Hello! Welcome to episode 69 of I’d Rather Stay In. This week, we are talking with Tahnee Lathrop of Retrofit Culture about what it’s like to run a brick-and-mortar small business, particularly during the last year.
Welcome to I’d rather stay in with your hosts Megan Myers and Stephie Predmore. This week we’re chatting about small business ownership with our guest Tahnee Lathrop. Stay tuned.
Hello, hello Stephie
How’s it going? Megan?
snowing, which is fine.
It’s really the end of April.
I know I have. It’s been snowing on my birthday before, so it’s fine. We’ll see what happens in three weeks.
I’m hoping this is the last show of the year.
I think so I think it will be.
I mean, it hasn’t like stuck. So although it did start coming down at more of a clip a little bit ago, but yeah, it was not like my favorite thing to wake up to.
you know, I know your dog was delighted, but I think she was the only one.
She was delighted this morning. And I think she’s over it now. So
paws are wet. This is stupid.
I don’t think she minds her paws being wet, but she doesn’t like her back getting wet. That’s why she doesn’t like the rain. She doesn’t like rain, but she loves snow. Um, but the other thing I actually wanted to talk about was this thing I found out last week through the magic of the Internet, and I shared with you but I wanted to share with our readers or listeners, readers.
I’m so used to blogging
because it blew my mind a little. And that is that the Tyrannosaurus rex is closer to us in the timeline than the Stegosaurus.
I was not okay with this tidbit. Right. Like it kind of freaked me out.
Um, yeah. Yeah. Especially if you start to think about like, for First of all, how long ago that was. It’s
a really good time.
But also all of pop culture has lied to us.
Your cat doesn’t like it either.
He does not.
He’s outraged. He does not want to be closer to a Tyrannosaurus Rex now.
Well, I saw it online. And I was immediately like, I need to look that up. It’s sending you down the rabbit hole didn’t Oh, I mean, that is no super big rabbit hole. But I had to look it up to make sure it was true. Well, yes. And it is true. Because the Stegosaurus was during the Jurassic period, which is between I 156 and 144 million years ago. Which means that it was extinct for about 80 million years before Tyrannosaurus Rex even showed up. And like,
I gotta be honest, I don’t think that hard about dinosaurs. I was never really interested in them. And I just I have a lot of questions about our study of dinosaurs anyway. How do we know what they don’t anyway? Doesn’t matter. Um, and how do we know what they sounded like? Anyway, it really doesn’t matter. Okay, anyway. I just, I don’t know, I just kind of thought that they just all sort of like coexisted. And I just I and that didn’t really occur to me that they were spaced out that over that long of a period of time, I clearly Yeah, ever took any sort of like paleontology, archaeology, I don’t any of that crap. I
never took any of it. So I mean, I think I remember in, you know, at some point in high school or something, we had to take earth science or something of that nature, where you kind of like learn the periods of time.
Yeah, I probably forgot immediately,
right? You learn about like, the Jurassic period and the Cretaceous period, and whatever the other periods are. But also, I have read and watched Jurassic Park and Fantasia, a
Land Before Time,
right? And they all coexist there. So obviously, I thought that those were documentaries and telling me the truth about dinosaurs. So luckily, I know, I’m still processing this information, you guys and you can. You can make as much fun of me as you want for my lack of dinosaur knowledge and just assume that if it was in Jurassic Park and Land Before Time, it happened.
Well, that makes me just questionable. I mean, I know dress Park is a movie slash book. But now I’m like, did the dinosaurs what I mean I know that he did research because Michael Cretney write science books, but also like, if they existed so far apart from each other in the timeline of the universe, then how they’re bringing them back to Jurassic Park. How would they be able to live together on the island? When they literally existed millions of years apart? Like they would not, it doesn’t seem possible, biologically, aside from the fact that you’re bringing dinosaurs back from Frozen, Amber and crested mosquito,
aside from the fact that Jurassic Park was a huge issue, like it was just a really bad idea that did not pan out well to begin with, so
and they kept doing it like a million times, it’s fine. Um, I just have like, some fundamental questions about that. I have no fun to like watch movies with.
Unless you’re watching movies with someone like me, who also finds these discussions interesting, because this is why you guys this is maybe why no one else was saying out with us. This is why our husbands don’t like us that much. Women that just like hanging out watching movies, so like, she stopped talking?
Yeah, look, we’re trying to watch this. Uh, well, a few weeks ago, we were talking about what I should watch on TV. And so you had suggested, I think maybe I don’t you suggested on the episode, or maybe it texts later, but he suggested that I rewatch last. And so I’ve been rewatching lost. And my biggest problem up to date with where I am and watching last is that, at one point in the show, they find a nice cave, where it has like a nice freshwater stream and like a waterfall situation, and it’s protected. And so a bunch of them go live there. And also, that’s their source of fresh water. And then in the next season, like they all just have abandoned it, they left the cave for like no reason that they ever expected.
Other than that, they realize that they have solved too many problems. By having that cave exist in the first place. It’s sort of like it’s sort of like in Harry Potter when she created the time Turner’s and then realize that that was really a huge mistake. And so then she had to destroy them. And she who will not be named, had to destroy them in the fifth book.
