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So it was about 2 months into the Pop Up shop and things were going well. (At least we thought so). We were having more events and gaining traction and Chris was working on a few more pieces for the shop to "fill it up" as we had some super awesome people come in and ask when we were actually planning on getting more merchandise... yay client feedback. 

It was late Saturday night after an event we had. Chris came at the end to help me clean up as he usually did; emptying the ice buckets, pulling the trash together, giving people nasty looks who were still lingering.

We went home, to sleep and then at 2am I heard a loud crash. Lucy our Pit mix and I jumped out of bed. I searched for Chris who normally gets up in the middle of the night for a scoop of peanut butter and what not. He wasn't in the bedroom or the kitchen or the bathroom. I opened the basement door to see him at the bottom of the stairs. It was the middle of summer and we don't have central air so the window ACs are on and the doors are closed. The basement door is right next to our bedroom door... and you can put the pieces together. 

Face bleeding, holding his left arm I rushed him to the ER at Mountainside. Thankfully it was a quick trip (no school bus traffic at 2am). We got him settled into a room and the doctors came to check him out and set up his Xray and MRI. Turns out he cracked a bone in his face, fractured his wrist and had some nasty cuts & bruises. All that I could handle. What I could NOT handle was all the staff jokingly ask me if I pushed him down the stairs. "Um WHAT?" 

Yes, I had at least 3 medical professionals think they were late night stand up comedians asking me if I pushed my husband down the stairs. Now I don't get worked up about a lot, because WHO CARES. Retail really does kill your spirit due to the insanity of most daily encounters. But this bothered me because:

  1. I was legitimately worried about my husband
  2. Nothing is funny in an ER at 3am.
  3. Would you EVER ask a man that? No, didn't think so. Because that would be considered domestic violence. Double Standards abound everywhere people. 

And again normally I brush the stupid things people say aside, but maybe it was just how bad the jokes were that got to me...

But we handled it the best we could. We tagged his cast with our logo for some extra marketing and padded a few more weeks to any custom orders. Chris adjusted his gym routine and I did more of the heavy lifting at the shop and at home. We also said a special thank you to the Powers that Be that it wasn't his right hand. There is always a silver lining. Things could always be worse... Insert another wise old saying here. 

And in 6 weeks the cast came off and Chris got back to work. Just in time for the end of summer. 

Moral of the story: sometimes bad things happen and mess up your plans, but you just push through. Don't freak out. Don't go all woe is me. Just tell everyone who comes into the shop the story and put a lock on your basement door. 

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One of our first random Custom Order Requests was for a large Magnet Board. A new client walked into our shop, took a look around and we started chatting. She asked if we would build her something custom. I said, "Sure!" because why not, right?

The client just remodeled her beautiful kitchen and like most stainless fridges, it wasn't magnetic. She had school aged kids with tons of papers, schedules, to-do lists, etc that needed a home. Instead of a bulletin board or chalkboard she thought of hanging a magnet board. Only she couldn't seem to find one. 

On her 2nd visit she brought the gorgeous tiles that she used for her kitchen remodel. She envisioned a metal board framed in chunky reclaimed wood with a matching stain to her countertops and a tile in each corner

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I drew a quick sketch of the details we discussed, showed Chris to confirm a price quote and made a few stain options for the client to take home to confirm. 

(I was thinking of editing the sketch photo to look more professional but literally thats how things actually get done....)


Once the details get hashed out we normally take a 50% deposit for materials and also for security so the client doesn't back out, which is pretty standard. 

Think about it. People always say they will go to something, and then day of they cancel and guess who is stuck paying for a 25 person party bus for her sister's bachelorette? It's ok. Its just in our nature to want to say yes right away instead of knowing ourselves and how we would rather be on our couch drinking wine and looking at the photos of the night on FB.  

Anyway... In this case the price was cheap enough and we hadn't put the deposit rule in place so I said check was fine once completed. We had her super fancy tiles so I figured she meant business. 

Ok so for the project we needed the following:

  • sheet metal to be cut slightly less than 30"x 50"
  • reclaimed wood - Chris used his stash of reclaimed pine boards 
  • figure out the tile inlay in the corners
  • strong enough wire hanging set up on the top back
  • confirm stain options

Metal Supermarket! My home away from home! I say "my" because Chris had never actually been there until I was 8 months pregnant and I said, "I am not planning on coming here and carrying out 20 ft of tubing with a 2 month old so you need to meet the guys so you can handle our future orders." The Metal Supermarket in Fairfield IS THE BEST. I love them. Like would invite them to Thanksgiving... or at least for a beer.  

