4 days ago
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Hard times are Coming....are you the Ant or the Grasshopper?
I live in Florida. The economy is bad here. My family feels it. Most people I know are feeling it. Of course, your little pocket of the world might not be feeling it as acutely. Better yet...perhaps you have been preparing for it. That is, you might be the Ant to my Grasshopper. Remember that? One of Aesop's fables. I like the cartoon version from 1934. The grasshopper was playing and frolicking throughout the spring and summer while the ants dutifully prepared for the coming winter. It has been my tendency to play the Grasshopper in that scenario. I was never a saver. I was always a consumer. A rabid, frenzied, "gotta have it" kind of consumer. Shopping is something that I did for sport. I hardly even know that person any more and thank God for it. I have scaled back. Doing more with what I have on hand. Enjoying the process of creating more than the process of consuming. Several years ago I had a pivot point in my life. I had too much debt with too little income--in business and at home. I had some serious decisions to make and I made them. It was not pretty. It was not fun. Yet...after a lifetime of overspending, I finally "got it." I had to stick to an austerity budget to make headway with the debt and although it hasn't been easy, it has been joyful. It is good to feel in control of your life. If you are not a shopper, substitute your own personal secret vice and imagine the delight in kicking it.
The deal is....I honestly (and PAINFULLY) looked in the mirror to examine what I had done to bring me to the bed I was so uncomfortable laying in. I did not blame my partner, my husband, my customers, or my accountant. I don't control them, I only control me. I was brave enough to own my personal dysfunction, figure out what I had done to contribute to the mess and make it better. Cool, huh? It isn't perfect....I still have some debt and income is down, but it is better. I am in control. I have power. ROAR!
The glory of "getting it" three years ago is that I have had some practice to prepare me for what is coming our way. Hard times are knocking at the door, folks.
We had dinner with some friends recently. They are good people and we have known them and loved them for years.. They are like me...Flawed, happy, solid people fighting the good fight and trying to keep it all together. Like many Americans, they lived right to the edge of their means. The husband is an incredibly hard worker. They have a small family business that has afforded them a luxury lake front home and nice vehicles. Unfortunately, their house is in foreclosure. The husband is depressed, the wife is trying to keep him glued together. She finds herself spending money they do not have because shopping is what she does to calm her nerves. She isn't spending much money at all...a nail polish here, a $10 shirt there. No, it is not much, compared to what she was spending when times were flush, but it is more than they can afford. The business income has slowed to a trickle. The are in the dental industry and sell what for many is now a luxury, not a necessity. Tactics that worked before to bring in new business are not working now. They are eating a lot of cereal for dinner because that is what they can afford. The husband is feeling hopeless. Hard times are coming.
I see it in my neighborhood. Lots of "for sale" signs are now dotting the lawns in my community. My favorite restaurant is always half empty and the owner's fear is showing. There are more empty stores in the strip center down the street. Times are tough. I get it---I am living it, too.
My husband is in a state of flux....in 2009 he sold his interest in his business. He has 7 months remaining on his Non-Compete Agreement. He has to stay out of the only industry that he knows until November. We have lived through this sort of thing several times in our marriage. Nonetheless, it is always a bit scary and unsettling. We watch the bank balance go down, while we figure out WHAT COMES NEXT. We have never done it while facing such a grim economy and don't want to sit around and wait. So....after much deliberation we bought a business in an unfamiliar industry because we are determined to BE THE ANT.
We cannot control the economic tsunami heading our way...it is coming whether we want it or not. We are going to live though it either way so I am going to do everything in my power to keep my family safe, happy, and secure. We can come through it new and improved or we can come through it broken. How about you? Are you doing what it takes --in business and in your personal life--to BE THE ANT?
Alada Beads is one Crafty Retail Superstar who is all about BEING THE ANT. This woman never stops and she has the success to prove it. Her bead store is in Michigan. The economy there is even worse than the economy in my home state. Yet, Debbie's store is thriving. She is totally self supporting and cannot afford a failure, so she makes sure that she doesn't have one. Is it easy? Hell, no! Is it rewarding? Absolutely.
Debbie told me that she is the Queen of the Gimic and cannot imagine how she would get the rent paid if she was not so focused on promotional events. She has events going on ALL OF THE TIME. The photo at left came from PET-A-PALOOZA where customers were invited to bring their four legged pals into the shop for a photo session. the photos were "shrunk to size" and used to create one of a kind charm bracelets for the doting owners.
Next week she is offering Mom-a-Palooza in honor of the Crafty Moms that support her business. There will be a number of Make and Take tables set up with special projects so that kids can make a present for Mom while she makes something a bit more sophisticated for herself. The photographer will be back in business so that photo charm bracelets and pins can be created for Grandma!
So, get busy....there is work to be done!
IN OTHER NEWS:
NEW FIBER CHALLENGE!
Finally, a fiber challenge for all of you "jewelry challenged" readers! We have enough product to send out 12 kits as pictured below--for FREE--for the first 12 volunteers! Kit includes a huge Swarovski hot fix transfer (apply to fiber with an iron), some Swarovski yarn, and assorted crystal and seed bead embellishment. Show us what you can do!
Think outside the box! A purse? A jean jacket? A journal cover?