Sunday, November 06, 2005

open for business

The Grand Opening party for Habitat Shoe Store was this past Friday, but we officially opened our doors on Tuesday (Nov. 1st), so we could have a few days of helping customers under our belts before the November First Friday when potentially hundreds of people could be in the store. Well, the first week of business for Habitat has far exceeded any expectations John and I had. We really didn't have a lot of expectations for the first week because we hadn't done veyr much advertising. We sent out a postcard announcing our opening and were fortunate to have an article in the paper on Thursday (which brought in a surprising amount of people!), but other than that the only way people would know about us would be hearing about us by word-of-mouth, or walking by the store.

It has been such a fun week! It's so exciting to see a dream we've been pursuing for a long time finally realized! Frequently this past week when walking around the store, I caught myself wondering if I was still living in a dream. It's definitely hard to believe that the store is finally open, and yet at the same time, John and I feel like we've been selling shoes for awhile now. We constantly talk about what shoes people are and are not buying and how we've been surprised at the hottest sellers so far (I know it's only been 5 days, but it's still fun to talk about). When I'm not at the store I call John to find out what shoes he's sold that day and to whom.

Now, I know I've said this several times already, but honestly, there is no way we could've done this without the help of our friends and family. Our friends have watched Margot more hours than I could count, cooked dinners for us, cleaned our store bathrooms (that had been severely abused by construction workers!), wielded dangerous machinery to turn our John Malcovich-sized door to the back storage room into one we could step through without bending ourselves in half, unpacked many, many boxes of shoes, designed our grand opening postcard, put furniture and fixtures together, installed our point-of-sale system, created window displays and many other things I'm forgetting at the moment. Not to mention all the help we received on Friday night when we had hundreds of customers in the store.

Friday night was completely insane. I really wanted to have one of our friends who was helping greet count the number of people who came in the store that night, but I totally spaced asking anyone. I'm horrible at estimating things like that, but I'd say it was at least 300 people. My husband and his brother think it was closer to 500, but since the McClain family is known to exaggerate, I'm cutting that number in half and throwing in a few extra for good measure. However many people were there, it was a lot. Although I didn't get to hear people's reactions when they were entering and leaving the store (since I was busy running back and forth retrieving shoes and ringing up customers - yeah!), our friends who were helping greet customers told us what they heard after we closed. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Have you been to the new shoe store? It's like the shoes are art."

And the woman who gasped enthusiastically after getting just one foot in the door, "Ohhh THIS is the most happenin' place down here!"

So enough words, here are some photos of Habitat...

The space went from this (taken shortly after the October First Friday):

To this (taken one week before the store opened):

To this (taken the night before the Grand Opening party):

The front of Habitat:

The wall of shoe art:

Where customers can hang out:

The clothing section (with super cool denim rack designed by Carl from Kojo in Lawrence):

And where we ring people up (the absolutely ADORABLE baby shoes distract from the brown paper which must remain on the windows so people walking outside cannot see all the shoe inventory stashed behind that divider that still needs to be painted):

So enough bragging about our new "baby". Stop by and see us when you get a chance. For those of you who can't stop by, we'll (hopefully) have the website up very soon! Thanks again to all of you who helped make this happen for us!