So I stopped there to get a sheet cut for the project and pick up a few other things Chris needed. It is definitely not a "supermarket" like you are picturing with florescent lights but more of a metal supply shop with an office in the front, warehouse in the back stocked with all kinds of metal tubing and angle and what not in different sizes and and shapes. The guys help you select what you need, price it out, cut it down and then load it into your car out back. Its the easiest most comfortable way for some random girl to buy metal and not feel out of place. 

Chris started the project and ran into the whole, "Oh I didn't think this whole router situation through for the tile inlay." But like most things, the internet helped... And epoxy. Lots of epoxy. I am considering buying stock in West Systems Epoxy. 

Finished project.

There were definitely things that we learned along the way, which is what happens every time you try something new. (I usually have to remind Chris this over and over). 

The client was happy. We were psyched to make our first real custom project that was client designed. And we quickly realized that our Pop Up Shop was more of a "showroom" where clients could get an idea of what we do, then come to us with what they needed. 

God I miss that black and white checked plywood floor...


So on to the Gallery Night:

I knew I wanted a local artist who had never had a showing before. That way their local friends and family would come out to support, and I could build up my clientele.

What I didn’t realize, was that my first Gallery Night Artist would become one of our greatest friends and really help champion our business.




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SOCIAL MEDIA STALKING PAYS OFF                  (even if its creepy)                      

I started looking around on Facebook for local artists. I had friends and other artists in mind for future showings but no one was quite ready and I wanted someone in town for our first one. I came across the Montclair Animal Shelter’s Facebook page and there were these beautiful pictures of rescue dogs and cats by local photographer Eric Delmar.

Perfect! I mean our slogan literally is “We like our furniture like we like our dogs. Rescued.”

I facebook stalked Eric and saw his other photos of Montclair, the Jersey Shore and just had a gut feeling that he was the perfect fit. I messaged him and gave him the gist of what I was thinking for our first gallery night and invited him to come by the shop.  He called me the next day to say that he wasn’t interested…  GOOD TIMES.

Ok so back to drawing board. Then the day after he called again and said he changed his mind… MEN…

FINDING YOUR KINDRED                             (everyone has a lil crazy)

Eric came by the shop after work and settled on an opening date, the # of pieces, pricing and our artist/gallery % split. He sent over images to choose from and we narrowed down to a general theme. Then he went off to print and frame. I took a few of his photos to start promoting. I created a flyer and had them printed locally making sure to state free booze. I compiled a list of all the people who I thought I should email in the off chance they would swing by. This included the local art museum, the local papers & online sites. I handed out flyers to other shop owners, left flyers at coffee shops, at the train station. Anything to get people in the door.

Eric’s Gallery Night was approaching. He dropped off his work and I started hanging. We were very lucky in the 1st Pop Up Shop that the owners were knocking the building down. So they didn’t care if we put holes in the wall. I mean the wall was straight up cinder block but if something was crooked, I could just hammer in another nail and hope it didn’t bounce back at me and take my eye out. The amount of nails I swept up was astounding.

FREE BOOZE CAN MASK 90 DEGREE HEAT            (in June, not July)

I went to my local liquor store who I realized I frequented a little too much… and told him I was going to be hosting a lot of events and needed a cheap booze that didn’t taste like nail polish remover. My man directed me to 2 options both under $5 each. I got a case of white and a case of red which I knew I would use for future events and purchasing cases knocks off 10%.  

Then I went to the grocery store to get those fancy-ish plastic wine glasses that have the fake crystal cuts. I like them. I think they make a difference. They probably don’t but it makes me feel like they make the cheap wine taste $3 more at least.

Threw in 2 cases of those tiny water bottles, because people constantly open the regular size water bottles, take a sip and leave it some where. Then open another. Nothing like dumping full water bottles at the end of the night. The tiny ones are perfect. And you need them. Not just for people who don’t drink, but because people need something to do with their hands… and it was damn hot.

