Helen and I had been unhappy at our jobs for sometime and adding to that the stress of running an online business which, when times are good is a full time job in and of itself,  life was not like a “box of chocolates” these past few months. During the summer, we seriously considered giving up Fragile Earth Stuffed Animals in an attempt to maintain our sanity and peace of mind.

During a lengthy car ride, we talked about what the future of the store should be. And we realized it was crazy to give up the part of our lives that we really enjoyed to spend 9 hours a day doing things we hated. So we started making plans to leave behind the security of the paying jobs. We made cuts to the household budget and put aside as much each month as we could, building a cushion to cover the bills for a few months.

We laughingly set the date of April 29, 2011 as the day by which we would be free of corporate life. (I remember watching the wedding of Princess Di & Prince Charles back in 1981 and I wanted to watch their son’s wedding so we chose that date.) However, Helen’s employer had other ideas. In February of this year, he let Helen know he would be letting her go because he couldn’t afford her salary. They agreed that she would work through the end of March, which meant I needed to let my employers know that I would be quitting around the middle of March, allowing two weeks notice. We had previously agreed that as long as we could get a store site chosen, we would leave our jobs on the same day.

Store #1

When we first discussed saving our money towards “that day”, the day was far in the future because we thought rent would be so expensive. Store #1  showed us that we actually could afford the rent, which amped the discussions A LOT! I was all set to leave my job right then and there but Helen, being the more rational of the partners,  realized we might want a little more in the coffers before we took the big step. That was in December.

So we looked carefully at this store through the windows, never making a call to see the inside because it wasn’t quite time yet, and started making lists. Pros and Cons about this storefront; what we would change; what our ideal store would look like.

On the Pro side, the rent was very affordable. On the Cons, the square footage of the store was a little too small for us and the location was not great. It is in a nice town, behind the race track, but it doesn’t get much foot traffic at all. There is a bank and a dentist and a convenience store in this little “professional plaza”, but people don’t walk by on a whim.  In the end, the Cons won out but we always had this store in the back of our mind as a last resort possibility.  I will always remember this store fondly as the one helped us understand it could all be more than just a pipe-dream.

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