Colleen B. accompanied me to THE STORE today and worked without stopping! She cleaned furniture and an entire box of goodies to be priced and put out on the floor. She helped me sort out a rather "vague" (at best) box of consignment pieces and ultimately helped me get it organized and ready to sell.
The day was calm to start but then stayed constant and busy until just after 5pm. A quick stop at Fleet Farm and I have the kids eating while I'm changing litter boxes, feeding Opey-Dopey, and trying to catch up on emails and phone messages.
Colleen B. will be coming to THE STORE on the SECOND SATURDAY OF EACH MONTH to help me get items cleaned and on the floor. If anyone is willing to join her, it would be a great help to Colleen! We open at 11am and the name of the game is keeping new items in front of our customers! Thanks, Colleen, for the commitment and the plan to help! MUCH, MUCH appreciated!!! ;D ;D ;D
The first wave of upgrades is completed and THE STORE is back to "normal" thanks to a very dedicated group of women!
Sherrie A. helped put the windows back in order and they look marvelous, Darlings!
Julie M. worked diligently at hanging pictures, helping move the monster cupboard, and doing whatever she was asked.
Colleen B. spent the ENTIRE afternoon vac'ing dust from floors, dishes, cupboards, shoes, and literally anything in her way! The woman is a devil with a vac in her hands!!!
Deb P. managed to put the wall hangings back in order and also get the first layer of wood chips, nails, sawdust piles, etc., out of our way with a loaned shop vac. I stayed out of her way, for sure!!!
Actually, THE STORE looks better now than it did before the construction! Everything is well laid out and very clean. I'm very pleased and so grateful! Had I been alone I would still be there working on the shelves up front!!
This crew came together and hauled lumber out of the basement and then boxes and boxes and MORE boxes of Christmas "stuff' out of the basement.
Trees were assembled and moved (as I changed my mind!!), decorated and positioned just right. Boxes and boxes of decorations were put out, priced, and placed just right. THE STORE is a Winter Wonderland! Santa is beaming in the front window and even the wrapped boxes from the 1950's are included in the setup!
THE STORE is cozy and inviting and full of Christmas surprises! Even big colorful decorations are hanging from the ceiling! You MUST see it!!!
GREAT job, crew! Good food, too, as usual! And happy spirits with willing hands. Thanks, Ladies!! Job exceptionally well done!!!
Santa Claus visited THE STORE today and gifted us a big, shining, brand new refrigerator for our beverages and food! Just think - milk at THE STORE! And lunchmeat that doesn't get slippery in 24 hours!!
Thank you, Santas Sherri and Don!!! How hugely generous and kind of you! This gift will "help the help" all year long!
Changes were made to begin THE STORE's sales floor planogram changes. We created the gallery area and formulated the area for the boutique, the kitchen, the den, and the dining area. We will be bringing The Dorm Room back and creating an actual library and Kid' Room complete with colorful floor mats. It will take a bit of effort and time but if we move like we did today, it will be a new layout by mid-January. Thanks to Santa's elf who stayed around and worked, worked, worked! And brought food, food, food!
Of course, we greeted and talked with our customers and wrapped and boxed and said "Merry Christmas" a few times! What a fund day!!!
But then we dug in, too . . .
We emptied a jewelry counter and moved it in preparation for the re-layout of the sales floor
The one jewelry counter that wasn't moved was emptied, cleaned, and then refilled - looking beautiful, by the way!
We moved an already empty display counter into the newly vacated spot in the jewelry area
We moved the two ancient cash registers in the basement to a storage space
We tagged about 60 items on the floor and put new items on the floor
We emptied, moved, and re-filled the big buffet in preparation for the new floor layout
And one of us cleaned about everything in sight!
Bridge M., Colleen B., Emily C and her Father, Lawrence, and Sue H. were troopers! I am THRILLED with how THE STORE is ready for the Christmas wrap-up and subsequent clearance and then the January floor changes and new dealers moving in.
Days like today rejuvenate me!! Thanks to the crew that worked so hard today! You are A W E S O M E ! ! ! !
Deb P. donated her day to THE STORE today and we rocked!!!
The boutique is created, the dining room is created, and we have a start on the kitchen area. The living room is created but still filled with Christmas items and we even vac'd the top layer of crud off the floor! What a help this woman is to me!!! Thank you, Deb! Very much!
