OUR 1ST GALLERY NIGHT WITH ERIC DELMAR

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.

 

 

ERIC DELMAR

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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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FRIENDS, FAMILY & COWORKER GUILT = SALES

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.

AND IT DID!

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.

THE FRIENDSHIP THAT KEEPS ON GIVING (hopefully forever)

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.

2017 UPDATE

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: @delmar.photos

Eric's website: www.delmar.photos

HOW I GOT THE WORD OUT & HOW I DIDN’T

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.

POP UP INS & OUT

So now that we found the space, we had to get moving on what running a Pop Up actually entailed.

First Things First…

LEASE

We were very fortunate that our new landlords were already experienced in this area.  So there wasn’t a 20 page document of legal mumbo jumbo that makes you nervous.

Terms:

We had a Month to Month lease agreement with the owner allowing us 1 month notice to vacate. We paid 1st, last and a security deposit. Then it was a waiting game of us holding out until the owners could demo the building, which as per the locals, would take awhile due to the town politics…

Utilities: Electric, Gas, Water & Internet

We contacted PSEG and set up service in our name for electric and gas. The electricity was still on in the empty building, but the gas had been shut off. We needed the gas for heating if we were still there in winter. The town had to come and turn the water on, which took the longest.

Repairs:

Kindly, the owners had the heat checked (in June) to ensure we would be ok for the winter. There were some random cabinets and a dryer left in the space, but I was able to move into a side room. I didn’t mind, honestly. I was just so happy to have the giant raw space to work with.

We had to do a thourough cleaning, sweeping, washing windows, making the bathroom look somewhat presentable. But it was all worth it.

Parking:

We had the 2 spots in front of the building (where we had previously illegally parked during the street fair). From the day we opened the shop, I spent the majority of the time asking people to stop illegally parking and running errands (so as to avoid paying the meter). Fun times… But finally about 4 months in people got the hint.

INSURANCE

Usually for short term Pop Ups people will get insurance for the day or the weekend. But since we planned on being in the space for a minimum of 3 months, I had to get REAL insurance. Luckily our insurance broker that we use for our automotive insurance was awesome and she hooked us up with a good deal. The issue with Pop Ups is really that some people still don’t understand what they are or why you would do them. So there isn’t a lot of examples to follow.

TOWN STUFF

I called the Town’s Zoning and Permits department to get an idea of what I would need to legally open. Again, the concept of short term rentals was something new… so therefore I basically gave up. I applied and paid the $50 fee for a monthly temporary sign to get me to sleep at night for the first month. But I knew I wasn’t going to pay $50 every month…  And I wasn’t going to pay the yearly fee for the sign because I might not be there that long (and my current sign was basically a plastic banner that I used for our 10 x 10 Tent at Fairs/Markets). After the first 3 months of back and forth trying to make a new law for Pop Ups, the zoning guy and I just pretended we could never actually get in touch by ignoring each other’s phone calls and emails. So I just moved on.

FUN STUFF

So once all that tricky legal and practical stuff was out of the way, we could move on to the fun stuff like decorating, creating new business cards with our shop address, making a cheesy announcement in the local paper and starting to plan our first event.

Keep in mind that Chris and I had literally no idea what we were doing. Every day was something I had never done before or even thought of. So we made a lot of mistakes, tried our best to learn from them and moved on quickly. Because there will always be Quickbooks to do.