From June 14, 1996 until June 30, 1999 I had a greeting card store in Glens Falls, NY that was only open on weekends. Most of the greeting cards sold for 50¢ each. I had a few better ones that were 75¢+.
I had a job that allowed me to work a four-day work week. I wanted to be conservative and not quit my job until the business got better, so decided to only be open on Fridays and Saturdays. I was stubborn enough to refuse to work on Sunday - as I needed one day to worship and rest.
The store ended up being in three different locations over the three years. I was at the Mount Royal Shopping Plaza in Queensbury from June 14, 1996 until December 31, 1996. (The rent was too high for my weekend store!) I then moved into downtown Glens Falls at 21 Ridge Street from January 1, 1997 until July 31, 1997, (the building was sold to someone who wanted to remodel the store into a restaurant.) and finally I was at (13) 9 Ridge Street from August 1, 1997 until the store closed on June 30, 1999.
These views were taken inside the Mt. Royal store in late 1996. You can see there are not only greeting cards, but also the post card racks from my previous business ventures, antique post cards on card tables in the foreground and also sports cards that were on consignment. I tried nearly every type of card — since the store was called AVIS CARDS.
The interesting thing about being at 21 Ridge Street, in downtown Glens Falls, was being attached to a coffee house. My back door was open on Fridays and Saturdays and the customers from the Back Door Cafe could come in and buy a card and write it out while eating in the back. Most aspects of that location were most enjoyable.
This was a view of the front room of 9 Ridge Street. The store had two separate rooms which made security a bit harder. Fortunately most of my products were low priced, but I still had a little shoplifting in my small store. The customer base continued to increase and getting to know the customers was the highlight of the business.
From June of 1997 through June of 1999, I hired a friend, Donald Carlson, to run the store on Thursdays. The sales increased greatly, and I thought the business might be successful.
Probably my downfall was that I had no savings before starting the business. The expenses at the first location were enormous. I mostly financed the debt by credit cards, and thoroughly enjoyed picking out new greeting cards - to my downfall, as I had a larger inventory than I needed. While Don only worked one day per week, the insurances that were required probably added an additional 50% to the cost of his employment. I had gotten into too much debt, and I couldn't see any easy way out; other than closing the store.
Before closing the physical store, I started to sell uncirculated State Quarters in the store. There were a few customers who wanted me to continue to sell them new issues as they were available. I continued to do that through December 2003 and discontinued due to the time that I anticipated spending on the revival meetings in 2004.
In mid 2009, I was living in Chicago, IL and felt that the Lord Jesus was leading me to attempt this type of business again in that location. With storefront rents in the multiple thousands of dollars per month, I was amazed to find a very small area for rent in a condominium lobby at 1400 N. Lake Shore Drive. This store was no larger than a large bedroom, but I was willing to "try again," based on what I learned during 1996-1999. There were major challenges that I did not anticipate - primarily the lack of access to non-residents of the building. While the building lobby was open to the public, more than 90% of the people who walked by the store were residents of the building, and they were generally in their mid-30's; not the typical age for greeting card customers. No signage on the outside of the building was allowed, so it was very hard for others (not in the building) to even know I existed. I had 5,000 post cards printed and gave them to other buildings in the neighborhood plus mailing the cards to 500 potential customers in the neighborhood, but to no avail. . . .
After just two months (August 15th - October 15th), it was easy to determine that my sales were not improving and the taxes, store initiation fees, etc. were far more than I anticipated. As illogical as it sounds, God seemed to be telling me that I would do better back in Glens Falls, NY than in downtown Chicago. At the end of October 2009, I traveled back to Glens Falls, NY to see if any storefronts were available. A friend in the area had told me that my same location from 1997-1999 was open and my preference was to be in the exact same spot as then.
I decided to make a quick move before winter set in. I knew that I would lose most of the 2009 Christmas sales, but didn't want to pay the expenses for another six months in Chicago, knowing more large fees would be due early in 2010. One unanticipated expense was the breaking of my lease at the apartment house that I was living in, but God continued to provide.
The friend from the Glens Falls area was willing to drive a U-Haul type truck, and flew over to Chicago and drove the truck back (Containing both the store fixtures/inventory plus everything in my apartment). God also provided with another friend that paid for all of the gas for both the car and the rental truck for the 900 mile journey. (Awesome!) The store closed in Chicago on November 28, 2009 and opened back at 9 Ridge Street in Glens Falls, NY on December 15, 2009. That has to be one of the quickest and longest moves for a business!Since December 2009, business has been slow. It has been a real challenge keeping up with the rent, but I kept 'at it' because nearly every month the total sales were a little higher than the month before. This continued through 2011, then sales started to decline in 2012. I kept running the store and watching the debts increase - mostly because God had not told me to do anything else. In July 2013, I felt the Lord was leading me to another project that would serve Him. I thought that I would close the store on December 31st, 2013 and begin the new project after the Christmas season. About July 31st, I felt the Lord was telling me that "sooner is better than later," so decided to close the store on October 16th, which was about the 1,000th day that the store was open in Glens Falls in this period (2009-2013). I know that I'll miss the customers, but am looking forward to the next mission that He has planned for me. . .