Bonus: We finally used the wide Champagne bucket from our wedding registry! Filled that with ice, brought a few wine openers from home and we were set.

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So the day came, I started to set up and boy was it HOT… (did I mention that?) Like standing there and you can feel the sweat drip down your stomach HOT. But like I said earlier, I was on such a positive high I thought it would all work out.


Eric’s crowd was awesome! His family came, his friends, his coworkers and local people on the way home from the train stopped in. My entire family obviously came (and we roll 10 deep). We sold a bunch of prints. I had that giddy feeling putting those round pink SOLD stickers next to the frames. People were definitely visibly warm and uncomfortable but like I said they were a good, respectful crowd. So I was over the moon.


After our 1st successful Gallery night I knew we were on to something. Eric’s work basically stayed hung in some area of the shop for our entire POP UP duration and continued to sell. We even planned a 2nd Christmas Gallery Night and Hipster Santa Dog Event which we will get to later.

And then we became friends. The kind of friends that end up talking for 2 hours to the point that your partner calls because you went out to grab lunch from the Corner so where are you with my Avocado Toast, damnit!?

Every time Eric popped in he would take photos of the shop for me. New furniture that Chris just made, new artwork, my latest attempt to move the sofas around. He would send me the link, I would download, post on Insta and FB and actually look professional, making sure to call out our in house photographer.

He always tried to pop in for our other events, to see what was going on and meet new people. I love introducing artists and pointing to their work on the wall.


Fast forward to now: Eric has an awesome website and instagram which he constantly updates with his life adventures, and a side business shooting product photography for local business.  He is constantly upping his photography game by taking classes like super microscopic photography so he can shoot those bugs up close. I currently sell his work on our website and also at our future shop once I find it...

Eric also offers personal lessons on actually using your DSLR camera that you spent all that $$$  on (which I took and it has helped me immensely. I mean I am no Eric but I use Adobe Lightroom now so… yeah progress).

Basically, just an all around amazing human.

And that’s the moral of the story right? Be a good person, and good things come to you. Like awesome friendships.

And when one of us gets rich and/or famous, we will look back and think,

“Damn that ridiculously HOT night was totally worth it."

Eric's instagram:

Eric's website:


So the shop was open… now how do I get people to actually come in?

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I listened to my Nana’s advice and put an announcement in the town local paper. It felt super old school, but it made me feel like our business was official and not me just playing pretend shop keeper like when we were kids.

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"Not advertising is like kissing a beautiful girl in the dark. You are the only one who knows about it." 

- Phyllis Murray aka Nana

Next Steps:

-        Announced on Facebook and Instagram that we were open and ready for business.

-        Researched in-town interior designers and sent them emails introducing myself and our shop.       (no one answered).

-        Walked up and down Walnut Street to meet the other shop owners, introduce myself and invite them to swing by. Some people were super cool. Others were jaded and basically said I was wasting my time…

-        Plan our 1st event to drive traffic to the shop other than my siblings’ visits…

In the meantime… I waited. I waited for curious people to peak their heads in to see what the hell we were doing.  To tell me that they were going to buy this building. Which I heard over 100 times… It seemed like half the town “was going to turn it into a restaurant.” Because the town just didn’t have enough restaurants…  Or try to get the lowdown of who DID in fact buy the building and what they were planning on doing with it.

I waited for people to come in and ask where the previous owners were. They had an Antique shop selling Asian furniture. Some people thought I was that lady, who apparently was in her 80s… (mental note to make a dermatologist botox appointment).

Then came the people who wanted me to sell their old beat up black leather sofa… or tried to give me their giant 80s entertainment center because they couldn’t get rid of it.  Or the junkers who wanted to sell me the random stuff they found on the side of the curb or kept during estate clean outs.

“You getting more stuff?” with a weird side eye…(aka you are nuts to do this.)
“Yes we are working on making more furniture, getting our favorite stationery in and showcasing local artists,” I would say as cheerily as I could.

 I was so excited and nervous and green. I had no idea what I was doing and it truly was a “learn on the job” situation. But Chris and I were so proud and hopeful. And for every 5 client interactions that were awkward or rude, there was 1 awesome conversation that made me feel a glimmer of hope. Hope in what we were doing and faith in humanity….

Just being in the space led to walk ins, word of mouth and after our first gallery night the artists started to come…and come. More on that next.