We own Rescued Furnishings in St. Louis, MO. You can find us on Facebook or our website. We sell antique and vintage furniture and also do custom orders. We paint, stain, refinish, and re-purpose furniture and kitchen cabinets. Along with all of that we sell amazing paint products and hold DIY classes AND we are expanding our small business into wall finishes!
Getting into this business has opened a lot of doors and we have made amazing friends. The whole process has been so intimidating. I remember going to our first event in fall of 2013, St. Louis Vintage Market Days. It felt like everyone viewed each other as competition. Sadly, as time has passed I have learned that small business relations are not much different than navigating high school. I kind of get it in a way, it IS your livelihood. BUT, it is just a little too ugly for my taste. We can ALL succeed by focusing on the customer. Think about how many targets and walmarts there are. Think about Crate & Barrel, West Elm, Restoration Hardware….I mean it goes on and on. There are already THOUSANDS of stores that sell furniture. Our little tiny niche isn’t going to hurt them and it won’t hurt each other. There are literally millions of people that all need dozens of pieces of furniture. I promise. I can not say this enough….not only do small businesses need to support each other but you should celebrate each other’s successes. If your industry is doing well it is good for everyone.
First, I can’t paint for everyone! It’s impossible for me to physically find enough vintage items to be the only vintage boutique and I cant physically stock enough paint to be the only paint dealer. I can’t hold enough DIY classes to be the only DIY class holder. I can’t do it all. Don’t get me wrong..I have every intention of taking over the world and you can all feel free to buy paint, sign up for a DIY class, and purchase all our furniture RIGHT NOW (seriously, feel free). But, even with the greatest intentions, it just isn’t possible.
So instead of being ugly to each other, we can help each other! Think about it, we all do something at least a little different. We may use different products, we may strictly paint, we may do major re-purposing, we may do onsite or offsite, full service design, chippy paint finishes, modern gloss finishes…the list is endless. We all also have different styles and we may offer different quality. There is a market for everyone.
I have several companies that do similar things to us that I have referred people to. You shouldn’t believe that you can do it all and you shouldn’t waste time trying… but you should be able to have a good enough relationship with people in your industry that you can reach out to them for help or to send work to them or even collaborate with. The more people putting good quality items out there (Shades of Blue, Helen Nicole Designs are both in St. Louis) the better it is for us all.
There are people that give us all a bad name so I want to prop up the people that do things right! I am even having Red Door Furniture Company teach at our Christmas event which is probably technically one of my direct competitors. But here is the thing…cross marketing is good and even though we both do furniture it really is DIFFERENT styles. Her items are drop dead gorgeous but she has different specialties than we do and those should be celebrated. I have no qualms with her telling everyone there that day what she does and where she is located. It really is a good thing! Why do you think car dealerships and restaurants cluster together? Competition is GOOD. Good competition is BETTER!
Businesses that are ugly get a bad name….FAST.
I always want to do things to the best of our ability. We always want to make things right…everyone makes mistakes, even us. Things can happen, mistakes can happen, bad judgement calls can happen. But your intentions and how you handle those things go a long way. Moral of the story…don’t be a jerk.
What to do when other people are out to get you? Nothing. That’s what I do. There is nothing that you can do that will make you look good. If there is a bully, I can promise you that word travels fast among customers and businesses in shocking fashion so it will handle itself. Keep your head down and do not engage. I’m not saying you have to support everyone but don’t be afraid to reach out to people just because they are in your industry. I have reached out to the Magic Brush and Love Junk and they have both been WONDERFUL to me! You should like their pages and you will have a source of inspiration and encouragement! Having people around you is a good thing and friendly competition never hurt anyone!!
In the spirit of supporting each other, feel free to share this post if you found it helpful, inspirational or just feel like preaching with me!