Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thank You Birthday Buddy!

Years ago on the All About Beads forum we started exchanging birthday gifts with each other.  This past year, Wendy (who took over the task of keeping this organized for me a few years back), also brought the offer to Facebook.  I’m not sure how many peeps ended up signing up, but I am hoping more of you have been able to enjoy this wonderful event. 

The idea is that you get a little bit of information about your Birthday Buddy and then you find something (or things) you think they might like and secretly send it to them by their birthday.  It is always so wonderful to get a gift from someone you may or may not really know but you do know they put some thought into picking something out to gift to you.

I know I love sending my Birthday Buddy a gift just as much as I love receiving mine!

Anywho, my B4B gift arrived and it is amazing!

  • I got a beautiful box filled with all kinds of wonderfulness!
  • Godiva Truffles
  • A piece of gorgeous slinky, silky fabric
  • A beautiful  embroidered and sequined zippered bag with some lovely deep purply-blue pearls in it.
  • A piece of beeswax.
  • Dragonfly stickers and rub-ons
  • An Almond Meltaway bar called Seroogy's (a hint?)
  • A little purple felted and beaded star from an Alpaca Ranch in Wisconsin (another hint?)
    It came on a card with a picture of cute little Alpaca that says:
    Fiber Donor: Timateo
    A loner, gentle and mellow.  Can often be found grazing at the far side of the pasture.   
  • A purple satin bag with a lovely tassel and a dragonfly button inside.
  • Two kinds of loose leaf tea…one of them smells a little chocolately!
  • A little purple unicorn (sooo cute!).  I think I'm going to put him in my car so I can see him every day!
  • A gorgeous mermaid hanging ornament that is going on my wall today!
  • A glass tile with a dragonfly on it.  Putting this one in my kitchen by the sink.
  • Some Tila beads (my poor buddy said in the card that he/she struggled with what to buy for a bead store owner.  But please know, I love any bead whether I already own them or not!)
  • A plastic compartment box with some blown and lampwork beads in it. They are so beautiful...maybe they'll go in a charm bracelet!
  • A pretty little bottle filled with sparkly crystals.  What beader doesn't love a bottle filled with crystals!
  • Two sweet little boxes that are going in one of the cubbies in my desk that has more little wee boxes. (what is it about tiny boxes that makes me so happy?)
  • And a beautiful card wishing me a Happy Birthday!

Well, birthday buddy…let me tell you, you have most certainly made my day extra special!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your attention and your generosity with this gift.  I can feel the love!
And I cannot wait to find out who you are!  In the meantime, huge virtual hugs from me!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Testing out PayPal

We're asked often if we accept PayPal as a form of payment for orders.  The answer has always been YES!  But our shopping cart didn't offer a good feature for using it.  Because we have a retail store as well as do shows often it is near impossible to keep the stock on the website accurately updated.
If we applied the "Pay with PayPal" feature that our cart did offer it would link people directly to PayPal as soon as they finalized their orders.  Not good if something was out of stock!

We've decided to give it a try our way.  Our customers can now select PayPal from the drop-down menu of payment options and then after we've filled their order and adjusted the invoice we'll send them a message with a link to PayPal.  Hoping it works out well for everyone who has been wanting to use this payment option!

And as a bonus, we've decided to draw names, one per week over the next three weeks, for anyone who uses this payment option and gift them with a $50 gift certificate!!

Good luck to those of you who participate!  Please visit our website to participate!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Where’d you come up with that name?

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question over the past 26 years of being in business.  And sometimes I wish I had a reply that started with. “After much thought….”  LOL

We opened our store with Shawn’s Mom, Lynn, in 1986.  She had always wanted to own a gift boutique, but didn’t have much experience with retail sales on that level.  I had tons.  So she offered to loan me $1200 and I could rent some space in the shop to sell beads.  We found a cute little house in downtown Cotati that was perfect for our needs!  It was just ½ a block off the main street, had a working kitchen, a fenced in backyard and a large back room so I could keep my kids with me during the day instead of putting them into daycare.  The front had a large room when you walked in.  This is where Lynn set up her shop, and then a small room off to the side where I set up my bead store!

Here is an image of the old shop.  It's a frame shop now.

But before we got to that point we had to come up with a business name.  Talk about a near impossible task!  We of course wanted something catchy and fun but nothing that would be too specific (although, now it would be nice to have the word beads in my official business name).  We read every album title we both owned, Lynn really wanted to name the store “Feelin’ Groovy” after the song made famous by Simon & Garfunkel.  While I loved the song, I thought the name might deter a few people from coming in to see what we were about.  The night before the final date that our business license needed to be submitted so we could open on schedule we all stayed up late tossing about names in the hopes that something would stick.  I was exhausted and had gotten to that silly place where you just giggle over nothing.  As Lynn said words, Shawn would look them up in a Thesaurus to see if anything sounded good.  Lynn said “Fanciful” and one of the words was “Whimsical”.  I tried to talk like Elmer Fudd (remember I was exhausted!  LOL) and said, “Out On A Whim”  playing off the title of Shirley MacLaine’s book titled Out On A Limb.  After days and days of us tossing about words, phrases, names we all got silent for a moment and Lynn proclaimed, “THAT’S IT!  OUT ON A WHIM!”  And so the business name was born.  We were both going into business on a whim, so it seemed a perfect fit!

Sadly, just 1 ½ years into it Lynn passed away suddenly.  I am happy she got to experience her dream of owning her own eclectic gift shop.  I just wish it had been for much longer!

I kept the bead store open and grew to take over both of the rooms in the front of the little house and then eventually when my kids all started school we moved across the street to the retail location we’ve been in now for 18+ years. 

Here's an image of the shop when we first moved across the street to the location we're still in now.

When it came time to start our website, I searched for Out On A Whim as a URL but it had already been taken by a novelty shop from Alabama.  So we added beads to the name and was born!

We’ve spent a lot of time trying to brand the URL because it is not easy having two business names, but for the most part folks are able to find us!
So, that’s the story of how we got our business name!  And I love that walk down memory lane remembering Lynn and how she helped us get started!