I can’t believe it’s already March and in just one month, I celebrate my second anniversary since opening The Shoe Garden.
I have learned so much these past two years.
From the practical…
I understand now that I have to order more stock than what I actually want and can afford because there will always be shoes that don’t make it through the very long production process (approximately six to eight months from time of viewing the next season’s shoes to delivery in-store). You can sometimes lose up to 10% of an entire order. There can be a variety of reasons: some styles are made but don’t pass quality control; a particular leather might suddenly become unavailable; or a heel of a shoe might be considered unstable once it’s placed on a longer sized shoe for the first time. This once left huge gaps in my stock so now I order more of everything.
I’ve fallen in love with numbers. Eek, who would have thought that could be possible for a word-obsessed ex-journo!?! I can read a balance sheet, a profit and loss statement, a cash flow chart and am constantly monitoring my budget and targets. I love looking at my numbers precisely because they are “my” numbers and show the growth and success of The Shoe Garden.
I completely appreciate how inconsistent sizing is now, so whereas once I would have said, somewhat innocently: “Sorry, I don’t have your size anymore”, nowadays I say: “I don’t have that particular size but let’s try this one.” Let’s face it, we can be multiple shoe sizes, just like clothes. I’m bold now too with offering suggestions to my customers.
One of the best decisions I ever made was about something seemingly so simple. At the very last minute, I changed my mind and bought shelves to store my shoes that were on wheels. This proved to be incredibly fortunate as I am able to move these around with ease to cram much more stock into two small rooms out the back. It has made a huge difference to how much stock I can store, simply because my shelving can move.
To the unexpected…
I never realised how physically exhausting owning a shoe shop is. Every day, I think I do enough squats to make my personal trainer proud as I assist people to put on shoes or unpack boxes for them. When deliveries arrive, this unexpected exercise regime steps up a notch as I unpack huge cartons, carry many shoe boxes at once and lift them up to top shelves or down to bottom shelves. Seriously, I should have abs and a butt of steel by now!!! But, alas…
I am overjoyed when people ask me for my opinion. I didn’t realise they would! I love helping to find the perfect shoe with new outfits and steering people towards choices that they might not normally make. My opinion is valued which is very rewarding.
I’ve never had a personal Facebook page and still don’t but I absolutely love engaging with customers on The Shoe Garden Facebook page. It’s so much fun.
To the inspiring…
I feel truly, truly fortunate to have such amazing customers! I have met so many different women and men of all ages and backgrounds. They have often shared so much with me, often very personal, sometimes very sad. I have been called (with tongue in cheek) a “dealer” by two sisters who are “addicted” to my shoes, a new “best friend” and “a Godsend”, among other things, just in the past week alone. This is so inspiring to me!
Without exception, my female customers have always been so welcoming and considerate whenever I have had men in the shop looking for shoes that fit and that they love. Whether they are transgender or like to cross-dress or are wonderfully vivacious drag queens, everyone is welcome at The Shoe Garden and my customers agree. Yah to all of you!
I don’t think I ever, ever walk through the front door of The Shoe Garden without smiling and thinking: wow, look at what I have created. I am so happy.
Thanks for being such a big part of the first two years of my grand, unexpected, inspiring, amazing and evolving adventure. There is still so much more to come!
Carol & CC