Speaking out, by Rachel Behling of Auburn Vintage
As another summer comes to a close, I can safely say that this has been a year of challenges for my darling little shop.
On the first day of January, I found an envelope under the door with a letter from the Region of Waterloo detailing the construction that would occur from April- November 2017. This was the beginning of a very interesting journey for me as both a business owner and member of the community.
I decided that I would work hard on my website- something I personally find challenging- as I am far more of a 'face-to face' businessperson that an online seller. I diligently built up my social media platforms, added products to my website and remained positive and upbeat that this little 'distraction' wouldn't get me down. I have had private parties, courses and special sales events in the store and participated in selling events outside the store. It still isn't enough.
As 'phase 3' of the construction in Conestogo is set to begin within the next few weeks- I find myself completely troubled for my business and the future of Auburn. Days have gone by and I am in the store alone; the lovely tinkling of the vintage door bell never dancing away like it once did. Much like the story of Tinkerbell and if you don't believe in fairies....they'll die...this is how I feel about what construction can do to small business. And I am starting not to believe.
I never truly understood what people were talking about when they discussed how construction killed busines. I often got frustrated and annoyed by the negative attitudes and that if they just stopped complaining- it would get better. When faced with the challenges of this construction, I was determined not to be one of the annoying glass-half-empty grumpies...I was going to be just fine. I have a tendency to accept things and fade out into the woodwork without making a fuss.
The truth is: I am not fine. I am scared and worried about the future for me and my store. I hold it in through the day, and at night try to think up other methods of making my month's rent...forget about paying myself. I have been told how irritating store owners can be to the crews who run the construction sites with their negavity- and only at the very beginning of this process did I receive a visit from the Regional representatives. The fact is: They still get a paycheque at the end of the day- they really don't care what happens to me. There has been no evidence whatsoever that our stores matter to the people who make the decisions to close roads for months and months on end.
What can I do? Come to work each day and do the best I can to sell the best quality and service to my dedicated, amazing clients- most of whom I now consider dear friends. Another option is to share this experience in the best way I know possible- through the power of words- a method of sharing my experience and to spread the word that this process for making these decisions needs to change. I was never asked how this would affect me...I was told what was going to happen. Have I been compensated? Not one bit. Not even a "How can we help you?" from the Region. Again- a direct message that they don't care.
Having ranted long enough- I would like to say a big thank you to my dear Clients for their support, other businesses who have reached out with a kind word and deed, my incredibly kind Landlords who have offered words of encouragement and who also did not deserve this treatment and to my amazing friends and family who have believed in me and this dream of inspiring others and serving them in this little shop called Auburn.
Please share this with those you think may benefit by reading it. Sometimes it helps to speak out.
About the Author
Rachel Behling is the business owner of Auburn Vintage, a vintage clothing store located in the heart of Conestogo, Ontario, that offers unique and affordable vintage pieces. With an emphasis on client connection and careful research, Auburn offers you an exceptional service in a beautiful environment. A perfect place to come on a girl's day out or an afternoon of fun—we have something for the whole family.Auburn also offers private viewings and fashion shows to those choosing to make the experience even more fun. Groups of 20 can enjoy a fashion show and opportunity to shop with their closest friends. Learn more about Auburn Vintage at www.auburnvintageclothiers.com