When I was in college, I worked at a place called Club Disney. It was one of those fly-by-night Disney businesses that only lasted a few years. They had a small handful of locations and I worked at the one in Westlake Village and at the location in West Covina during the summer months. A die hard Disney fan, I couldn’t have asked for a more fun place to work. I LOVED that job. Working for Disney was enlightening and even as an employee, it held all the magic that I experienced as a consumer.
Until they laid me off.
About two years after I started working there, we learned that Disney was closing all of the Club Disney facilities. Why!? We wanted to know. We were told that it simply wasn’t profitable enough. I could not understand why they would close down a business that wasn’t profitable ENOUGH. Profit is profit. Seems all good to me. And, by all appearances, that place was pulling in gobs of cash.
Fast forward nearly twenty years after I received my layoff notice and now having worked for multiple of business agencies, I GET IT. Running a business is hard work and it’s not worth the effort to just break even or boast a narrow profit.
I’ve written about our 2016 year in review and some of the planning that we’ve been doing for 2017. We’re seeing how the business ebbs and flows over the years. What is hot one year is not the next. What we planned for in 2015 isn’t necessarily relevant in 2017. It forces us to re-evaluate our plan; our ideas; our direction. Failing to do so would be like shooting ourselves in the foot…so to speak.
In 2017, we are redirecting our focus of the business. Multiple brick and mortar retail locations is not viable for the future growth of our business. Very much like the decision Disney made to close all of the Club Disney locations in 1999, we’ve realized that our focus is being pulled outside of the shop more than ever, and though the retail side is profitable, it’s not profitable enough to justify the time and energy that goes into it. Community outreach, Artist in Residence Programs, Career Days and interior design work is growing so rapidly that we simply can not keep up with the demands of two locations. As a result, we have decided to close #knottooshabbyMONROVIA so that we can focus on growing other areas of the business.
We’ve pulled together a list of the questions we’ve been getting, and I thought I would answer them very directly in regard to our plans this year.
Are you going out of business?
No. Definitely not. In fact, we are expanding. Both our online business and off-site design business has grown so much in the past year, we can’t keep up and continue that growth while managing two retail locations and remaining committed to participating in community outreach and education. Knot too shabby Glendora will continue to be open seven days per week with expanded inventory, as we continue to grow.
Why aren’t you closing the Glendora store and keeping Monrovia?
Knot too shabby Glendora is our flagship store. It’s where we started, small and humble out of the garage and then grew into two different retail locations. It would feel almost like a betrayal to our very loyal and committed customer base to close the doors in Glendora when they are the reason we were able to grow and open two locations in the first place.
Has business in Monrovia been bad?
It’s no secret that we struggle with foot traffic on the north end of Myrtle Ave., especially having so many vacant store fronts between us and the other stuff. But, the wealth of Old Town events and Farmer’s Market every Friday nights bring thousands of people to Old Town Monrovia, and we are privy to those consumers. We must determine that in order to grow one area of the business, we have to evaluate the cost of the other areas. And, right now we are in a position to continue the growth we experienced in 2016 through our off-site design services and custom work, but it comes by sacrificing the second retail shop.
Why don’t you hire more staff?
One of our greatest strengths is being able to offer superior customer service and product knowledge. Our team has been with us for years and undergone countless hours of training and attended product conferences so that we can offer the most reliable information to customers. It would take hundreds of hours and months to find and train someone at the cost of stagnating our other areas of growth so that we could dedicate the time needed to fully vest in new employees. To do that now would be like trying to run a marathon backwards while all your competitors (or opportunities) pass you up.
Is product going on sale?
Yes and no. There are some items that we will be putting on sale, mainly the vintage home décor and antique finds along with some of our refinished furniture pieces. We’ll be announcing flash sales via our facebook and Instagram pages for the various items going on sale and honoring our loyal social media followers to have first pick at what goes on sale. Annie Sloan Paint and supplies will not be going on sale and will be able to be purchased up until the end of January (at which time we will move all remaining product to Glendora). And, much of the other product we sell will simply be moved to knot too shabby GLENDORA as space allows. We will also be selling many of our large display pieces as product is moved and sold including our highly coveted chandeliers!
Was opening a second location a mistake?
At the time (over two years ago), we were experiencing a boom in our retail business and the DIY paint market. It was a great opportunity to expand into a new area and Monrovia has always been a home away from home as it’s where my childhood church family was (and still is) and where my best friend lives. So, I spend a lot of recreational time in Monrovia. Since we’ve opened knot too shabby MONROVIA, however we have expanded our website and online retail offerings. Had someone told me that online sales would overtake retail sales, I wouldn’t have believed them. We are shipping packages from one end of the US to the other on a daily basis (and occasionally to South America and Europe). Imagine stocking, packing, writing personalized thank-you’s for each package and shipping while still buying inventory, managing the accounts, scheduling employees, submitting payroll AND teaching workshops, hosting Career Days, providing Artist in Residence Grants, and so on and so on. Similarly, we have been privileged with an increase in custom refinishing projects and asked to create budget friendly design proposals and projects for homes. As of this moment, I’m experiencing a six week back log of custom work, have four off-site design jobs on the calendar, one Career Day, one Artist in Residence session scheduled (with more on the horizon), three private parties booked and am committed to teaching somewhere around 6-10 workshops in the next three months. To maintain a certain level of sanity and do well in the work that I’ve been given, I have to make the most logical business decision and that is to eliminate the demands of a second retail location. I don’t regret opening that second shop for a second. I have met some amazing people through our store in Monrovia, and I am confident that I will continue to see them as they continue with their projects and grow their own businesses.
I thought you were trying to sell this store?
You thought right. In fact, when we were designing the layout and improvements of the store two years ago, it was with the intention of selling it within the first three years of being open. It had the flexibility to offer an increased selection of clothing with a footprint for fitting rooms, or expand into a greater home and gift boutique. But, as the day-to-day demands of the business occupy the majority of my time, finding a buyer that fits the style and design of the existing business went on the back burner.
We haven’t seen a single business succeed in this space and/or there have been so many businesses come and gone in this location.
That’s what we’ve heard. Fortunately, we can say with confidence that we aren’t closing because business is bad so we don’t feel that this location is “cursed” or a bad place for a retail shop. In fact, Old Town Monrovia has been incredibly supportive in providing support and resources to ensure that business succeeds. I’m sure that any future store, should they take advantage of those resources will do extremely well!
For the next few weeks, we will be maintaining limited hours at our Monrovia location, where you can take advantage of an inventory reduction sale and/or nab some of the great fixtures and displays!
Starting Saturday, January 21st, we will be open from 10:00-4:oo pm every Saturday until February 18th. And, I’m always happy to make appointments if anyone would like to take a peek at something they’ve been eyeing. Chalk Paint® will be available until the end of January in limited supplies, and then we will be moving all of our product to #knottooshabbyGLENDORA where we will CONTINUE to be the DIY center for paint, supplies and workshops.
So, here’s to a new chapter in our business and growth in areas that we never imagined! I’m sad to be leaving Monrovia, but excited about what we have planned and know that you will be better served as we can tailor opportunities with more focus and care.