Friday, December 06, 2013

Bloom & Bee Swanky Brick and Mortar Store is Closing!

Bloom & Bee Swanky
Dear Friends, Customers, & Supporters of Bloom & Bee Swanky,
I'm Amy Bradshaw, Proprietor. Many of you already know me well from shopping in my store over the last 8 years. This letter is a heartfelt and bittersweet one for me to write. I know it is long, but I hope you will read it and share this news with your friends.
I'm writing to let you know that December 21, 2013, or thereabouts, will be Bloom & Bee Swanky's last day of business as a brick and mortar retail store. I know! I'm surprised, too. Sharing this news of store closing with you, and more importantly, WHY we've decided to wrap up this incarnation of our business vision is really important to me.
Can I tell you a story?
Thirteen years ago, I began my full-time career in retail. I did my first booth at a flea market while I was still in college. I then did numerous shows and at one point had 5 antique booths simultaneously across 3 cities in Texas. I also worked in a store, and I learned the beloved business of vintage retail from my then employer Dolly Dameron Scott of Shabby Tiques, which was followed by a successful full time e-commerce site
Eight years ago November 1st, I opened the doors to Bloom & Bee Swanky, the last 6 years being in Downtown Waco. This shop, which so many of you have come to know and love, has been the physical embodiment of my taste, my way of seeing the world, my love affair with all things timeworn, and my best creative work to date. It's inside the walls of this store that I learned the art of 21st-century-shopkeeping with a vintage point of view. Inside the walls of this store, I created a community of people who share my love for all things vintage, including a team of phenomenal swanky shop girls. Inside the walls of this store, my husband Matt (who many of you also know) and I put in many long hours together, taking care of our customers, building our dream, and making sure you got to experience it the way we envisioned it.
The past few years of maturing as a retail boutique owner, for me, have been both sweet and challenging. As Matt and I round the corner toward forty (I know!), we are finding our attention being drawn to other aspects of our life together. We have a strong desire to start a family (we've been married for almost 15 years now). We want to travel together and do humanitarian work. And quite simply, we'd like more personal time, together in our home, with our extended family, close friends and time to make deeper relationships with our church family.
Together with Matt, I have made the decision to transform my retail vision into a new form. I have always felt "called" to do deeply creative work, to get my hands dirty, to find and share the beauty in old things. I will NEVER stop appreciating vintage things.
But for me, the new vision I'm holding in my heart involves closing the doors of this store. Our lease is up and we know this is the right course of action.
On one hand, closing the store is sad. We will surely miss the daily conversations with so many of our regular customers, and the special visits from out of town folks who make it a point to stop in to Bloom & Bee Swanky on their way through Waco. We will miss unpacking battered cardboard boxes of wonderful goods from our travels and delivered to the store on pallets. We will miss discovering the independent artists, designers, and makers whose amazing creations we've loved showcasing through the years. Many of those talents are now best bee friends and part of our forever bee swanky family (you know who you are).   We will miss the over-the-top holiday events, when we filled the store with Live Christmas music and no one could leave without a piece of tinsel trailing from their shoe or glitter stuck in their hair.
Yet, even though we will miss all of these special people and things, the truth is, we see Bloom & Bee Swanky as a Downtown Waco success story.
As any small business owner knows (especially those who have owned an independent brick and mortar retail store), retail isn't the easiest vocation on earth! And let's be honest: we know the U.S. economy isn't what it once was. Our customers feel the changes just like customers do anywhere. But despite all of this, YOU -- our customers, our friends, our staff (we've proudly employed over a dozen hardworking people over the years), our downtown associations and civic organizations, our neighbors, our family (blood and chosen), and our Waco community -- have made it easy for us to share this beautiful vision with you for the past 8 years. Now it's time to open up space in our lives for a new calling. A fresh vision. A new take on the work we feel called to do.
Once our doors are closed, Matt and I are looking forward to the following from this 24/7 retail career: the lifestyle shift we've been craving for a good while, more time together (right now, Sunday is the only day of the week we have together and we're usually making and painting furniture or making deliveries!), attending our nieces and nephews activities, becoming even more active as first responders and taking some humanitarian trips (we have some already planned and we just can't wait).
Personally, I see and feel so much divine timing around me right now. As I have quietly and privately started the behind-the-scenes work of wrapping up accounts and sharing this news with my staff and vendors, all of the sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, I've been presented with some pretty awesome opportunities that I never saw coming. Opportunities to serve and create. Opportunities to grow. Opportunities to be involved in our community in a new way.
Now rest assured, the VISION and the EXPERIENCE of Bloom & Bee Swanky are not completely going away. I always have my eye on the retail landscape, and I see that the national trend in vintage retail is toward "occasional stores" -- special events where retailers pop up with the very best assortment of their wares you can imagine during special times of year. (Think: barn sales, shows, fairs, holiday bazaars, etc.) I will also be conducting estate sales on occasion and have 2 already scheduled in the VERY near future.
I invite you to stay on the Bloom & Bee Swanky email list so I can connect with you and let you know where and when you can get your next vintage fix.
For Now, bee sure to stop by the store for some huge savings. We are already starting to sell things at 20% off and everything will go!!!
If there is one thing I really want you to hear, it's this: I'm not going anywhere. The store is closing, but I'm not leaving this town that I love. I'm here and you can bet you'll see me pop up somewhere else in a glimmer. I can't say too much yet about my next big project, but you better believe it'll be something lovely.
Okay, actually, there are two things I really want you to hear, and the second one's this: a HUGE thank you, from the bottom of my heart. For all you've done. For how you've encouraged and supported me and this store. I am blessed! I couldn't have done it without each and everyone of my incredible and might I say the most talented staff in Waco (especially Debi and Beverly the longest running Swanky Girls and now Laci who will bee sticking it out with me to the last day), my family and YOU!
You have made owning Bloom & Bee Swanky one of the very best experiences of my life.
And there's more to come . . .
Love, Hugs, & Endless Appreciation,
Amy Bradshaw
til 7:00 pm weather permitting
Stop in for warm sips and nibbles and
20% off throughout the store!!!