Christmas items are now 50% off until we remove the Christmas from the floor on January 10th. Our inventory of Christmas items won't last long, so get there quickly! This is a great discount on some really great items!
I put out a cry for help and, of course, Bridget steps up. A quick phone call and Mary and Emily arrives, as well. And thank heavens for every single one who appeared!
Our trailer was unloaded and nothing damaged or broken. Even the monster case was inside without tragedy. More than anything, I was afraid that thing would slide or all on one of us! But, we managed well and worked so very well as a team!!! Thanks, Ladies!
I'll be in THE STORE the next couple of days sorting and storing. The basement is a new area - again thanks to Bridget for her dedication and hard work. We actually have storage space, bare floors, and 1,000's and 1,000's of hangers out of there!!! What an improvement in our landlord's building! And what a great storage/sorting area for us. Makes all the difference in the world!
This last load brought us a darling dresser with a round mirror, about 6 stereo systems, and a whole box of salt and pepper shakers. In addition, there are boxes of "surprises". We'll see what comes of it but right now, it is safely in THE STORE thanks to Bridget, Mary, and Emily.
Job well done, Ladies! Many thanks from the horses!!! ;D
Jim D'Angelo, our original professional photography who built our first calendars, our notecards, and was the photographer at The Gala when Wanda rode Dudely into that arena (remember that?), stopped in to see Lucy and catch up with me. It was so good to see him and get back in sync!
Then Julie M. appeared with paint chips in hand and we talked, regrouped, talked again, and then selected the colors for the walls, the trim, and the upper wall. We also selected a complimentary color for Bonita's Boutique. Classy colors. Warm colors. And clean colors!
Then just like clockwork, Jim R. from SignArt appeared to talk about the rack sign and the building sign for Bonita's Boutique. And guess what? We had the colors all ready for him!!
Through the door, then, came Sadie's Mama! Deb P. is still a little under the weather with that head cold she is fighting but it was so good to see her and hear a few Sadie stories. What a dog she is!! Always good for a laugh!
Then, to finish out the day, Jen's son Mike stopped in to touch bases on all the loose ends after the service for his Mother and to check on Lucy. His summation: "She's really at home here, isn't she?"
In addition, of course, we had customers and the usual business of the day. Whew!
PS - Have the Olympics on. One famous Russian skater has resigned due to back pain and another just crashed into the boards and the guy got up and is skating again!!! Amazing!
Believe it or not, we are about to embark on our first year anniversary - the month of April we will have been open ONE FULL YEAR!!
The year has given us new supporters, new Friends, and saved lives. Horses have been rescued and are being adopted because the doors to THE STORE are open. A prayer answered!
To prepare for the anniversary celebration, any time that anyone can spare will be greatly appreciated. The normal store hours are available for you since most of the projects involve getting the newly opened back of THE STORE organized, blue jeans hung, and signs created and placed. In addition, we have a bit of work yet in the back of THE STORE to load lumber for hauling away. If anyone is in need of firewood for bonfires, we've got it! Some of the lumber has nails in it but it is all dry, good lumber from previous projects in the building over the last 30+ years.
And, during the month of April, if anyone is willing to work on Saturdays with me, that would be a great gift. Last Saturday, had Jen, Reilly, and Brody not been at THE STORE, I would not have been able to talk with a family that is looking to accept two - yes, 2!!! - horses through us. And another lady who hugged me before she left and said she would come to meet big Handsome in person this summer. Your help could be greeting the customers, wrapping, or operating the register if you have been trained.
This is an exciting time - an anniversary and hopefully some warm sunshine!!!
Yesterday (Saturday) was a great day at THE STORE! About halfway through the day, I took a telephone call and it was Trish! She and Amanda were in Black River Falls and was it okay if they ran over to say hello? For sure, it was! "It would make my day!" I told Trish. We hung up and I went back to serving our guests.
A few minutes later I stopped dead still. Why would Trish and Amanda be in Black River Falls? Why would they want to drive over to see me? The only thing I could see was that either Gracie or RockMan had crossed over and they wanted to come and tell me in person. That's all I could come up with. And so I began to pace and look at the doors every three seconds. Wondering which one was it? RockMan was old, yes, and he had a heart murmur but a healthier horse I had never met. Gracie had her seizures but was still a sound little mare. Which one had decided it was time to move on? I was a nervous wreck and convinced that we had lost yet another one.
