still on vacation time

September 2, 2010 |  Category:   life the biz travels

And so is this blog. You knew I had many more photos to share, right? Besides, we’re still on vacation time, although Mark is getting ready to do his first epic 14 hour night shift tonight (I guess he really isn’t on vacation time then with this rude awakening…welcome home!). It made us realize that 2 full weeks is really a long time to be off on vacation and now he’s playing catch-up with all our retailers. Throughout our trip I kept thinking how taking 2 weeks off to go hang out in Seattle or anywhere else would be really difficult/downright impossible once we have a store. People don’t close down stores for 2 weeks at a time, do they? When we’re gone from our business it’s tough enough as it is, but we aren’t necessarily losing money right now because we aren’t paying any rent anywhere, we’re just not making any money when we’re closed.

It’s this loss of freedom that I lament the most, even though I’ve come around to really embracing the idea of a store. We even scouted out some Northwest goodies to carry in the store, including coffee. Although our own products in the store* will be very much about Brooklyn, we’d like to offer some items from the NW as a connection to Mark’s hometown. It’s stuff like this that gets us excited (also Three Potato Four’s new store which is fab).

I’m hoping to push out of these post-vacation doldrums soon before I waste September away (yes, it is indeed September!!). But for now, my mind is still on vacation, hazy from good times spent with our family and our friends. Coming back hasn’t been easy because there is a lot of uncertainty in our future and it was nice to not have to deal with reality for a bit.

But I will, once the fog lifts away.

*don’t get too excited about the store. There still are no concrete store plans yet, nor any space scouting. The whole thing is still ridiculously daunting.

**oh man, Mark left at midnight after 2 hours of sleep to go bake. He won’t be back till 3 or 4 the next afternoon. We may have to reconsider this strategy. Madness!

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  • elaineganmaclaine September 2, 2010 at 7:29 am

    whoa… Guacamole cheese-filled plate of nachos!
    If you look closer, there’s a hungry bee heading towards the ginormous snack, right timing!

  • krista {urbanite jewelry} September 2, 2010 at 9:11 am

    those nachos look so delicious, i almost cried when i saw them! i’m an american living in canada currently & miss great mexican food so. much.!

  • Kerrie September 2, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Off subject here, but what brand are Claudine’s shoes? I love them and need to find some new velcro sneakers for my kid. thanks.

  • Annie From Seattle September 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

    You had me at the first picture of the waffle with the fresh blueberries….oh, yum! Looks like such a fun trip!

  • Clara Artschwager September 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    absolutely love Claudine’s little grey jacket! your girls have the cutest clothes.

  • Renita September 2, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    You guys are Bad Ass remember? We are all rooting for you …

  • Steph September 2, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I’ve seen business’s close for a week or two when the owners have gone a vacation. You can totally do that! 🙂

  • carrie September 2, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    be so bold and so french – close for august, they all do it here! everyone goes on ‘vacances’ for at least the entire month, so even a bit longer. people understand here, it’s too bad that is not the case in north america…yet. just something to consider.

  • nicole September 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    don’t sweat it. our company closes once every quarter for at least two weeks to give our employees and my husband and i a break. we have a couple hundred retailers and online customers and we basically give them the head-up and everyone copes nicely. this time is important for recharging your creative juices and is very European. so that means it makes us super cool. you know, or so tired we’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown. whichever.

  • Jenna September 2, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Kerrie, C’s sneakers are Pumas. They used to be Mia’s so a few seasons old. I didn’t see the same sneakers this year, but I did get mia some suede pumas with velcros.

  • quyen huynh September 2, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    i know quite a few small business (cafe, restaurant,etc..) that have taken a month off each year. most of them are european and will tke august off. the coffee or food are good enough where people will patiently wait. i would imagine that you will have the same effect on people. i think your store will do GREAT!

