originally wanted to specifically reach out to stay at home moms. The Facebook Group I’d been purchasing things from and that I posted this to was called COMO Mom’s Create. It’s still active today, to my knowledge. It was filled with women who were mostly home with their babies but were creative and wanted to sell their creations to generate supplemental income for their families.
I remember hosting an open house sometime in October to interview and sign on interested vendors. The day I finally opened Plume, November 1, 2013 I had 27 vendors. A mix of makers and vintage “pickers”. Many were friends but some I had never met prior to that open house. Each of them walked in the door and handed me their things with nothing more in return than a promise from me that I would pay them when I sold it.
You have no idea how incredibly grateful I remain for those 27 vendors who took a chance on me. Some of them are still with me today almost 4 years later. Now I have about 65 active makers and vintage connoisseurs, although there have easily been closer to 200 who’ve been affiliated with Plume to some extent throughout the last 4 years. I work with not only moms, but women of all ages…students, grandmas,women without children…and even a few men here and there.
Tomorrow, I’m starting a new series called “Maker Monday’s” and I’ll be sharing the stories of these sweet people each week.
I hope you’ll tune in.
p.s That picture you see at the top of me on the little vintage school desk was taken right before I opened Plume by my friend and photographer Lana from Art & Soul Photography. It was one of Patty’s treasures and I just this week finally SOLD it. It’s been sitting in my shop for the last 3 1/2 years. I’ve loved it. Used it for display. Moved it all over. It’s had a price tag on it but I really wasn’t super motivated to sell it. On this day when the picture was taken I was sitting in the grass in front of Plume daydreaming about all that was to come. I have to admit, as soon as that desk left the shop…I started having sellers remorse. I’ve become attached to some of those original things that I found in when I first walked into Patty’s Place. But I’m happy to say it’s going into a classroom for a sweet young girl who will start her first year of teaching. And that makes me happy. I gladly pass it on.