So you know, sometimes just got to ignore the things that you created, because that would solve a lot of problems. And we need more problems in last Apparently,
they really did not need more problem, I would think like having a water source would be like, it was a big problem in first season. And so then they solved it. And then And then third season, they’re like back to just getting water out of the rain collection thing. Sure, without any explanation. And I’m like, oh,
Honestly, if you guys are like this, please let us know. Because we know that you’re out there. Honestly. You’re listening to us and you’ve been listening to us for a long time. You’re probably a lot like us. So it’s please let us know that you’re out there.
Let’s talk about last it ended like 15 years ago.
I was like shocked about it.
It hasn’t been that long, but it was a while ago.
It was a while ago. Well though you did have a lot to say about it on our TV episode. So
I do still really like it. But it there’s a lot of problems. Just like apparently this dinosaur situation related dinosaur situation.
We’ll we’ll check back in with you later and see how your last viewing is going. And if you have any other big, big bones to pick with it.
I will but we do not have time for that
we do not
has anything been going on for you.
Exactly nothing. Just you know, living my life. Watching it snowed today. That’s pretty much it. It’s a it’s a it’s a low key life around here. Although Oh,
oh no, that’s a lie.
I went to sometimes I forget things that I’ve done. Even though I’ve done so few things over the last year. I went to a glassblowing class on Saturday. And that was really fun.
Did you get to put the glass in the glory hole? That is the only thing I know about glassblowing
Yeah, it was pretty cool. So there is in Peoria which is not too far from where we live. There was an all female run glassblowing studio, which is really neat because there’s not a lot of females in that area of like the art world and they have Like their shop or whatever, and then they have classes they do they actually have a class that they are getting ready to start called warm yoga and hot glass, or you do yoga, and then you do glassblowing, which I was like, I would totally do that. Um, but yeah, they have like, different, you know, they have like, different projects or whatever that you can make in these classes, but they like kind of walk you through it, and they talk to you about like, they there’s only like, two things that they use in the studio, that they are have not been used for hundreds and hundreds of years in glassblowing, like, all the rest, because they have like an electric glass thingamajigger I don’t know what the right word is, um, and like that. And like one other thing or the only like, a modern updates that they use, the rest is exactly the way it’s been for like, hundreds of years. And they like talk you through it. And then you they kind of walk you through it step by step, and like you get to do actually, it was like a little It was a lot more hands on than I thought it was gonna be. Because obviously, like, you have to know what you’re doing. The glass is 1200 degrees. So it’s not something that you want to like fuck around with, but they were like really good at extracting you like, where to stand it like colored squares on the floor. So they’d be like, Go stand on the blue square for this or whatever. But yeah, like actually got to do like a lot more than I thought I would with it. So it was really cool. So I haven’t got my project back yet it had, it has to cool for like 24 hours, but I think my mother in law is going to go pick it up this weekend. But yeah, I made a little bowl. So
what did you I would be worried about like, dropping whatever it was that I was trying to make. A
No. So like, there definitely are like very, like, they’re right there with you helping you. Like they definitely said, like, we’re gonna have to breach the six foot like social distancing thing here, we’re gonna have to be like, kind of shoulder to shoulder with you. And so like they, and they can kind of tell they’ve been doing this for a long time. So I think they can kind of tell if you’re like struggling or whatever, if you need help like that. But the biggest thing that they like pointed out was like you kind of you have to keep the light pole that it’s on whatever, like spinning because the glass is so hot. Like if you don’t like keep it moving. Like obviously gravity will just like move, pull it down or whatever. Right? But they kind of felt like they could kind of they were kind of watching and could kind of guide you if they were like, Oh, you need to like go, oh, let’s hear Let’s help you out or whatever. Because I was like, Oh no, I’m gonna be that person that is just going to like, move. But
I was nice.
They actually were like, Oh, look at this. You’re like they were very impressed with the dis dexterity of my like spinning the pole. thingamajigger. And they were like, Oh, are you a nurse? And I was like, No, and they’re like, nurses are usually really good at this. I was like, I crochet. And they’re like, Oh, that’s
that’s a weird thing.
I know. I was like, Oh, well, apparently I could have been a great glassblower if I had just only known. Anyway, so that was that was that was it but it was really cool to go check out. I had not been there before my my mother in law had been there. She had done a class there before, but I had not been over there. So it was a new to me local business that I got to check out, which was awesome.
That’s really cool.
Speaking of local businesses, yes. Nice. Transition right into our topic this week. We know that owning a business is hard. And there’s no doubt about the fact that COVID has made it even harder. You and I do our best to support local shops, but we don’t really know all what goes on to keep those places going.
And we have a one of our favorite local shops here in Bloomington. It’s called retrofit culture. And so to kind of talk about some of all of the things that go into owning a business, particularly in the last year, we have invited the owner Tahnee Lathrop to chat all about this. Welcome to the pod Tahnee
Hey, thank you so much for having me, you guys.
