Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Farewell, Waterloo.

June 2016 marks our presences in the K-W area for ten years, unfortunately, it also marks the end of an era.  Declining sales have forced me to make the difficult decision to close our doors.  It is with great sadness that I'm announcing our last day of business will be Saturday, June 18th, 2016. 

Over the past ten years, our Waterloo store has been staffed by a great bunch of mothers, many of their children have grown up in the store.  Far from 'just' salesgirls, I know these women have been a great resource in the community, providing wonderful assistance to new mothers in terms of offering breastfeeding support and general parenting advice.

The unfortunate reality of our situation is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to compete as a brick & mortar business in the world of natural parenting products.  14 years ago, when I started this business, I was filling a need in the community.  I started the business because I thought other parents like myself would find it easier to buy to natural parenting products in person, rather than online.  At the time, being able to see products in person, and in the case of carriers, learn how to use them properly, trumped the convenience of online shopping, which was still in its infancy.

Over the past few years, we've noticed a trend whereby despite the same number of people coming into the store to learn about the products we sell, our sales have steadily declined. This trend picked up steam over the past year as we had to raise prices to compensate for the weak Canadian dollar, making it harder to compete with WAHMs who enjoy a lower overhead, and big box online vendors, who have the volume to justify slimmer margins.  

As sad as I am about making this decision, the store's closure will bring with it a sense of relief.  I think when people consider an independent business, they forget there's a real live person behind it, usually just one.  Dealing with declining sales (and mounting debt) has crept into every second of my life, it's been tough being the only person to shoulder the stress.  I did not start this business to become rich, I started it as a means to share my passion for natural parenting products with other parents, and to carve out a career that allowed me to contribute to our family's finances, and spend time with our children.  I am proud that I managed to foster a work environment that allowed other mothers to do the same, and I know that they are just as gutted as I am about the situation, but they support my decision.  

I have no plans to close our Ottawa location, but I am slowly adapting its inventory to meet the community's needs.  We have been increasing our gift and toy selection, and I am planning on extending our hours so that we can catch the after work crowd.  I have resisted changing the nature of the store for a long time, but the reality is that we need to sell what people want to buy, and if I want to keep our doors open in Ottawa, I need to adapt to the market.  

Effective immediately, all regularly priced inventory in Waterloo (excluding Padraigs) is marked down 25%.  Clearance prices are not applicable to previous purchases, and all sales are final.  If you have an outstanding gift card, I encourage you to use it ASAP.  Once the store is closed, you will be able to use them online, but shopping in person will save you the cost of S&H.

If you are a K-W area parent, I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this post with friends who are in the market for cloth diapers, carriers, or breastfeeding essentials.  My husband and I will be travelling to Waterloo to pack everything up and bring it back to Ottawa on June 19th - the lighter our load, the easier our job. I would also encourage you to stop by the store, and let the ladies who work there know how much they'll be missed. There were tears when I broke the news to them, and I'm sure there will be many more tears before our doors close permanently.  I know they formed close friendships with each other, and many of our customers.  I feel fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with such a great group of women, I will truly miss them.

Lastly, if there is a local store you enjoy, please make a point to shop there.  I know a lot of businesses in the K-W are are struggling right now due to the construction of the LRT.  Don't forget to show them your love, every purchase counts.