Trish appeared in the doorway after it seemed like days of waiting! I looked at her and asked, "Which one died?"
Trish broke into a smile and laughed! No one had died! They just wanted to say hello to me!
THANK YOU, LORD!
Hugs all around and then another round of hugs when I saw in their faces that truly no one had crossed. A short visit, time to briefly catch up, to hear a few Gracie and RockMan stories, and then they left to head all the way back to Madison.
Large amounts of relief flooded through me. The Old Married Couple was safe and in Trish's care. Two lovely people thought enough of us to drive another hour away from home to visit for a few minutes before driving all the way back home. Good friends are hard to find. And when you find them, they are priceless!
There was much accomplished today but more than anything, there was great company, some laughs, and hugs to make the day simply perfect!
Deb P. and Sherri A. were at THE STORE to help hang cuckoo clocks, hang Sidewalk Sale clothes, and listen and share horse stories. So much fun to be in the company of women who say things like, "Our kids (meaning our horses) do give us reason to worry about them, don't they?"
Today I met three special women - none knows the other ones but they all left a mark on me.
The first lady was in town for Parent's Weekend at Stout and she and her daughter stopped into our store. She signed our guest book and then we started talking. She is in her 50's and just began riding for the first time in her life. As she told me, her face absolutely lit up and her eyes filled with tears! She is feeling and experiencing the "magic" that we refer to when a large animal trusts you and goes out of its way to protect you. This woman now "gets it" and she hugged me with long, strong arms and whispered, "You are doing God's work," in my ear as we hugged. Now it was time for my eyes to fill.
About an hour later, a woman from the Twin Cities came in. She said she had wanted to stop in at THE STORE since she saw us on TV! I asked her if she received the Eau Claire stations and she said, "Heavens, no!". She sees us on Channel 4 WCCO out of The Cities! She said that every time we make the news in Eau Claire, Channel 4 picks up the story and runs it. She said, "We all know about Refuge Farms in The Cities!" I was pleased to hear that our good news of healing is making it into The Big City!
And than at 6pm or so, a lady returned to THE STORE that had originally stopped to talk with me yesterday. We talked of our lives and she told her story to me. Her losses had been great in the last year and she was standing in front of me explaining how she still felt blessed. When she left THE STORE yesterday, I was humbled and ashamed of myself. This woman had suffered and was still finding her joy. She was a great example to me.
Lo and behold, she appeared in THE STORE again this evening. I went to the door to greet her and I told her of her impact on me. "Odd", she said, "as I stopped in to tell you of the impact you had on me!" We both laughed and talked a bit more. Then she mentioned that she will be back in the area this July for her high school reunion. I asked which school and she said Spring Valley High School! Of all places!!!! A bit more conversation and here's what I found out: This woman grew up in the brown house that is across the road and 500 feet west of me! Yes, this woman grew up in Brian's house!!!
So, I will see this remarkable woman this July - when she is in Spring Valley for her reunion, when she is visiting Brian to walk through her childhood home, and when she is walking our barns with me!
Robyn F. made my day! and walked into THE STORE to help with whatever was on the list. Her hug was worth the entire day!!!
We hung a long awaited living room "hanging lamp" from the 70's, emptied the first booth for the carpet removal project, disassembled a sawdust desk for disposal, and ate a wonderful lunch together. Lucy commanded Robyn's lap during lunch and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together. Thank you, Robyn, for your company and, of course, those bottles of MD in the truck!
Busy most of the day today with Stout graduation this weekend. Parents from all over the country here to see their young one walk across the stage. Mother's teary eyed as they talk about how quickly the years have passed. Father's looking relieved as this one is spreading the wings of independence. Later this afternoon, I actually sat and talked with a five (5!!!) generation family of women! Now THAT was memorable!
I expect tomorrow to be busy so if anyone has the "itch" to be a retailer, your help would be wonderful!
This Friday, the 13th, is SummerDaze in downtown Menomonie. The Main Street right in front of THE STORE will be closed for a parade, bean toss competition, three-legged races, and other family events. We will have Gracie and RockMan in the corral directly in front of our windows and I'm sure we will draw a crowd!
This is a great publicity opp for THE FARM and a great chance to show off this little couple. If anyone is willing to support the event by working with Mary C. in THE STORE assisting our guests with their purchases or help me with the horses on the street, please post or email. Your support would be very much appreciated!