Has it gotten crazy enough for you yet?
Friends, I hope you’re all hanging in there, taking care of each other, staying optimistic, and most of all, staying healthy!
As a downtown business owner the coronavirus shutdown has really thrown me back on my heels. Who could have seen something like this coming? Even in our small town, blessed by being an oasis of simple living in a very complex world, even here, life has changed 100% basically overnight.
I’m, of course, used to my doors being open seven days a week — sometimes literally, as when the weather is great. My old timey tunes wafting down the street and locals and visitors alike stopping in for a stroll down memory lane to see our offerings makes every day a unique adventure in the shop. And with items in the booths of over 25 local vendors, there’s always so much to see!
Just writing about the shop makes it feels like it was ten years ago that we were last opened when in reality I’ve only been shut down for a couple of weeks.
But those weeks matter. And they matter in a way that’s more than meets the eye. Because in a very real way, the Staunton Antiques Center is a microbusiness incubator.
Oh, I don’t mean in the regular way you think of when you hear the term “microbusiness incubator.” We’re not a loan agency for small local businesses. We don’t offer business classes and formal business coaching. But we’re still a microbusiness incubator in our own way.
Why? And how?
Planting Seeds, Harvesting Crops
Well, plenty of folks, just like those 25 vendors I mentioned, want to start their own antiques or vintage (or handmade) retail shop but don’t want everything that comes with opening a shop all by themselves. Think of the rent, insurance, utilities, staffing, marketing, credit card processing, accountant, signage, business cards, and a host of hidden costs that come with being a one-man operation in a retail space by yourself.
But by joining the Staunton Antiques Center as a vendor, old hands at the antiques trade and newcomers alike can rent just a small space in the shop — anything from a few shelves for jewelry or a small glass case for precious items to much larger square footage for furnishings and large items — and let us take care of the rest.
We staff the front desk seven days a week, provide sales and fees reporting to the vendor along with their monthly sales check, collect and pay sales tax for everyone, supply the shop with retail needs like bags and receipt paper, clean and prepare the shop for customers, place the signs out front daily, and handle the marketing online, on Facebook, and in print.
This allows our vendors to try their wings, see how their product does, find out if they like retail and antiques without committing to a one-to-three-year lease or spending on and figuring out all the other business pieces.
Coming Together in Support of Local Business
So when we face a time like the COVID-19 threat my heart just goes out to each and every one of our vendors who is trying to make it financially — or supplement their income — with this little side hustle.
That’s why on Facebook right now, Monday-Friday, we’re posting two items of the day for you, our customers, to see and buy!
Reflecting a range of prices from low to high, styles from kitsch to classic, and items from practical to fanciful, our ITEMS OF THE DAY allow you to still access gifts, impulse buys, and more while also showing off the tremendous range of offerings always at the Staunton Antiques Center. It also means you can shop local for needs right now, and support our community, instead of turning to Amazon or the corporate online marketplace.
I think of my many vendors — Alice with her throwback 30s, 40s, and 50s housewares, Stephanie with Mid Century Modern, Kay with her vintage board games, Stuart with his local maps and Virginia books. I think of Bobbi Jo and her rustic country wares, Lindsay with her vintage fabric, Joshua with his vinyl records, and Paul with his finely restored 19th century furnishings. I think of Amy and Mel with their jewelry, Brix and his vintage fishing lures and turkey calls, Joe and his industrials, Melissa and her vintage clothes, Jonathan and his unique art pieces, and so many others with clock parts, art supplies, vintage art, geodes and stones, housewares, clothing, and more! (Each of these vendors carries more than just the speciality items I listed, but it’s their big passions that come to mind right now.)
So if you still have need for purchases, for birthdays and special occasions, or just because, or when you “just have to have” something we share on Facebook, know that your purchase will help these vendors and others at the Staunton Antiques Center who depend on sales each month.
Please keep in mind, too, that if there’s something else entirely that you’re looking for, please email me to inquire — we just might be able to find it for you!
You can purchase online and no physical contact need be made for this service — just online charges or cash drop off/curbside pick up. For the temporary ITEMS OF THE DAY and special request purchases we do curbside pick up on Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am-Noon or by appointment.
Stay well, stay strong, stay upbeat and we’ll see you soon!
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antiques Center