Thanks for joining us. Why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself? Okay,
so my name is Tahnee Lathrop, my business is called retrofit culture. It’s on the west side of Bloomington. We’ve been in this location for about five and a half years and then we were in another location for two years before that. And our shop is really interesting. It’s very eclectic. So we have a, I would say most of our stuff falls into like gifts. But some of our things are handmade. Some of them are vintage, and some of them are new, like newly produced goods. So that’s kind of introducing you to The business to myself, I’m 40, I turned 40. During the pandemic, I have a little two year old girl, and my husband and myself and her love above the store. So I’m probably different than a lot of other small businesses, our lives are very entangled with our small business living in the same, like literally the same building that we worked out of. So that’s kind of interesting. I feel like there are probably other interesting things about me that this last year has really zapped out of existence. I probably have hobbies, or other things that I might have forgotten about myself at this point. So So yeah, the the the things that I’ve been doing for the last year our business and modeling. So
yeah, we feel that and I, so I have been coming to your store for a while now. And pretty much since we move to town, which I think was probably not too long after you moved into your current location. And it’s the first store that I go to when I need to buy a gift for somebody. And I want something like cute and unique. And when I have friends visiting from out of town, I always take them to retrofit culture because it’s so cute. And all of your like, it’s such a unique store. There’s just between the vintage and the handmade items. And you have a lot of locally made things. And it’s so much fun. So I remember when Megan was visiting before she moved here, I took her to the store, and she bought many, many items.
Took me like a little It was a nice little Bloomington tour of
like the coffee hound and we went to retrofit was so much fun. So I have I have been in love with your store for a long time. But I would really love to know what made you decide to open the shop.
Um, I’m gonna say a leap of faith a little bit. So my husband and I have been living in the far north suburbs of Chicago. And he had been going to grad school. And when he graduated, we, we knew that he wanted to teach at a community college and he kind of was like, hey, do you think that I should like, put a wide net for resumes? Or should I try to stick local and I had been at my job, my job at that point. I’d been there for seven, eight years. And I was feeling like this would be okay to move on from. So anyways, he got a job here in Bloomington. And I was very happy at that point to move on. But I didn’t have anything lined up here. I didn’t have something lined up here. But I didn’t. And something I had recently started at that point was selling vintage items on Etsy. And it was going really well. I was like, Oh my gosh, people like the things that I like when I find things when I’m out junking those are the, and I love them. Those are the things that people respond to. So I felt really encouraged by that. And I started um, I started at like, what would they call antique malls, you know, where you like rent just a booth of space. I did that in a few different antique malls. Because at that time I was, I was only focused on vintage stuff. And after a bit of doing that, I kind of thought maybe I want my own place. Maybe I want my own business, I guess I already was had my own business, but like, you know very much my own storefront, my own aesthetic, you know, all of that. So we moved into a very small space, we kind of started small, and we’re still very small. We’re still very small business, but I think it was about 400 square feet. So is for a store that is very, very tiny. But it was going well. And probably maybe because of that Etsy vibe or just the things that I was into. I knew that I wanted to incorporate handmade items. I knew even though it wasn’t from Bloomington, I was already falling in love with it. I knew that there were wonderful makers here. I wanted to support those makers. So I knew I wanted to bring that into to the store as well. And, you know, I’m not really recommending going into business without a clear vision or business plan. Like, I think that you should totally do that. But my, my plan was just to have a store that was filled with things that I really liked, hoping that other people would really like them too. And so far, that’s, that’s gone pretty, pretty well for us. And so after being two years in that little bit smaller space, we actually bought a building where my store is now. And then like I mentioned before we live above it. So we’re not, we, when we first moved here, we were renting a place to live, and we were renting a storefront. So that kind of changed the dynamics financially for us to be able to buy a commercial building that we could both live in and run the business out of so. So that’s how I got started.
I feel like, I feel like one of the things about the way, you know, obviously said, maybe, maybe don’t do as you say, not as you did, although it does seem to be working for you have you sort of curating all of these things that you really like, is I feel like you have sort of almost curated like, your ideal customer in a lot of ways. In that, like you have, so from what I can tell, of the people that I know, who are big fans of your business, you have this lovely, like customer base of people who love to shop local, they love to support, you know, local makers, and artisans, they tend to be very much about diversity and equality and you know, loving one another. And like, these are all things that I feel like are reflected in the items that you carry in the store and like in that way have sort of infused into your business and the people that tend to shop there. So and maybe that’s just my view of as an outsider, maybe that’s not totally accurate, but it’s sort of how I have viewed your business for a long time. And I love that about your store.
That means so much because I don’t I don’t know, like, I feel like you said that even better than I could say it like, I feel like, especially when we moved from our first location to our second location. It was in 2015 no, yes. And then not long after Donald Trump was elected president. And that doesn’t seem like those two should go together. But it was my own space. And I feel like probably as a country, but certainly for myself is going through this like really reflective time of just like, what, what is this? What is everything looking like what is happening? You know, and I think that that I’m a kind of brought me out of this idea of even more so of like, I need to curate this store for everyone to maybe I need to curate a store for people who who do think and and value the same things I do, because they already did value shopping local, they valued, you know, sustainability with vintage items and, and handmade items. But that’s really when some of our, our merchandise in the store took more of a turn towards like a little bit more left leaning philosophy and and thought and. And at first I was really timid about that. And then I thought, No, this is it’s not gonna be for everyone and a curated customer is is the perfect way to say it. I think that we have especially really strong, awesome women who support the business. I love, love, love my customers. Many of them have become good friends. So I do I think you’re absolutely right. I think again, maybe that’s not Shouldn’t be in everyone’s business plan. But it is, um, it’s been okay. It’s been, it’s been a really a good way for me to be as authentic as I can, both in myself as the person who’s always at the counter. I’m the one who works here. And, you know, for the items that we have in stock, so, yeah, I think you’re right.
