I have been a small business owner for just over 2 years now, and over the past two years I have learned exactly what it means to BE a small business owner. I have learned what it means to put every single ounce of being into an idea; to invest countless time & energy while possessing limited resources and even more limited capital. I’ve learned that daily life as a small business owner is a rounded mix of not just fear, struggle, and exhaustion, but also joy, laughter and constant optimism.
Over a year ago, I sketched out an idea of what the main room in Kenton Antiques would look like if I had the opportunity to remodel. As someone who works 7 days a week to keep the business active in what we can all agree is a crummy economy, I promptly stuffed the crudely drawn sketch (I never said I was an artist) in my “wishes and dreams” file, which resides just above the round file known as the trash can. There it sat until January of this year, when Jessie Burke, owner of Posies Cafe & President of the Kenton Business Association informed us that we had won the Venture Portland Economic Development Grant. I have known for a long time that I wanted to make a big change but have been mired in the process of scraping together loose change just to get by. I immediately decided that now was the time, and that none of the concerns I had (length of time closed, additional costs, limited funding, etc) were sufficient enough to just not go all in on this dream.
Personally, I love garages & basements. Every sale I go to, I always try to get into the garage or basement first – these are the spaces where items are sent to retire. They are also the spaces where the highest concentration of stories reside. From decades of rock collecting, to a secret box of photographs from the war, these spaces are rich with history. Beneath the dust and rust, there is a constant warm glow of a life once lived.
My vision has been to have an interactive space for us to engage with History. I am drawn to items that seem to tell their story in every layer of their surface. Everything that comes to my store has lived at least one, if not several former lives, and they come imbued with the story of not just where they came from, but of the people that owned and used them. I wanted a space to curate the History of items, to showcase their unique stories in a way that would allow people the joy I experience at discovering new meaning in an old item.
So, on February 1, 2012 I closed the doors to Kenton Antiques. Since I had never attempted a remodel of this magnitude, I was more than convinced I would be done in 9 days, with money in the bank, and I’d be able to reopen with a good night’s sleep under my belt. Just kidding!
In reality, this process involved roughly 20 continual 16+ hour days, a resourcefulness and creativity that I dare MacGyver to match, a metric ton of caffeine, the support and help of friends & family, many of whom are also small business owners in the Kenton area, and the refusal to give up the dream I’ve been poorly sketching for over a year. Some highlights:
My Dad was able to keep me on track (I’m all big picture and easily distracted and stuff) and motivated to keep going until the very end. He can also solve any problem with a bottle of Coke and Peanut M&Ms so the coolness factor alone was a huge inspiration. I would have given up too easily without him to tell me to shut up and get back to work- so thanks Pop, I really couldn’t have done it without you.
Please check out our Facebook page for the extended version of thank yous, as well as a complete album of remodel photos that will be added in the next day or two.
I reopen the doors Wednesday 2/22, and will be open every day until the end of the month. Stop by this Friday from 5pm-8pm for the official reopening party – aka when I finally get to relax and have a beer! I’d love to talk about what we accomplished, and some of the neat details that we uncovered. I’m also more than happy to talk about my plans for the space now that the remodel is complete, for now. ;P
Suffice it to say, I am incredibly proud of what I have been able to achieve in such a short amount of time. It could not have happened without the help and support of a lot of people. I am deeply indebted to the belief that this new space embodies all of the very best of small business ownership- community spirit & shared passion.
The Final Tally:
Estimated Budget: $1,000 / Actual Budget: ~$1,200 and some change
Estimated Time: 9 days / Actual Time: 21 days
Biggest Expense: Paint accounted for right around $520 of total spent. Insane. But also incredible to look around and see just how much we did with what was left of the budget. Yay for re-purposing items!
While I am completely exhausted, starving, ignoring bills and totally freaking out about how close we are to the 1st (the dreaded day of rent), I believe I made the right choice in going all in. I’ve been saying this will either make me or break me, but after everything I’ve learned over the past few weeks, I’m starting to realize that in making this dream a tangible reality, I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I was just a few insane weeks ago. Thanks again to everyone who has shared in this experience with me, and who believed in me and my small business enough to care about the changes we’ve accomplished. Can’t wait to see you here! I’ve tried to fill the space with some pretty special items that each have a story to share. Cheers!