I am the owner of a shoe shop.
It still sounds strange to my ears after more than two decades in the media. But last Friday, it really felt like I wasn’t a journo or a PR/Fundraising manager anymore but a real shoe shop owner!
Three deliveries arrived at The Shoe Garden, one expected and two unexpected and the back rooms were piled to the ceiling with boxes of all shapes and sizes, crammed with gorgeous shoes. At the same time, I had some lovely customers come in and purchase shoes, while an agent was patiently waiting so I could select shoes from their range for Winter 2013. Earlier, a small delivery of handmade necklaces had arrived as well as some lovely shoe clips – both still needing to be logged, labelled and (the best bit) put out on display.
Today it will be four months exactly since I opened.
It has been an amazing experience that sometimes still takes my breath away, usually when I unlock the front door and walk into “my” shop. I remain brimming with positivity and confidence that opening The Shoe Garden is the best decision I have ever made.
But there have been some reality checks along the way too.
Not long after I opened, I heard about an agent who was facing massive debt and went into bankruptcy. All the retailers who had ordered shoes through this agent for this summer had lost their deposits. I was almost one of them. It wasn’t particularly amazing foresight or talent that stopped me placing an order when I was buying my summer shoes back in February… I just decided I liked someone else’s shoes better.
Last week I was contacted by another agent who had a container filled with shoes valued at tens of thousands of dollars go missing in China; she thinks stolen. Fortunately she has already refunded my money, however she has nothing to sell – or make money from – this summer season. While I am missing a few shoes now that I thought would be part of my range, I am certainly not facing anything close to what this agent is facing.
And even before I opened, I was able to buy six pairs of gorgeous red boots only because a shoe shop owner down south had gone bankrupt.
So it is tough out there, that’s for sure.
Customers often ask me: “How are you going?” with looks of concern or “Please don’t go anywhere”. I even had one woman ring me up who had bought some shoes back in May to check that I was still open!
Despite all these reality checks, and a healthy respect and awareness of them, I believe in The Shoe Garden and remain truly excited and enamoured with my new life.
Just recently, I had to fill out my occupation on my tax return form. It was the first time since opening The Shoe Garden that I have had to state my occupation.
Annoyingly, there wasn’t enough room in the box to say: proud owner of a size 10+ women’s shoe shop!
I am not sure what my accountant would have thought….but I smiled anyway.