I think that’s really important too. Because if you’re, especially if you’re in business for yourself, you want to have it be a reflection of who you are in being able to promote the values that you are for. Because otherwise, kind of what’s in a way, what’s the point? Like, you could, you could probably sell a ton of other stuff. But if there’s not a value behind it, or a certain thing that you’re that you’re trying to bring out into the world, then why why bother?
You? I mean, I Yes, absolutely. Again, said better than how I said it, you guys. Hired you’re gonna be my new marketing team. I love you both.
So how have you had to pivot during the pandemic? I know that you have done some delivery services, but what else have you had to change up or the you know, make different in your offering.
So before March of last year, we did not have website, I’m sorry, we did. If you went to our website, it would say where our business was located in our hours. It was like a very, it was like a page. It’s just like, enough to have a website and not have any real information on it. Because I had made the choice earlier that I really wanted to focus on like the storefront, I wanted to focus on people coming in and having an experience when they were here, and I just didn’t put a lot of time or effort into online sales at one point I had early on. And it just felt like I was splitting my time. And I was just like, No, I don’t want to do this. I want to focus I want to focus on in store sales. And that’s what I had done until this last year. And I realized that’s not gonna happen like that. You know, I mean, I just don’t see how this can continue. So we quickly put together a website. We did sales through like Instagram stories before we have the website up and running. We did curbside pickup we did, we are still doing, but especially around Christmas did lots of deliveries. And, yeah, so there, there was a lot of there was a lot of pivoting because so much of what I wanted was to invite people into the store, right, I wanted to have events and pop ups, and all of these wonderful things that you can do at a store, I wanted it to be a space in the community. And, you know, that was not really an option anymore. So it was a big pivot. But I still I wanted to offer as much as we could, one because I wanted the business to still be here after the pandemic, but also because I’m because I still think that we have a great community around us and I wanted to be able to offer all the things that we did in store. So we were shut down for a while. We didn’t reopen until the first part of June last year. And when we did reopen, we had limited hours. We have more hours now but they’re still more limited than you know last winter. So we have not only pivoted but pivoted multiple times. And I think any business owner or anybody going through what the world has gone through this last year knows I mean it’s so so many pivoting right like we just pivot constantly like this is a hurdle Okay. How do we solve it? This is a you know, this is an a different type of obstacle. So So yeah, the pivoting is is like the name of the game. I think that stabilizing now, I hope it continues to, we are definitely in a much more like routine type setting now with very regular hours and like not too much pivoting, but you know, who knows? One thing is last year’s data is right, like who knows, we’ll have to reevaluate in another month and, you know, the next season and so on and so forth. So we have pivoted a lot over the last year.
So, you know, aside from just like having to get used to that, what, what would you say has been the biggest struggle in the past year, maybe maybe not even just related to running the business just in and of itself. But, you know, for you, what do you feel like, has been the biggest the biggest struggle?
I think the biggest struggle, and it is about the business, but it’s it’s much more about life is is just balance has seemed harder in the in the last, you know, year in some change than it ever was before. So when stuff started shutting down for COVID, my child no longer had daycare, my husband started working at home, which is, was amazing, very fortunate for us. But he still had to work, too. So everything has seemed a bit foggy. And that work life balance has just been harder. Because I never feel fully like I’m parenting. And when I’m at work, I don’t feel fully like I’m at work, there’s there’s just a much greater area. And whether you own a business or not, I’m sure every parent out there is thinking something similar, I just feel like it’s a very shared experience. And even if you’re not a parent is just, you know, there’s just a lot of pull there of, you know, I need to balance some sort of social life with not being able to have a in person social life, you know, there’s, could we all just go on and on about, there’s been a lot of difficulties this last year, but for a business owner for and maybe I mentioned this, maybe I’m the only one that works at the store. So there’s nobody taking other shifts for me, there’s no I do everything for the business. So if I’m not all in and on top of my game, then something something is lacking. And as a parent, I mean, I’m with my partner and with my husband, but it’s kind of the same thing. Like he still got to be all in and doing what you need to do there too. And that’s not really different than a over a year ago, but somehow it is.
I think there’s also something to be said to for the fact that see your daughter’s two now. So she was about one when all of the pandemic stuff started. And I feel like having a one year old myself child who’s recently one, that you just sort of start to come out of the fog, like of that first year. And then now you’re being thrown into a pandemic, like, I feel like the first year especially maybe for first time parent is at least it was for me felt like a lot of just a big brain fog. And like trying to figure out what the fuck I was doing. And then I like 1,000% and then you and then all of a sudden you’re like, Okay, all right, like the first year I’ve got that under my belt, maybe I’m doing okay, and then to be like, well, now there’s a global pandemic and everything that’s thrown off. Its rocker anyways, like, cool. Okay, here we go.
