|Shawn shows me the vacant storefront.|
In the beginning, there was me, Lily. I had spent my teen years and adulthood dabbling in holistic remedies and herbalism and finally attended an herb school in California in my thirties. I moved to Ohio in 2011 (and Columbus in 2012). Once settled in the Capitol City, I started helping friends one--on-one with small maladies and remedies. Never one to make a little of this or that, I made large batches of my remedies and found myself with a surplus of "leftovers". So I started selling online and started to attend a farmer's market (400 West Rich).
In the meantime, I decided to enter the healing profession full time. So I began to take a master's program traditional Chinese medicine (thinking that it complemented the western herbalism quite well). I also started delivering Boline orders to small independent retail establishments. One of those establishments, City Folks Farm Shop, asked me to teach classes and so I did. I got to know the proprietor better and became friends with her. It was shopkeeper Shawn of City Folks, who cajoled me into looking into renting the retail space next door to her shop. But I was skeptical. I did not think my little business was ready for such a step. I mean, I sold well at the farmer's markets- but to fill a whole shop? That seemed more than a little daunting.
|My first furniture.|
So I dreamed big- not just dried bulk herbs, but the majority of them grown right here in Ohio, supporting non-profit gardens and small family farms! Not just the same national lines everyone else carries, but a specialty place focusing on local artisans and healers! So I started reaching out to growers, producers and artists. And in my conversations, I heard about a way to make it happen:
|Starting to take shape|
with temporary furnishings.
And at the end of February, I got word that she was most likely approved, but no guarantees. But there was trouble on the horizon! The retail space that would be so perfect for my vision, the one that was affordable and next door to City Folks, was in demand suddenly! After being vacant for four months, there were a couple others that wanted it and unless I could come up with a deposit and sign a lease, I was going to lose it, even though my loan was so close to coming to pass.What's an herbalist with a vision to do? I started a crowdsourcing campaign. If I could raise the security deposit, I thought- I'll take the risk of signing a lease, even without the loan. (Gulp.) I crowdsourced enough for the deposit and a friend came forward with a short-term loan until the loan came through. This allowed me to put down the deposit and start work on the space, buying paint and hardware.
|Scrap lumber = steeping shelf!|
The first adventure in owning a store was painting and construction (not exactly an herbalist's forté). The store has been left an unfortunate pink and black combination that required lots of primer and paint. But eventually, the store became that signature green with brown trim.
As soon as I got the loan money, I hit the ground running, buying starting inventory, furnishings, and packaging. As it arrived, I was able to make more products. As I worked in the store, I invited more and more artisans to put their wares in the store. It started getting fuller and fuller. So many people came forward to help in some way- donating furnishings, their labor and hours of toil, and their expertise to making the retail space possible. There is no possible way that I could have applied in January and launched in April without the blessings and help of so many. In more ways than one, this store is a community effort and is richer for the hands and minds of myriad folks from different parts of the community.
|The walls were my bane. |
Plaster over cinder block
means special tools and a lot
of sweat and tears to install
I am now in my second month of business. I still do the farmer's markets as promotion for the store and still supply small independent retail. But now I have a much bigger project to juggle. I hope to hire a part time staffer, get another day off a week, and eventually pay myself (hopefully by the end of the year). We shall see.
I am offering classes and workshops, tastings and events to bring folks in. So you should come in!
The story of the store continues every day. I am open for business and each week brings new exciting challenges and items in the door. Come by and see what is new and say hi!
|Eric, who helped install shelves.|
|Eric again! So helpful!|
|My first signage.|
|My first farm delivery!|
|Happy herbalists male things.|
|A seasonal offering of seedlings.|