How does one carry on?
These days, for me it means finding a quiet space within myself and staying there for a while. It means watching reruns of favorite series (Downton Abbey, Six Feet Under). It means reading to stay informed (Heather Cox Richardson is my go to gal) and then turning to my own life, putting one foot in front of another, doing all the things I need to do. Connecting with people through my work is an essential part of me staying sane. Real connection, not just a “how may I help you” but rather “how is your day going”, then really listening to your answer.
And of course the children. Looking into the eyes of each child, trying to really see them, while crafting with them, meeting them at a birthday party, or just plain talking–these encounters ground me but also expand my outlook, seeing this new generation that will carry on when my generation has gone.
Working with my hands helps me immeasurably too. I’ve been making needle felted dogs lately, working to increase my skills, and for the sheer fun of it too. Dogs bring me immense happiness, both the real and the felted kind. If only they could run the world!
On the business front it is challenging too. After almost nine years in business, people are still discovering us, figuring we must be new because we are new to them. And then the question “what is this place?” that I hear frequently–it seems we are not communicating the Heartfelt brand very effectively. Indeed, I heard a young person walking by say that we carry “a whole bunch of random sh*t”. And a young crafter even commented, “you carry a bit of everything”.
The retail landscape is tough these days, for players big and small, with store closings, sales below the previous year, and internet shopping firmly entrenched in most people’s lives. How can we stay relevant in this volatile marketplace?
||Our new Wood Crafts section.
My answer, at least for now, is to pare down and concentrate on our areas of strength: art and crafts supplies, beeswax candles and natural toys to bring home, and of course the crafts we offer. We are making shifts in the store layout to emphasize the making of things and putting together items to help shoppers see that they can make things at home too. It will be a work in progress for awhile, like everything.
And speaking of the internet, may I ask for your help? The consultant I hired to help us with SEO (search engine optimization) recommended that we ask our customers to write positive Google reviews–this will help Heartfelt rise in listings during online searches. If you are not sure how to do this, just google (!) “how to write a Google review” to see simple how-to instructions. Thank you for considering this.
Come see us soon!