Monday, January 23, 2012

Our Journey to the New Store

In Early 2011, we knew that we needed to start looking for a new location for Elegant Mommy. Our lease was up at the end of the year and it was time for us to look for a permanent home. After 4 years we knew that we were going to make it through thick or thin and it was time to cement our presence in our community.

As we were looking for a new home, it was important to find somewhere that we could own and start to build equity. It was also important for us to find a location that would allow us to have a nice community area where we could have classes and other events.

We looked at a few different places and even made an offer on one place that fell through. After a long 3-4 months of looking and not seeing what we were looking for, our broker happened to remember a place that wasn’t even for sale, but he knew that it would be coming up for sale sooner or later. He made a few phone calls for us and the next thing we knew an offer had been given to the owner. Because the owners were in a partnership (of which ½ of the partnership was in Japan), we had to get a power of attorney from a man in Japan who had not been to this building for at least 20 years. It took us about 3 weeks to get the power of attorney and it took us another couple of weeks to get all of the paperwork done for the SBA side of the loan. We ended up switching banks a few times as well until we finally found a fantastic bank that has worked with us on small business financing (Reliabank).

November 17, 2011
We closed on our building in the middle of October and immediately starting clearing out all of the junk that was in there. Someone literally walked out of this building one night and never came back. In addition to all the “stuff” left behind, the building had gone to disarray in recent years because of some medical issues with the previous owners. It had not been loved for a few years and definitely needed some TLC. We knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us, but we have never been afraid of work and we knew that it was going to be such an amazing place for our community in the end. From the day I walked into this building, I had a vision of exactly where everything would be and how it would look; it has not changed much from my original vision.

October 18, 2011
In one weekend, we filled an entire roll-off garbage dumpster with contents from the store. It only took us about 2 weeks to fill another entire dumpster. One of the first things that we did was put a new roof on the building, and this was completed before the end of October. While that was being done, we completely gutted the inside of the building, down to bare cement floors and bare concrete walls. There were 2 VERY tiny bathrooms which we knocked out and made into one nice size ADA approved bathroom (which required us to hammer out the concrete on floor to move the pipes…this was the first large unexpected expense). After the inside was gutted, we moved on to windows. The building had 4 total windows (not including the front entrance), which were probably there since the building was originally built. We replaced all of the existing windows with operable sliding glass windows and added in 2 more large windows to the west side of the building. We did not expect the cutting of the concrete for these windows to be as difficult nor time consuming as it was. We ended up having to hire a special company to complete the cutting of the concrete for us…this was the second large cost that we didn’t expect.

We then started the framing, insulation, and sheetrock work. This part is where we saw some amazing friends begin to demonstrate some amazing generosity. We had many people come help my husband and myself during this process. Lots of volunteer hours went in to making this part come together. Even after the sheetrock work was done, we had some great friends help us with the flooring and painting as well.

In the middle of all of this, we had a LARGE setback which caused many tears to be shed…

Because we had been pushing so hard to get everything done, my husband and I decided it would be worth the money to hire someone to finish drywall work on the ceiling and texturing the walls. We hired a contractor that my husband knew through someone else and expected the work to be done in 1-2 days. After multiple issues with this contractor not showing up and not doing what had been promised, we decided to let him go after 3 days and hire another contractor we had known for years. The first contractor did not like being let go from the job and caused MANY more issues for us, including a visit from an inspector with the state and in the end, all of the things we had to go through in order to satisfy the state’s requirements ended up costing us nearly $7000 (that again was not in our budget).

Looking back on all of this, I am glad that everything played out the way that it did…it allowed us to spend the Christmas holiday focusing on Christ and not on our store. It helped us renew our faith that God will provide for His work to be done and we would get through this.

After Christmas, we got started again on finishing the new store and packing up the old location. We got the entire store inventoried, torn apart, packed, moved to a storage unit and painted in less than a week. Because the new store was not ready for us to move in yet, we had to move EVERYTHING into a storage unit for a few days before we could start moving in to the new place. After we got the okay from the city building inspector to start moving things in, my INCREDIBLE employees kicked in to overdrive. They got the entire store set up and ready in just a few short days.

In the middle of all of this moving and setting up, I had to go to Watertown to take care of that store as well. While I was gone that day, my employees built our wonderful checkout area and got a good majority of our inventory put away and organized! I was so relieved to have this part taken care of! The next day I started feeling not so hot and by Sunday, I was completely out of commission. I couldn’t enjoy our opening day as I was home sick in bed with strep. Once again, my great employees kicked into overdrive and they got the store running smoothly the first day open at our new location.

January 16, 2012
We still are not completely done – we have the back of the store to finish (which will house our office space, community space, and Educated Mommy). We have made incredible progress in only a few short weeks and have endured so many extra costs that we never could have expected. We are so close to finishing the vision that we have always had for this space and we have faith that somehow God will show us where the rest of the money and resources will come from to finish this project. The good news is that the back area does not need to have a lot of “outside” contractors. No plumbing, minimal HVAC work, and minimal electrical work. We also need to figure out how we will make the outside look like our vision, but I’m sure it will all come together.

I really want to take this opportunity to formally thank everyone who has helped us through this journey. Whether you have been there hammering, cleaning, painting, or hauling or if you were simply praying for us during this journey, Thank You. Elegant Mommy always has and always will be a resource in our community. We strive to make sure that we are able to educate on so much more than just maternity clothes. We want to make sure that everyone is able to make an informed decision on what is best for their family, not what is “right” according to someone else’s standards. I look forward to all of the exciting classes, workshops, groups, and events that will be held in the community room of our building and I look forward to serving every one of you during your parenting journey!

~Shelly Gaddis, Owner 
Elegant Mommy


niki j said...

I get so excited when I drive by and see the sign!! Prayer has been coming and will continue to come!!

ArtTeacher101 said...

Can't wait to visit your new store. I am in need of a sling for the new baby...the ones that criss cross in the front...I forget what they are called.

Jackie said...

The store looks amazing! Can't wait to see it. I have to do some shopping soon!