This blog is something different for me. Generally I write about what's going on in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, often writing about either an entrepreneurship program or research from Babson College. Today it's personal. This week was moving time for Artworks in Gettysburg, Pa. My cousins and I have owned Artworks for just over a year and we've outgrown our space -- which is the good news. Also good news is the fact that our retail neighbors right next door are moving one door down, which leaves their larger space open. This domino effect works for us.
Getting ready for the move meant going through everything. Even if it had been only a year, there were things that just shouldn't go with us. We pay very close attention to what sells and what doesn't, and yet we still were going to carry across the very colorfully painted and bedazzled wooden crosses. We're not even sure where they came from as they came with the store -- but they are certainly still here. This is the part where the process map we use in the 10,000 Small Businesses program would be a useful tool.
Our plan was to only be closed for two weekdays and to be able to do the move ourselves. Please understand that "by ourselves" includes our children, spouses, siblings, parents, employees and even an employee's spouse and friends. "Will work for beer" has true meaning for this move. While the store team had been preparing all things behind the scenes things for days, we wanted to try and move excess inventory first and then do a fast and furious move with the goods on the store floor.
First challenge: The cellar of the new space where we needed to store the inventory isn't quite ready yet. We decided to see if we could help speed up the process by cleaning the floor and the shelves. This is the cellar of a Civil War-era building. While I'm sure it had been cleaned since the war, it didn't much feel like it. This remains a work in progress with an abundance of ideas from every person on the team. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to just keep going.
Location, location, location has been a mainstay of retail logic for eons. While the definition of location has grown from a mere physical presence, it still means a lot. Gettysburg, Pa., was just named to the top spot in Smithsonian Magazine's "The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013" and 2013 is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. This is actually one of the reasons our domino effect is going to have a fantastic effect on our block. We will now be just a bit down from the historical circle -- we'll start with Gallery 30 (and thank you for the welcome pizza for lunch today), then Artworks, followed by The Union Drummer Boy (moving into our old space, which turns out to be their old space as well -- it's a small town) and then a miniatures store that will be arriving soon. Great, great placement for us. On a side note on location, using social media to track our move also worked really well. That virtual location came in handy.
Everyone did have a job. I tend to have to work around the edges because I am least familiar with our goods. My mother moved jewelry and that made her happy. One of my cousins (co-owner) was the conductor, directing everyone as to where to put things. One of the most amazing things about the day was that most of us are used to being the director in the other areas of our lives. For this event, as family business owners, we were able to put it away, step back, and do what we were told. After all, we all knew that there was pizza waiting for those who helped. More seriously and importantly, we knew that everyone leading would not be a good thing and the right person was in charge.
Then came our Erik Estrada moment. There is a type of celebrity watch that goes on in retail areas. I'm guessing it's even more so in certain types of tourist areas, like historic downtown Gettysburg. Once someone is spotted, the phone chain starts. The call came Day One while we were in the basement, Erik Estrada is on the street. My cousin Sherry marched right across the street, stuck out her hand and said, "Sherry Grim, damn glad to meet you." Estrada gave her a huge smile, put his arm around her and said, "Take a picture, this is a damn glad to meet me fan." We watched him smiling and chatting with people all the way down the street. Just made you smile. And during moving days, that's a good thing.
Lessons learned from moving day:
• Use the prep process as the opportunity to review all your inventory -- what should stay, what should not. It's like spring cleaning on steroids.
• Stay open to suggestions -- and absolutely everyone will have them. However, know your plan. It's your vision, and while you can be adaptable, the new space has to advance your vision.
• Location, location, location (heard that one before?). We moved even closer to the historic center.
• Give everyone their job and then feed them.
• Erik Estrada makes everyone smile. Find something to make your team smile.
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