I think you’re absolutely right, because I think during that first year of kit being here, I just felt like I felt like a lot of in a lot of places with business. I was like, this is really this is good. For now. I feel like I’m doing a good job, how I’m doing it right now. But she’s gonna start going here and this is going to be able to start happening and this is going to start happening and I’m really going to be able to focus more On this part of the business or that part of the business, and then it’s like, oh, no, you want to focus on, you know, renovating more places in the building? Nope, you’re not. Your focus is not going to be on that. So, yeah, I’m sure that people have all kinds of a million different experiences that maybe felt the same way. But yeah, you’re always kind of looking down the road, right? And I feel like, you know, January 20 years like, man, 2020 is gonna be my year.
We didn’t know you’re
gonna be so on top of everything. And then it was like, Oh, no, you’re gonna be, you’re just gonna be on a roller coaster ride for for a while, you know? So there’s definitely that. And that transcends owning a business. I’m sure that that is so applicable to everyone’s life in some way.
Yeah, I feel like we kind of all just last a year, like, no matter what you did in the past year, I moved across the country. And I still feel like I just completely lost an entire year of my life.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We kind of collectively did. Yeah, and even. I’m sure even people who I will outright say I don’t agree with but didn’t slow down didn’t change their, their role, you know, just kept doing exactly how they had been doing. They still lost out. They didn’t see all the friends and family. They didn’t get to go to all the I mean, I don’t think there is a person anywhere who hasn’t felt the effects of the pandemic. And I mean, I guess, I guess that’s what a pandemic is, right. I mean, it’s pretty, you know, world changing for everyone. So, yeah.
So is there anything that you have adopted in the past year, for your business, that you think that you’re going to keep moving forward that you, you know, lessons that you might have learned that worked out better for you? or anything like that?
Yeah. So we, we’ve started a website. Um, in hindsight, I’m like, why didn’t I have a website before? I guess there was some reason in my head, but that, I mean, that’s what we’re gonna have that for forever. I think. I don’t know that we’ll always do deliveries. But I think during the holidays during Christmas time, I think people really appreciated it. But not just because of the pandemic, because it’s hard to go shopping sometimes. And it’s hard to do, you know, get everything done. You know, when you’re juggling a whole bunch of stuff, and I think people really appreciate it that, will we do it to the same extent, maybe, maybe not. But I think that we will have keep that in some shape or form. And there is no reason for curbside pickup in any business to ever go away, please. I don’t want it to go away from my business, but I don’t want it to go away for anybody else’s business either. I that is something that I have loved so much this last year, and I i hope a lot of businesses keep that we plan on it. So
yeah, we were talking about that. And an episode recently where we were like, Can everybody just please keep curbside? Yeah, amazing.
Yes, yes. Yes. Yes.
So you know, we’ve talked a lot about the struggles but what’s your favorite thing about owning the store?
So my, my favorite thing I kind of say it like tongue in cheek like I like being my own boss. And I definitely mean that. I definitely mean that. But I think
being the front desk employee, as well as managing the store and doing all other stuff, I think it has been great that I am my own boss. Because you know, there are days where you’re burnt out and you are low energy, and I can give myself grace to be like, that’s okay today where maybe you’re employed by someone else. Maybe he worked at a grocery store or something, you know, I mean, that’s not something that a lot of front desk frontline employees get. And I’m not exactly a frontline employee, but I also am like, I Am I am the person at the register. So I, I can appreciate, I can appreciate that I am my own understanding boss, if that makes sense, okay. And then I also like how we talked before, like, I really like that I can share my values through our merchandise, and I run things through, you know, friends family, my husband, you know, I mean, I’m not like just an island unto myself, but like, when I have an idea I, I can follow it through to what ends I want to follow it through on like, if I want to make a big change I can. I’m the one who can say yes to that, you know. So that’s, in most cases. So that is awesome. And like, really empowering, not not owning your own business or in a lot of different jobs, you don’t get that kind of, say in what you’re doing. So when you are the owner, you definitely do have that say, and that’s pretty rad. Are there are negatives? Yes. Because you’re making the decisions, you know, like, win, lose or draw, you’re making the decisions. But
then if you have a big idea, you also are the one that has to execute?
Yes, yes. Yeah. So believe me, there’s some negative sides of that, but it is very, like, okay, super duper, small, tiny, tiny, small. We don’t have any merchandise in the store anymore. That says things to the, like the example of like, good vibes only. That seems like really, really positive thinking and is very popular to put on T shirts, or stickers or different things, and I won’t have it in the store. super small. But, um, it’s, it’s not something I believe in. You can bring whatever vibes you want to whatever situation you want. I’m, you know, I don’t know, that is a small thing that I’ve made up in my head and can implement swiftly, but we’re just not going to have that anymore. So and there’s, you know, then there’s umpteen small things like that, that you can say, I don’t want to carry t shirt companies that only go small, through large or small, even small through extra large, if I’m going to carry a company, they need to go through three acts or you know, whatever it is, like I can, I can make those decisions. And it is very possible that no one will ever notice. But that’s okay, because I notice and I feel better about those changes. So
I think even if it’s a small thing, first of all the small things will compound and two things that people definitely will notice. But even one small thing, like there might be one customer that notices that you don’t carry a good vibes only thing and be like, Oh, thank goodness, I am so tired. Or one customer who is appreciative of the clothing sizes, it it doesn’t matter that it’s only one it’s still a customer that notices and appreciates what you’re doing.