  • JOni September 3, 2010 at 2:00 am

    in the Bay Area, there are tons of very SMALL stores. We’re talking about 100-300 square feet. They really pack it in with a few items and guess what? Sales are very high per square foot compared to large stores! These days, coffee shops don’t bother with tables, candy stores don’t bother with shelves (they stack them way high to save retail space) and even restaurants don’t bother with chairs/tables (they just set up stools outside.) It will save you A LOT of grief and expense to open a very small store. That way you can walk away for vacation or if you just get sick of it and it’s not working out. Small stores are also much more fun to decorate. I realize small stores don’t have large bakery spaces but if Mark wants to keep renting commercial space (since build out costs 200,000+ in dollars) it may be the perfect next stepping stone for you. Otherwise, if you insist on your own baking space, I REALLY suggest you guys get a restaurant broker (no commission of course) and buy a failed bakery. It will be MUCH cheaper than building the space yourself and trying to arrange lease terms on your own (if you do then you have to add on lawyer fees). There are LOTS of tips on ways to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. ASK business owners, not just freelancers. You’ll get practical advice.

  • katherine September 3, 2010 at 8:46 am

    even here in sweet louisville, ky there is at least one place I can think of that closes for a month (!) in the summer. and the fact that it’s the only one in the city is truly remarkable, because we’ve all grown to accept it, expect it, and hustle right back the day it opens. of course, it IS the only true legit vietnamese cuisine in the city, too…
    but, apart from all the examples these folks have given, closing the shop, or whatever you decide to do, so that you and your family can vacation and rest is important. and the more we move back to the old way of doing business – small, independent shops/producers/etc – I hope, hope, hope that this will be more common. if anything, you can know that we’ll be one more family doing it somewhere else in the US.

  • Jenna September 3, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Thanks guys for all the perspectives on closing a store. Of course when the time comes, we’ll have to see if we can even afford to do that! oh boy…so many things to consider!

  • lori September 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I can understand where you are coming from with the store. I’ve been toying with the same sort of idea, but lack of freedom scares me too. Especially since I don’t see enough of my family back home as it is. The other comments make a good point about being very European, etc. and others being able to do it. I know of a bakery that closes for 2 weeks a couple times a year. And if you can manage to find excellent employees that you can trust, this could be another way to keep it open, not lose business and best of all, make money while you are on vacation! 🙂

  • Nancy Cavillones September 3, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    In response to what Joni said: did you read that article about Trader Joe’s on Part of what makes TJs so successful and profitable is their small square footage (compared to other stores). They are selective in the products they offer and have very high turnover as a result!

    And the consignment shop here, owned by one woman, closed her store for two weeks to go on vacation!

  • Nancy Cavillones September 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    oops, i meant to post the link to the TJ article:

  • Joni September 3, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I loved the article, Nancy. Trader Joe’s is one of the biggest “open secrets” in the business world. But Jenna wants to sell ice cream too! Jenna, I really suggest you make ice cream in a commercial kitchen and sell it at your store. You’ll need a general cafe permit, NOT food. It’s a WORLD of difference. In fact, it’s about several thousands of dollars in permit costs. When you need just a electricity hook up, it’s very simple. When you need a sink, it’s a nightmare. I really recommend Mark sell only 10+ flavors (studies have proven that the more flavors, the less memorable they all are) and pair them with your cookies. We’re talking about fudge+ ice cream using your brownies, ice cream sandwiches with your whisky cookies, small ice cream drops with shortbread cookies, etc. Individual ice cream items priced at 3.00+ has a very large margin of profit. Of course, you need volume, which means an area where there are lots of pedestrians. Which means relatively high rent. So think about looking for a small space. You’ll be surprised HOW MANY YEARS it takes to find the right space. Start looking now, narrowing down neighborhoods. I know an ice cream store that took 3 plus years to find the perfect space. Location is actually the headache, not the operation.

  • bronwyn September 4, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    The Thai place around the corner for me closes every summer for 6 weeks. They are family owned and the whole family goes to Thailand to visit the rest of their family. I imagine that they budget for it all year. There is always a line out the door the day they reopen.

  • sarah September 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Hi! Looks like you had a fantastic trip. Now, about those nachos and that fabulous vintage/antique store in your photos. can you tell me where they were? Thanks so much!

  • Jenna September 14, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    the nachos are from the Fremont farmers market. That antique store (which I didn’t go in) was downtown near Pike Place on one of those hilly streets leading down to the market. Don’t know which street though, unfortunately!