We are lucky to live in a very proud state, especially when there is a program like GO TEXAN that makes it easy for independent retailers like myself find other Made In Texas products.
We have always carried only Texas foods – I mean why not – Texas has some of the best food in the country! We have found some fabulous items – such as the dips from Fredericksburg Farms (longhorn dip will make guy do anything!), the jalapeño peanut brittle and jalapeño gold for cream cheese is addictive (I’ve been stopped in parking lots asking if I have either in stock), and since I discovered Avocado Oil from Wimberley Valley Gourmet I hardly use Olive Oil anymore!
So, if you ever want some good Texas food products, just let me know! I can set you up!
When I opened Silver Barn 7 years ago I certainly wasn’t focused on opening another store. Heck, I just wanted to survive a gas crunch, a banking and housing crisis, 2 major elections, and a major drought!
Fast forward to 2014 and an opportunity comes along that is, well, now or never! Viola! Silver Barn gets a sibling – Silver Barn & Co. Why the “& Co.?” Because we have invited a few of our favorite people to bring their excellent taste and products to be the best we can be.
The challenges? Oh yeah baby! How do you remain consistent when one store sells one thing well and the other sells something different? Decorating two stores for Christmas is like the Groundhog Day movie – it is a new day of decorating every morning — over and over!
But where am I lucky? Two of the most beautiful locations in Columbus and La Grange, Texas house our stores; and the staffs at both stores keep me going and keep me sane! Thank you guys!! And, NO, I will not share their names!
We all have THOSE days. You know the ones where you should’ve stayed in bed with the covers over your head. For those of us in retail it can sometimes be a lost package that seems to be touring the U.S. when all it had to do was go 40 miles, a dock strike in LA meaning your Easter bunnies are being held hostage by sweaty men with placards, or a snow dump on the east coast keeping your new barware – on ice! OR, you can have one of those days where that ALL happens and you can’t do anything but wait for the next call with more good news.
Didn’t have to wait long. Semi-trailer driver thinks our address is, well, not our address. That’s a fun argument!
Whew! Ready for bed and it’s only 6:30!
When you’re in the mood, you’re in the mood. When you’re ready to paint and you don’t have the color you want – you invent. The invention of a new color is something I’ve never done. I feel so accomplished! Lol!!
So, now we took one super bright red and made a muted “blood plum”! Now I’m changing everything about this piece since I live the deep color. It’s sort of a Mardi Gras muted plum. It’s fun. It’s my first. Will I be as excited with my next? Hmm…
Whenever I come back from market, many of our customers ask, “What did you find?” Quite often I say the best things I found were “in the temps”. So, I thought I’d tell you about one discovery I made this year “IN THE TEMPS” which is the temporary showrooms. These guys don’t have fancy showrooms with numerous reps helping and food and wine all around. These guys are in a 10×10 booth crammed with merchandise and staff and hopefully customers. (I always feel bad when I walk by an empty booth, they look so lonely.)
This time “in the temps” I found a great new company called Knollwood Lane where there were all sorts of new and different items. From pillows to wall decor to a lazy susan out of an old tree to burb cloths featuring cute sayings. Basically, my kind of place. One stop shopping for all the areas of my two stores – Columbus and La Grange. And, their booth was packed! I love all of my traditional, showroom vendors and reps. They know me, know the store, know what we carry so they don’t try to sell me crystal and chrome chandeliers in a Tuscan-Lodge rustic environment. That is where the Temps can be a problem. And, through the years I’ve seen some Temp vendors we’ve found move up to showrooms and find great success. Nora Fleming and Mary Lake Thompson come to mind, and we’ve enjoyed watching and being a part of their growth.
But, there is something about finding that needle in a haystack that makes it all worth exploring the wonderful world of TEMPS. So, when you explore our stores you will find those hidden gems as well, and we hope you feel the way we do when we find something very special. That is our goal. That is why we are here. That is why shopping independent is so important. We all support independence and creativity in one form or another
For the last several years we have hosted a dinner at the Barn. We prepare the meal, some sort of activity and a discount on shopping. This dinner is a charity event for St. Anthony Catholic School donated as an auction item during their school carnival. In addition, we done another 10% of sales from the evening to the arts program at the school.
We all as independent retailers constantly ask customers to shop local, but what are you doing as a retailer to support local needs? We must be an active partner in our community if we expect the same from shoppers within the community. We are proud of our participation and get so much from it when kids tell us how much they do and learn in the art program at the school. We know we’ve helped in some small way to help them spread their wings and learn new things.
Don’t forget your customers and the community in which you both live. It does make a difference!
We all have people who inspire us. Some inspire our spiritual side. Some inspire us with their creativity and ability to believe in their dreams and trust they will find their way. We all hear about the people who are successful because they do what they love. To me, that is the “build it and they will come” mentality. NOTHING is that easy. I find it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to “do what we love.”
So, who inspires me? Well, I have a list of women who I have seen accomplish their dream, build successful businesses and still exhibit great humility and appreciation of employees and customers alike.
My first inspirational woman in the retail business is Frances Gravely of Vietri. What she and her sister accomplished with their mother is amazing. When they began over 25 years ago, they had a vision to bring back home to America a handcrafted dinnerware style that was not the norm at the time. Think the perfection of fine bone china vs. the imperfection of hand perfected dinnerware. Who would think something like that would work? Who would defy the odds and become one of the leading tabletop collections? Obviously, they did, and they worked hard for that “overnight success.”
Second, I find Conni Reed of Consuela. Those handbags just keep kicking butt! Why? Because Conni does not sit on her laurels and say, “why, yes, I created the most popular tote, bag, etc. and now I’ll sit back and enjoy.” No, she constantly “gets it” and keeps reaching for more. Like me, she spent years in the corporate world. It’s hard leaving a steady paycheck for a dream. But, dream she did and now she and her incredible staff (I’m partial, they are as cool and hip as her collection) just keep creating and inventing a new path in the handbag venue.
Last, but not least, is Beatriz Ball of Beatriz Ball. I so love this collection of tabletop serving pieces that I can’t imagine anything as magnificent in the industry today. And, she has created this from a vision, an idea, a passion and she still loves getting ideas and suggestions from her customers. I greatly admire her, even though she did tell me she has a love/hate relationship with neighborhood deer!
While these women represent what I think is the best of my industry, there are many other women who inspire me on a personal or spiritual level. But, I hope any young woman with a dream will look at these women and see they CAN achieve and can accomplish, at any age, what they were meant to do to live a complete life with no regrets. Enjoy your dreams, enjoy your accomplishments. I do every day and these women remind me I can do even more with my dreams.