You thank you for saying that because I think you’re right. And I think it does add up when there’s many things like that surrounding you know, it’s not only that we don’t have good vibes only sticker but we do have a sticker that says mental health matters, like so it’s not it’s not just one thing that we may or may not have it it is a multitude of things that we we try to implement in the store and we try to always I try to always as a person do better be better. And so as a store that’s something we’re always striving for. I’m sure that there are any number of people who could come in and and you know, tell me different things are problematic and I can take that into consideration. I don’t have to I don’t have any red tape I don’t have to like run it through a whole bunch of you know investors or you know, something like this that if that resonates you know that can be that can be implemented that day even you know, depending on what it might be so
Yeah, and I think like Megan said, you know, one person it might really mean the world to one person that they know that you are going to carry sighs include Have t shirts and stuff, they want a really cute locally screen printed t shirt, they can definitely find it in their size. But then, you know, Megan and I are big believers in the power of influencer marketing, and we are all in as much as that word is annoying. We’re all influencers to the people in our lives, right? And so they are excited about that. And that means a lot to them, and they go home and they tell their best friend about it. And their best friend is like, that’s cool. I’m gonna go check out that store, like those things snowball and I just feel like the when you put good out, you get good back?
Well, you know, I hope so because we do so little actual advertising. I mean, besides social media, that’s our our, we really rely possibly too heavily on but we definitely rely on word of mouth. And I do hope that people see what we’re trying to do and spread the word. So that means a lot that you say that.
Can you before we before we move on to this last question. Can you talk about? So you know, you mentioned you’re located on the west side of Bloomington. So for folks that are listening, that aren’t familiar with the town where we live, can you talk a little bit about what exactly that means and why that I think that that is a really great thing. And like with that community in that neighborhood?
Yeah, definitely. Okay. So, um, Bloomington is probably not unlike a lot of small cities or large towns. There is a historic core, the older part of the city of Bloomington, we have a very historic downtown, and the neighborhood surrounding downtown, our older housing and building stock 100 plus years, 150 year old buildings and houses are really common. And to the west of downtown, so to Bloomington, Westside, over the years, has become has become more populated by people of color, lower socioeconomic, economic class, working class. It’s still really diverse. There’s still I mean, tons of people from all kinds of income tax brackets and different things. But it is also a part of town that the city has not always kept up on older sewers, older roads, older infant structure. So as the town started building east and developing commercial district that way, there are definitely parts of town that have been more neglected and the west side, I think universally, people would say that the Westside falls into that category. But there’s this little block that we’re on, that was almost like a second downtown. And there was a few different places in Bloomington like this, but it was, it was a little commercial district. Because even though Bloomington is not that big downtown if you’re if you’re walking with a little bit further, so there was this commercial district, it really catered to working class, the building that we’re in, was owned by Westside clothing for 102 years, and they had uniforms for railroad workers, coal miners. Later police and post office uniforms could be bought here. They sold stuff like car hearts and Dickies and like kind of that like, rugged ware type type stuff. So but because the infrastructure hasn’t been taken care of, and because people have started to view the west side in a certain light. A lot of buildings, commercial buildings over here. Were vacant. So that is where we bought. And it is where I feel very at home, my hometown of Zion, Illinois, feels very much like the west side of Bloomington. So I feel extremely comfortable here. And but, you know, we still get questions like how how’s the business doing? How is it on the west side, you know, the west side is great, but it does, it does have more of a stigma than maybe some other places in town. And I want to say that it’s important that we Have a business and a successful business here because I would like to show other small business owners that it’s a very viable place to both live and work because we’re doing both and we’re loving it. So it’s like, our own personal I don’t know love song side of Bloomington and, and to just neighborhoods that, you know, maybe are not looked at as as viable places for business that truly are. So
yeah, there’s there’s a couple of really cool nonprofits down in that area as well. That are one is called the West Bloomington revitalization project. The other is the tool library. So it’s actually is exactly what it sounds like. They have all sorts of tools, power tools, Don, you know, but not power tools. I’m obviously super handy. So I know all of the lingo. But you can literally go and check out chainsaws and wallpaper steamers, and snow blowers and you know, all that kind of stuff, hammers and saws, you can literally go and check them out like a library system for free. And I mean, I know tons of people that use the tool library and I know that the West Bloomington revitalization project, wb RP has done a lot of work in that area. And so I always like view you as very sort of enmeshed with that. And though the work that’s being done by so many people who live and work in that neighborhood to show like, This neighborhood is worth putting resources into and it’s beautiful and wonderful and dynamic. And so I love that you’re over there. I just I really do.
