30 January 2010

Our Last 8 Days

Writing this post is a little surreal. Really? Our last 8 days? Really? I'm just now beginning to grasp that this next week will be the culmination of my boutique experience. And the culmination of THE BLISSFUL as a brick and mortar retail store. {If you're just now hearing the news, click here for the full scoop.} Four years. Several big and small trips to Market. Hundreds of boxes of merchandise. Thousands of customers. Many wonderful relationships with vendors, sales reps, other retailers, and industry writers and editors. All beloved memories. {And let's be honest, some stressful and anxious ones. Such is the stuff of small business ownership.} Being THE BLISSFUL's Proprietor has changed me as a person in ways I couldn't have anticipated. Changed me in big ways. I think I haven't even begun to see how big. It may take a while. What is so neat is that out of the store have been birthed so many new dreams and visions for things yet to come.

This past month since our announcement has been about winding down at the shop. There have been many, many hugs, some tears, and lots of well-wishes. Customers have been beyond gracious. No one wants to lose a boutique in their town. Especially when the owner is doing it because she needs a lifestyle change, not because the economy is forcing her to close. I can't explain how embraced my mom and I have felt over the past four years by people who have loved the store, and how overwhelmed I am by the sincerity of people's love for this store and their support for my future endeavors. To say 'thank you' just doesn't seem like enough.

THE BLISSFUL will be open for one more week.
Monday-Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM.
Also this Sunday the 31st from 12 Noon - 4 PM.

Our anticipated last day of business is Saturday, Feb. 6th.

Our Storewide Clearance is still moving briskly at 40% OFF regular price. There are still some amazing pieces left, like our iconic Zinc Painted Vintage Mantel...

Originally $650, NOW $390.

Dauphine Mirror, originally $325, NOW $195. {Disregard tag on mirror in photo--it was mis-tagged.}

Also waiting for you: interesting objets and accents, accent furniture, some larger furniture, baby items, bedding, apothecary, cards, jewelry and handbags, garden items, and an assortment of Sid Dickens tiles. The store changes hourly so I'm not posting too many photos. We've discontinued most shipping as our sell-through has been so quick {thanks, everyone!}, but if there's something you've seen on our blog that you've had your eye on and you live outside our local area, feel free to e-mail us at sales@theblissful.com because we just may be able to ship it.

Hope to see you soon, even if it's just so we can say that we hope our paths cross with yours again.

And behind the scenes, I'm stirring the batter of my next creative enterprises. To answer the question that many have asked me, YES, I will continue to blog here on Lettres from THE BLISSFUL, post-shop life. You betcha. As always, thanks for reading. And thanks for being one of THE BLISSFUL.


06 January 2010


Typewriter keys. A clue to Abby's life after THE BLISSFUL?

Gather 'round, friends, for a big announcement.

Four years ago, I opened THE BLISSFUL near my hometown of Canton, OH. I never dreamed I'd own a shop, but somehow the vision for it was always within me, and the store soon became the manifestation of that vision: a lush, eclectic, slightly funky venue overflowing with quality, Euro-styled goods. I wanted to create a different sort of place, a lifestyle store unlike any other in the Stark County area. Quickly, we knew we were on to something, my staff and I: you--our customers, fans, and friends--told us we'd created a place where you felt comfortable, inspired, and transported. You came to THE BLISSFUL for finds unlike those anywhere else in our area. You exuberantly shared the store with your friends and quickly made customers of them, too! You even compared THE BLISSFUL to boutiques in more metropolitan cities, such as New York, San Francisco, Savannah, and others abroad. We've felt enormous gratitude, awe, and appreciation for our customers, who allowed us to recreate the store anew for twelve seasons. That's why this announcement may come as a surprise.

As we recently celebrated our Fourth Anniversary in business, I've decided it's time to close THE BLISSFUL's doors. Yes, that's right: THE BLISSFUL will be closing early in 2010. This decision emerged after many months of thought, contemplation, weighing options, and prayer. The reason? Plainly stated, I--Abby--am ready for a lifestyle change. A reinvention. A new story on a fresh page. A shift.

Time for a shift.

The indie retail lifestyle is interesting, intense, sometimes magical, and absolutely all-consuming. And after four action-packed years, I am ready for a different pace. A slowdown. A chance to rediscover the introspective, writerly me who loves to hole herself up in a coffee shop for hours, writing and reading other writers and researching about what I'm writing. The former teacher me who loves to teach and is ready to reembrace that role in some form or another, if not in the classroom, then through some alternative venue.

Longing for creative white space...

I miss the private enterprises of my life before retail. I long to spend more time with friends. I don't want to miss out on precious time with my family, especially my almost-three-year-old niece who seems to mature by leaps and bounds every week. I am sorry to have to close the shop to reclaim all this, but I know it's what I must do. {You know how sometimes you just know what you need to do, even if it's not popular?} I entertained the notion of selling the shop and letting someone else come in and live their retail dream through what I started here--but couldn't come to peace with that idea. Instead, I'm choosing to close the shop rather than sell it because I want to keep and evolve THE BLISSFUL's brand over time--from its original incarnation as a lifestyle retail boutique to whatever beautiful possibilities may lie ahead.

