We’ve given you the basics of our move. The low-down on dates, locations and re-opening are all posted, but you’re here because you wanted more information. Here’s the long story:
Last year provided an opportunity for reflection and re-thinking. Now we’re re-setting. I’ve needed to make some difficult decisions, but I’m excited about where we’re headed.
Fenceline Fabrics has never been a financially sustainable business.
Very shortly after I moved my fabric business out of my home into our wonderfully sunny building, A Thrifty Notion was born and its success has made it possible to run Fenceline at a loss.There have always been glimpses of a financial turn-around, but we could never quite get it to work.In January of 2020, I had quietly decided that it would be our last year.We’d be shutting down if we couldn’t turn a profit for the year.As you know, by March, everything had changed.We closed down for Covid and only did online sales.Turns out, the time when our in-person shop was closed for shutdown was our most profitable ever.
I love the community that happens when talking in person with people about their projects. I love how it feels to be with other people who love textiles as much as I do. I love our sunny, plant-filled, happy space! I’ve been operating Fenceline Fabrics as a regular retail shop with the local customer as our focus and the pretty boutique dream front and center. This has been a purely emotional and counter-productive strategy because 90% of our business comes from online sales. I need to start operating in that reality or we won’t make it.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to purchase a small warehouse in Ogden, Kansas (just 10 miles west of our current location).I immediately moved A Thrifty Notion out of our crowded Manhattan building and into the warehouse because that little business wanted to grow!It’s been in Ogden for a year now, and has settled into a nice rhythm.
We’re moving Fenceline into the warehouse because we have the space for it. I can run both businesses out of the warehouse for a third of the cost of our current Fenceline rent. (I’d like to briefly take a tangent here to say that our current landlord has been wonderful to work with and has been nothing but supportive. The rent is very reasonable for this market, but the building was designed as office space and we forced our retail business into that design.)
We’re going to start operating as a primarily online business.We won’t have a retail space.We will have a warehouse space.The lighting isn’t great, the building is utilitarian and the layout is practical - not pretty.
As a courtesy to our local customers, we will be open to the public on Saturdays beginning October 2, 2021.
This will enable me to give my employees fully flexible schedules so they can work around their personal lives instead of making their personal lives work around their job. All of us can leave for the day when the work is done.We won’t have to stick around on the chance a customer might walk in.We can take a day off for a sick child or if finals are overwhelming and it’s just fine that no one is at the shop. We have the option to come in during the evening if need be to get the work done or just leave it for the next day.
Finally, I want to address the whole “Ogden” thing.If you’re local, you know that the little town of Ogden has a reputation for high rates of crime, addiction and dysfunction.It is either completely overlooked or outright mocked.Folks in Manhattan treat it as a bit of a joke. The thing is, real people live there.Kids who grow up there know exactly what people in Manhattan think of them.It’s not a joke to them.
Our warehouse is located at the edge of Ogden and it’s been peaceful since we moved in.We are right next to the boundary of Ft. Riley and have nothing but prairie grass to the west of us.We could easily fly under the radar and run our internet business while having little to do with the community.Instead, we’re building relationships with people who want to heal and build good things here.We know that gentrification is destructive to existing communities and have no desire to come in and make fast, drastic changes - not that we have the means to anyway…We are quietly making slow improvements to our own space and doing what we can to support others in Ogden doing the same.We’re here to be good neighbors and support healthy things happening in this community.
Our time in the Manhattan building wasn’t wasted.We learned a great deal and A Thrifty Notion never would have existed without it.It was a valuable season in my journey as an entrepreneur and I don’t regret it.I appreciate all of you who’ve supported us at the local level and I hope you can make it out to Ogden sometime to shop with us again. It's just a 10 minute drive!
❤️ Much love and gratitude,
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