Yeah, I love being over here. We’ve I know that sounds so silly, but I feel like I need to say like, we’ve never had a problem over here. We’ve never had any, you know, issues whatsoever. And it seems so silly to say but it is like people’s number one question, you know, and it’s such are so very specific neighborhood. Our block is very commercial, but then it’s residential all around us. And there we know a lot of different neighbors who live in those neighborhoods, or, you know, those streets and wonderful people. We have the constitution trail that like runs just behind us, which you know, connects to all different parts of the city. We are not far from downtown Bloomington that is a such a resource that people just I don’t even if they i don’t i don’t know that everybody takes advantage of how cool downtown Bloomington is. And wb RP I can’t say enough about they do have the tool library, which is amazing. They have community gardens, they have the bike Co Op, which helps get bicycles out to people to them, but also helps them learn how to fix them up so that that’s a viable source of transportation and recreation for people. We’re right behind project Oz, which they do so many wonderful things for the youth in our community. So Oh, and also, upper limits is right down the street from us. I do not know, I feel like there are definitely tons of people that know about upper limits, but like it is the coolest thing. So it’s a grain silo huge grain silos that have been, like, outfitted with rock climbing gear inside and like you climb up these huge huge grain silo that I don’t even know. It’s amazing. It’s like very very cool, very cool. reuse of properties. Yeah, like it’s so I just don’t like um, the the restore the Habitat for Humanity restore recently did like a million dollar plus renovation of their building that’s also right down the street from us, making it much bigger and much nicer facility.
yeah, I think the west side has so many amazing things going for it and I, I I try with the store obviously I tried to market the store. But I also I’m always a little bit trying to market the west side too, because I just think it’s so great. And I don’t know that everybody views it in the same loving eyes that I have for but I want everybody to so I’m gonna keep keep at that because it’s, it’s dope.
I think that that’s just another like point that when you have your own small business like you’re your own your own your own boss and you have had the ability to like see You know, curate your your customer type and all of that stuff. But like you also have the ability to, like, do good in your community and give back into your community and show people, all the beautiful things about your community. And those are all things that you’re doing.
I live like a block off of downtown. And I know a lot of people, especially the neighborhood that we moved from would be like, Oh, you’re What? Why do you live in that area? Like you don’t even know what you’re missing? Like, that’s a great place to live. There’s the I think they just think of like, I don’t know, I don’t know what they’re thinking of when they think of neighborhoods that are, you know, more diverse, and maybe not in their income bracket, or whatever it is. But they’re the great neighborhoods, and I am always just being like, this is probably the best place that we could be living for us right now. I don’t know. What’s wrong with you guys. It’s like you’re missing out on so much by not being in an area where you can really be with your community.
Yeah, I, yes. All of what you said, 1,000%. It’s always, even after living here for five and a half years and having a store here for five and a half years. It is still always like, hose takes me a second when people are like, so everything’s like, okay, here. And you know, they kind of do that, like, I don’t know, like, puppy dog look kind of like, yeah, don’t it’s okay. And I’m like, Yeah, it is. And I do know what you mean, but I’m not gonna play into it, I’m just gonna tell you that. We’re having a really amazing time living and working on the west side. Because that’s what we’ve experienced. So.
So ever since we moved here, my kids have been like, when are you going to open your own business? So what advice would you give to people out there who might be thinking about opening their own business or their own storefront?
Oh, wow. That’s huge. So I could probably tell you a million things not to do, or to do better than I’m doing. But the, the number one thing that I would say, is to, to make sure you pay yourself. Sounds so silly, but it is so easy to like, reinvest and do those different things, make sure you’re budgeting to pay yourself and not. And give yourself raises and like, evaluate your performance. Like, you really need to be your own boss in a way that another boss would be as well, if that makes any sense. But you need to advocate for yourself as an employee and appreciate and, and be your own boss and evaluate yourself. It’s all about wearing all those hats. And to someone not having a small business, that’s probably like, what do you even pay yourself? What do you mean? Like you just get a paycheck, right? No, no, like you, you have to determine those things and make sure that you are I don’t know doing right by yourself. If that makes. Hopefully that makes sense.
Yeah, cuz I’ve read a lot of stories about small business owners who just reinvest everything into their business, and so they don’t take a paycheck at all, and just live off their savings for years. Because they’re trying to make the business to sex successful to their own detriment, basically.
Yeah, yeah. No, that is, I mean, and in the beginning, like, I mean, when I say the beginning, I mean, like, the first several months, there’s just, I mean, it’s just like writing checks, like, all the time, like, Oh, I need this, I need this. But you know, at some point, and at some point should be much sooner than a few years like you, you need to make sure that you are doing right by yourself and, and as you know, for your family to like so, maybe don’t reinvest this portion and make sure that you spend it on you. And wait spend it on you. That means that it makes it sound like you’re going to go to a spa or something I mean, spend it on paying yourself,
buy yourself some groceries,
groceries, treat yourself with groceries. There you go. I also like the point about like, essentially doing your own performance evaluation because I think depending on your personality, I think it could be easy to go one of two ways. Either you just think everything that you do is fine and awesome. Or you are the type of personality if you’re me, that’s like, everything I do is garbage. And so I do like that sort of taking a step back end, maybe doing your own performance review, as if you were a boss, doing that for an employee, and being able to look at like, what are the great things and positive things that I’ve done this year? Where, what are my opportunities for growth, and like, forcing yourself to look at your own performance a little bit more objective, really, maybe just carving time out regularly to do that? I like that point that you just made about that.
