Shop-Keep, The End of a Season

Circumstances lined up perfectly, but not at all the way we assumed they would.

Once upon a time Joshua and I opened a store called Shop-Keep in the Village of West Greenville here in Upstate South Carolina. Adventure ensued! We started out selling our handmade wares with a healthy mix of vintage goods–furniture, clothing, jewelry, and other exciting trinkets. West Greenville is on the rise, but as of yet, businesses and residents are still working hard to get the word out that the area isn’t the classic “bad” neighborhood.

Joshua and I embarked on our journey in the Village as both residents (house-renters) and shop-keepers (commercial building-leasers). Full of hope and vision, we followed one logical step after the next, observing people’s shopping habits, learning from neighboring entrepreneurs, and getting involved in the local business association, bit by bit amending our trajectory as needs arose and momentum shifted. That’s the challenge for all new business owners, I think, and I’d say we’ve done pretty well–not getting so bogged down in our dream of what’s SUPPOSED to happen that we can’t grow into what IS happening, bringing a healthy dose of realism to our grand ideas.

We observed that shoppers weren’t really buying our vintage finds. They added to the atmosphere of the shop, but beyond being decor, they weren’t money-makers. So we stopped advertising them. I got bored with making pillows and bags, realizing I’m not a one-girl factory, churning out tens and fifties of the same items endlessly. So I shifted my focus to quilts, something I do not get bored with, and it turns out, that there’s a real audience for (as our experience with the Martha Stewart American Made contest, Art Prize, and being featured in various news articles and blogs have taught us).

And then somewhere along the way Joshua and I both realized I’ve always approached making things as more of a fine-art than a commodity. We enjoyed meeting new people in our publicly available brick-and-mortar space, but it was at odds with focusing on generating new content for said space. I needed a quieter atmosphere to focus in, a place to make things uninterrupted. Like an artist’s studio.

Around the same time we arrived at this conclusion, our shop landlord decided he wanted to put a restaurant in our building. AND WE BOUGHT A HOUSE. In the Village. Around the corner from our shop. Circumstances were lining up perfectly, and not at all the way we assumed they would. So we shifted again, gracefully I think.

Our one-year Shop-Keep experiment has been a total success. I am so pleased with the momentum we have enjoyed, the relationships we have built, the support we’ve had from friends and strangers, and the neighborhood we live and work in. I CANNOT WAIT to live in our new house! But we’ve got to renovate a few things first (cue HVAC installation). Now we’re not just house and commercial building-renters anymore, but we’re property OWNERS. We are more deeply invested in the Village of West Greenville than ever before. Joshua and I are looking forward to the future, as usual, but we’re also incredibly grateful for the moment we’re in.

So I want to say thank you, from Shop-Keep, for a wonderful experience in the Village and Greenville at large. We’ve closed the doors to this chapter with full hearts. I’m continuing down the path of quilting, trading under my own name, and couldn’t be happier to make my living doing what I love.

Please stay connected with our crafty ventures by following Joshua and me on our blogs, and @blankenship and @mrsblankenship on Twitter (his and hers) and Instagram (his and hers.)

We’re just getting started :)