Thank you for the outpouring of support!
Hey Tselaine Fans!
This is Elaine. It’s week 6 (?) of the store shut down. It’s all kind of a blur, and we are losing track of time.
I’m sheltering in place in California, and I don’t know when I’m getting back to Philly to my tiny little boutique. My friends refer to it as the clubhouse. We joke that the store is the “Cheers” of retail. We know your name, your dog’s name, and we’ve seen you through your dating years, the engagement, the wedding, and now the children. My business was my everything for many years. Then, the husband and child came along. It is still very much a part of my identity, but it is now a shared identity along with being a wife and mom. I escape my suburban life for short bouts and go live la vie boheme to help run the store during the kid’s school breaks and let the store manager, Laura, go on much deserved vacations.
Four years ago, hubs and I bought a 1970’s colonial revival fixer upper. We fixed the kitchen and added an upstairs laundry room right when we moved in. The rest is a work in progress. We’ve tried not to kill all the trees and shrubs and landscaping. Not doing so well on that! I have grand dreams of redoing the dining room. Fancy wallpaper. Built in wall storage with a wet bar and drinks fridge. But, instead, we have a mismatched large dining room table alongside my old Philadelphia dining room table as a buffet.
The old table is not just a dining room table. It moved from Illinois with me to my first apartment in the Claridge Rittenhouse Square. I started my business sitting there. I strung pearls and played with gemstones on it for years. It moved from the Rittenhouse apartment to the first Old City apartment then the work/live space on 3rd Street near Betsy Ross’s house. Then, after I got married, I moved it to our San Jose 850 square foot “Little Blue” house where there was no room for it. Now, it resides in the dining room of our Mountain View home. It’s dented. Scratched. It lists to one side. But, I throw a tablecloth on it and use it. It seats an extra 6 to 8 people when necessary. Many Easter jelly bean counts and Halloween dinners have taken place on it.
Now, twenty years after starting my business, that old table is back to being my command center. This time around, I am figuring out how to run an online business. I used to find the website sales to be distasteful. The store is my brain dumped out into a jumble of cute, quirky, elegant, wacky curation of goods. Over the years, Laura and the staff have edited the collection with their vantage points. But, the point was to let you into our tiny world for a little bit and to make people happy. I liked the experience to be in person. Online, we have a white walled sanitized version of our store. You don’t see the tiny Where’s Waldo that the staff hide around the store for each other to find. The wagging tail of the weiner dog clock isn’t beckoning you to buy it. We don’t hear your stories. We don’t see your dog ditch you at the door and head right for the treats in the back. We miss that.
But, I realize that I was being myopic. The world has changed. Now, it has forever been altered by Covid19. Retail was already difficult and then the state mandated everything non-essential be shut down. I did not want this to be the way it all ended. So, we had to pivot. After a day of despair and crying, I went back to the drawing board, and we went full force to figuring out online sales, touchless curbside pickup, and efficient shipping methodology. And, we did it. Build it, and they will come. Tears came to my eyes when I saw the email notifications for orders. A woman that I met 25 years ago at a college internship placed an order. A childhood friend who I haven’t seen since I was 8 placed an order. The woman who still wears the wedding pearls that she bought from me two decades ago placed a few orders. Every day, it was the same. Every era of my life was represented by the outpouring of support that I saw. Even though our worlds had shrunk to our own neighborhoods, it actually had expanded. Orders from Canada. Minnesota. An order going to Ireland and states that I have yet to visit. It was amazing. This was not how it was going to end. It was just the beginning. Elaine rebooted. Version 20.3.
So, we want to say THANK YOU for your support during this globally difficult time. We know everyone is affected by the virus in their own way, and we are grateful that you allow us to be a part of your life.