Saturday, September 02, 2006

Labor Day Blues

It is a rainy Labor Day weekend and business couldn't be slower. This is quite normal for a shop in a residential neighborhood like Park Slope in late August, and we are in good company with the other businesses in the area, though many are, wisely, closed for vacation.

But when things are slow like this, my mind tends to drift toward doomsday scenarios. I entertain my doubts a little, knowing that a little doubt can be healthy, and having faith that soon enough things will pick up again. And since I imagine most business owners experience these doubts from time to time, I decided to blog about where my mind is at today.

It is said that an idle mind is the devil's workshop, and so I try to stay occupied. I polish some jewelry and change some displays. I work on writing new text for ads and the website. I troll magazines and blogs for inspiration.

But instead of filling me with confidence, these attempts only bring more doubt. The magazines and blogs inspire only insecurity. The writing sounds weak and uncertain. The choices I make rearranging pieces seem like bad ideas. I feel like everyone is more clever than me, every business is more successful than ours.

And then I wonder, why aren't people coming in? Is there something we're doing wrong? Maybe people don't like what we offer for sale. Or maybe they come in and because nothing is familiar, nothing is "famous" from being in a flashy magazine or in higher-profile stores, they walk back out. I always thought that having a shop full of things you can't find everywhere else is a good idea. But maybe not. Maybe people want what they know and aren't as willing to take a chance buying something "unproven." Are we barking up the wrong tree?

Jae, naturally, disagrees with my doubt-full thoughts. He reminds me that it is pouring rain outside and everyone is on vacation. And he says it's the shops that are doing something different that make it big. I reply that, on the contrary, it seems to me it's the mainstream players who make it big. He says nothing, understanding that there's no reasoning with me on a day like this.

And so it goes. I spray some nice citrusy room fragrance around the shop and fluff up the stuffed animals. I file away some sales receipts. I try to imbue all my actions with good energy and positive thoughts.

Then I take a step back and realize that as slow as August has been, and despite the fact that we were closed for a week earlier in the month, we brought in 2.5x more this August than we did last August. And what is that? That is growth. That is progress. That is success. That is maybe even encouraging.

So doubts may come and doubts may go, and that's just fine. I do my best to ride out the tough times and enjoy the good times. Because at the end of the day, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best job I've ever had, the job that utilizes more of my aptitudes and skills than any other before, the job that brings me (on most days!) the greatest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. And that certainly has to count for something. Does it mean Greenjeans will become the wildly successful international sensation I sometimes dream for it to be? Who knows. But so long as we stick to our sense of what is right, what is beautiful, and what is true, I think we’ll be just fine. I can go ahead and doubt that if I want to, but for now I think I’ll go with it!

Image found at


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy, sorry to hear you are feeling blue. its only been about ten years since i have seen you but wanted to say hi. i was looking for contact info for my friend matt eskucke and found your site. I'll be in new york in a couple of weeks for a craft show at lincoln center come by and say hi if you are in the area. this is what i have been up to . hope everything is going well and maybe see you soon. Rob Dworkin

shawn said...

I know how you feel - our business has gone through its draught as well, and it's hard to not doubt, sometimes... Keep your head up! You guys are doing so much better than last year (2.5 is a lot!), and the slow traffic doesn't mean much in such a yucky weather.

We clean the office when we feel that things aren't going so well. My mom says that's a good for feng shui as well, but mostly, it makes me feel better. I don't spray any citrus fragrance though.