Yeah, I think it’s important because you really, so there’s small business where you have, you do have employees, if you’re running a business as small as mine, and you are your only employee, you are really just playing like musical hats instead of musical chairs. Like right now I am, you know, doing this part of the job and and I think, yeah, evaluating yourself and where you can do better and also praising yourself for when you’re doing something good. super important. For sure.
Tahnee, thank you so much for joining us. This was a great conversation. Um, you know, I just I sound like a total fan girl, but I really love your business. I love your story, love you. And it was really fun to get to hear a little bit more behind the scenes and chat about it. So let’s wrap up the week with joy. What is bringing you joy right now Tahnee.
What’s bringing us joy?
Um, so it’s something really tiny and small. But my two year old has learned to say dandelion, it doesn’t sound like dandelion, it sounds like dandelion or something like this. But they’re, well, probably not now because it snowed today, but usually they’re just all over right? And so you see them everywhere. And she’s just like dandelion, dandelion, dandelion. And this past week, she picked one for me and brought it to me and I died.
Complete puddle. Yeah,
so dandelions and kit are bringing me joy this week. Oh, love it.
Stephie What about you?
So mine is maybe not as wholesome as Tawny. We are recording this it is for 20 my so we get barkbox for our dogs. If you do not have dogs, and you’re not familiar with barkbox It’s a subscription box that comes once a month. And it has a couple of toys in it and some treats. And the toys are always like themed. And every now and again like they’ll have extra toys like an extra theme. And you can choose to add to the box this month. He sent out the best email a few days ago and it was basically it was like there’s nothing weird about this email at all like this. The subject was this is a normal email with like a little green sprout and then like the eyeball emojis and we have some exciting normal news at farm for our savings just for you in honor of the 20th of this very normal month. And then they showed like all of the 420 dog toys they had but they like named them. So like they showed it was like a joint but they called it smug spinach burrito. And they had a cannabis leaf and they called it a single maple leaf and they they had these two different size bongs. And one was weird watering cans, and the other is bigger, weird watering cans. And I was just like, peeing my pants. I didn’t I very unfortunately did not add any to our box because it did come today that would have been really excellent timing. But I was just like paying my pants at these. This business that is like, Hey, we’re just gonna go all in on our weird. The other thing that is quite different that was bringing me joy today is that I got an email from Jenny’s ice cream, which we talked about Jenny’s ice cream a little bit on the last episode. But they sent an email that was basically like, Hey, we know that Mother’s Day is a really hard season for a lot of people. If you don’t want to receive any of our emails about Mother’s Day, opt out right here. You’ll stay on our email list. You’ll get all of our other emails but we will not send you any Mother’s Day emails and as someone
Right, like as someone who has had some extremely hard Mother’s Day seasons, I was like, this is really lovely. And I think that other companies should implement that. So those are two things that some some companies are doing that brought me joy this week. So, Megan, how about you.
I also have two things. The first is that I got my first shot last week. And I feel like my experience is different from your Stephie because it felt really smooth. Like I went in, and like checked in and then just follow the little like arrows on the ground and just kept walking and walking until I got to the thing and I immediately was able to get my shot and then had to sit and wait. So I don’t know if they just had managed to figure it out in the time between when we both got our shots, but it was super smooth and awesome. So as very excited. Only a few more weeks now, so I get the second one and then hobby. Oh, filled up with my 5g signal. Perfect.
and then my second thing is that I’m getting my hair cut tomorrow.
You’re gonna feel like that’s totally new woman.
I know. I have not gotten my hair cut in two years.
Oh my god. I’m so excited for you. Yeah,
are you a big change? Like a chop? Or just? Ah,
I don’t know. I think I might just get it. I don’t know. I haven’t decided. I suppose I need to decide. Because I do normally not get my hair cut that often. But also, right when I was getting get it cut last year was when everything closed down.
I’m like a year behind when I normally get it cut.
I don’t know I The link is really long and it’s just feel I feel like I have so much hair right now. Yeah, so I don’t I don’t know. I also in the time between my last haircut and now I got LASIK, so I feel like I don’t even know what I look like anymore.
Oh, yeah, I need some like new shape around your face kind of situation.
Yeah. Okay, I’m
here for you tomorrow. Yeah, perfect. I expect text updates. Obviously,
I will probably hate it because that’s usually what happens when I
liking it. I’m prepared. I’m prepared.
I will also I really liked my last haircut. And then I moved away. So obviously I can never go back there. So that’s part of my problem, too. Usually, I like it took that long to find a stylist that I liked back in Austin. I’m really hopeful for this person here. Fingers crossed. Yeah.
Next week’s episode
we are going to chat about being introverts. We cannot believe that we’ve never actually had this as a an episode topic before. But we’re gonna talk all about what being an introvert means and just why we’d rather stay in. And the meantime, leave us a review on Apple podcasts and listen to us on your favorite platform. You can also follow us on social media at irsipodcast or send us an email at email@example.com we’d love to hear from our listeners. Bye
Transcribed by https://otter.ai