It has been my extreme privilege and thrill to curate this shop in Jackson Township for customers from near and far to enjoy. We've been blessed with terrific, fun, funny, and gracious customers who've shopped with us locally in the store and throughout the U.S. and beyond via our Online Boutique. We've met so many wonderful people through our retail adventures--vendors, sales reps, industry writers and editors, other retailers, and bloggers--and we have them all to thank for allowing us to live this this one of a kind experience.

I owe my biggest thanks to my parents {especially my mom Debbie Kerr, my co-buyer and the store's inimitable stylist}...

My mom Debbie and me at the Atlanta Market, July 2009. Excuse the blurriness--this is a camera phone shot.

{continued} ...my handsome and amazingly patient boyfriend Matt, Matt's generous family, my beloved rockstar Shopgirls present and past, my talented graphic designer and web technician, and all of my dear friends.

Many customers have asked me what I'll be doing next. I plan to continue my beloved work as a retail consultant to other boutique owners around the country, helping them hone their own retail visions and take their store concept to the next level with a focus on brand ideation and buying for the niche. {I love building businesses, especially all of the branding elements. To me, helping people fine tune their dreams is sacred work.} Also, I'll continue my work as a ghost copywriter for other businesses' and individuals' website and print projects, delving into project after project and coming up with just the right words.

Then...there are a couple of fantastically big projects for which I'm currently in the dreaming and planning phases. Mustn't say too much yet...don't want to spook the muse...but I'll share details of those here when the time is right. And oh! I'm going to keep blogging here on Lettres from THE BLISSFUL, under the same moniker but with a whole new point of view and range of topics. I hope you'll keep reading along with me!

Thank you one and all for supporting the shop, for reading this blog, and for helping to make THE BLISSFUL a great place to shop and one of the greatest experiences of my life so far.

So we're holding a Store Closing Sale. Everything must go! Everything in the store is discounted 20% with 60% OFF Christmas. This includes not only terrific grab-it-and-go merchandise--from candles to kitchen items, apothecary to baby items, jewelry to bedding, women's apparel, linens, home d├ęcor, and everything in between-- but also lighting, fixtures, furniture, and props and oddities. Come out and get your last fix of THE BLISSFUL while it lasts. Out of towners, bring your trailers, as we are not shipping large or heavy items. For the first time ever, and only because we're closing, we're allowed to discount Sid Dickens Memory Blocks! Out-of-town Sid collectors, please e-mail a list of what you're searching for to sales@theblissful.com and we'll let you know if we still have them in stock. {Please note that we have no tiles that retired prior to December 2007.}

All sales are final. Absolutely no holds, returns, refunds, exchanges, or store credits. This is also the FINAL CALL FOR GIFT CARDS/STORE CREDITS. If you have any outstanding cards or have given any as gifts in the past year or two, now's the time to redeem those for merchandise. Please stop in by the end of January, as our sale will progress quickly and you'll want to shop our best selection.

For large or heavy items, customers must arrange their own pick up/delivery during our Shop Hours of Mon-Sat 10-5.
We do not offer delivery service or delivery service coordination. For your delivery person's reference, our shop phone number is 330.492.2500.

For Retailers... My retailer friends know that I'm notoriously mum about my sources. It's the one thing I never, ever share, as every savvy retailer knows that one's Vendor List is like gold. It's the bread and butter of the store and it takes much time, research, travel, sleuthing, and often expensive mistakes to get one's vendor mix right. For the first time ever, I'm selling my Preferred Vendor List for $1750. This is a list of hundreds of vendors with whom I've personally done business or that I've had firsthand experience with their product line and have secreted away in my files as perfect for THE BLISSFUL. The lines on the list that we've carried in the store have a successful sales record at THE BLISSFUL {no duds or disappointments} and have been key elements of our signature look, which we describe as "earthy European with a luxe, quirky edge." If you purchase the list, for an additional $250, I'll consult one-on-one with you about the vendors via phone or e-mail for up to 2 hours. I can share top sellers from specific lines, what customers are saying, and our experiences with how to get the best results from the line. The price for my list is a fraction of a trip to a major Market when travel, lodging, and meals are considered. My line is a tremendous resource and a great boon for: new and aspiring retailers who are trying to save themselves costly mistakes and who have yet to discover sources that fit their concept as well as they'd like and actually sell; seasoned and experienced retailers who want to reinvent or freshen up their mix and who connect with the style of THE BLISSFUL; retailers who don't attend Market yet must keep their shops full, fresh, and changing. I encourage anyone whose curiosity may be piqued to click back through the many, many archived posts on this blog and take a look at what I've found and what I'm now offering to you. If you've always wondered "where we find this stuff"--now you can find out, with vendor contact info to boot! Payment in full will be accepted through PayPal only and must clear before the list is released. All sales are final; no refunds or exchanges once the list has been released. If you're interested in purchasing my Vendor List, please e-mail me at abby@theblissful.com and request a PayPal invoice. The list will be ready to release mid-January.

Let the sales begin! And here's to prodigious shifts, changes of pace, reinvention, and renewal of all sorts.

Photos courtesy of Flickr.