As promised, I’m following up on our 2018 in review with some more detailed posts, so here’s a “where we are” update. Our big news last year was finding a new building to move our business into. Well, it’s a year later and we’re not nearly as far along as we hoped, but progress has been made and we’re learning a lot.
First, we found some of the history of the building! We got into a storage loft that had been painted shut since the 70s to find various seasonal displays stored away. Not in the best of shape, but still a cool find and let us piece together more of the history. Our tax records put our building as dating from 1930, but we have a suspicion it was built on the bones of a previous building on the same corner. The business in 1930 was Globman’s department store, a local chain started in Martinsville, VA (about 30 minutes away) by a Russian Jewish immigrant family. By the 70s they had outgrown the Boulevard, Eden location and moved to the then new Eden Mall. By 1973 our building was a Western Auto. We found some of their holiday displays, too.
As of this fall, we officially own the building. So that’s exciting! After going back and forth for a while with our landlord to try and find ways to fund fixing our roof, we worked out buying it from him instead. So yeah, it’s ours! Wonders and problems and all.
Here’s a look at the inside – our progress, our problems, and why we still love our new old building.
Hi guys! Thanks so much for sticking with us through a crazy year. As promised on our recent Facebook/Instagram post, here’s a quick run down on our past year! And I’ll go more in depth with pictures and other awesomeness soon.
Let’s start with The Good, shall we?
We’re still working on our awesome old building – which we are now the proud owners of!
We have two “sibling” businesses that we opened in support of our main business: Cynthia is running the Crooked Treehouse, a gift shop featuring our pagan/new age work, the work of other local artists, as well as crystals, candles, and other pretties. Nathaniel is launching The Olde Post Office Theater & Game Parlor, a black box theater, game space, space for classes, and general space to come and hang out.
We’re getting involved with our business neighborhood, The Boulevard, and we can tell the efforts are starting to be noticed.
We ran our first ever haunted house this past Halloween! Each night got progressively better, it brought in new friends and contacts, and helped more people know we’ve got things going on around here.
We made some absolutely amazing things! Our first ever major mascot cosplay commission, leather armor collaborations… We made stuff we are defintely proud of this year.
Lots of new contacts, new friends, new opportunities – some of which we can’t talk about yet, but I will definitely be better about sharing them when we can.
Now, The Bad…
This was not a good year for our show circuit. Starting off the year with what happened with JME/Steampunk World’s Faire putting one show at low attendance followed by a show not happening and being out that money… then being out other shows, parts of shows, or attendance due to weather, luck was not with us.
Oh god, the weather! Our rainiest Virginia Renaissance Faire ever (actually led to one day closing completely – check out our video of the river!), two hurricanes through North Carolina…
… And speaking of that, we still have not gotten our roof fixed. We’ve gotten quotes for it, but still working on that whole fundraising thing. The rain and wind were not kind to it, so we’re currently working out of about half of the building.
…And because of that, we have not yet been able to open the building to the public yet. Sorry guys!
Okay, the WTF is not nearly as specific, but it’s been an interesting year of good and bad working together in really strange ways.
For example, fighting with our roof and trying to figure out ways to get it fixed was part of how we ended up buying the building, which opens up all new opportunities for the next year.
Going to a tiny show that we did mostly as a filler to try and make up for ones we lost due to weather didn’t net a lot of sales… but it did open us up to a whole new potential part of our business that is now in development.
Not being able to open the gallery yet is part of what drove us to open the other related storefronts… which are starting to feed each other in a nice communal way.
So long story short, thank you everyone for their patience this year! We are hoping we’re about to be past a bad year hump, and we have some great plans coming for the next year!
Hello everyone! First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to our fundraiser for our new storefront! We have raise 21% of our goal. Not enough for the major repairs, but enough that next week we will be starting our major build out!
There are still a few hours to donate, so click here to help and get cool stuff!
What’s next for us? Next week is loads of lumber, so we can begin building the wall to separate our front gallery from our workshops, with new counters and new flooring for general awesomeness.
Over the last week, serious allegations came out against Jeff Mach and Jeff Mach Events, organizers of Wicked, Steampunk World’s Fair, and several other events in New Jersey. We have taken a few days to consider our response and see how the event company would handle the situation. Last night we received the official response from the new event CEO that Jeff will no longer be involved with any of their events or allowed to be at them.
We’ve been talking about it seriously here, so here is our response for you, our fans and fellow convention goers.
We will still be vending at this year’s Wicked Faire and Steampunk World’s Fair. These events are paid for well in advance and we can not afford as a small business to let that money be a wash or scramble to find another show at this point in time.
While we personally have never had any problems with Jeff or JME, we do not dismiss or disbelieve those who have. You have our support and we wish you had felt more comfortable to speak out sooner.
We will be watching to see how the new management handles this year and evaluating whether we will do these shows in the future.
Conventions, events, and faires are supposed to be places of fun and escape. We all try to watch out for each other, and we hate to see when something like this poisons any part of our greater community.
This is our promise to you:
If you are at any event where we are vending, and feel harassed, followed, or otherwise unsafe, we will happily give you shelter. If you feel ill, we will give you a seat. We will stand by you until you find a friend or a member of event staff who can help you.
If for any reason our behavior ever makes you uncomfortable, please let us know. We want events we attend to be enjoyable and safe for all.
Our sympathies are with all effected, and we hope that we will all be able to move forward to a good year of events.
Those of you who follow us on our social media know that since November things have been super special for our business. So here’s what happened:
In October, Nathaniel found out that the building he had his workshop in had been sold, and that the new owners were not keeping the current tenants. So, we put aside a couple of days to find him a new building, preferably in his home town of Eden, NC. A couple of conversations with amazing locals later, and we were shown a vacant older storefront with amazing front display windows, a built in office, and a huge main room. It needs some love, but it is perfect for what we have wanted.
So, a couple of days later we had an agreement with a new landlord and I was planning a major move to North Carolina to join Nathaniel with the amazing shop.
It’s been a bit of a slow start, getting all of the legal business stuff taken care of and getting the funding together in our slower sales part of the year. But we are on the way to making something awesome! When we’re done, the front will have a sales gallery, the back and office will be made into our studio space. We’ll be able to create more efficiently, have space to teach, and bring our creations to an old downtown.
We need your help fulfilling this dream! We are currently raising money for our build out and building repairs. Visit our IndieGoGo campaign and we’ll give you awesome things for your help. Or, help us spread the word, or buy something awesome from our online store! Everything or anything will help.
We’re really looking forward to fostering a local creative community, and we’d love to have you with us for the adventure!
We love participating in VARF, and were happy to return for five weeks this May to June! Of course, with an outdoor fair and the growing Virginia heat, there are always some hiccups.
First weekend, I was madly trying to track down our new tent with absolutely no info coming from the company as to an ETA. So, week of we went ahead and bought a car port from Harbor Freight and some canvas for side walls so we would have something.
So when did our new tent arrive? The day before show opened, so too late to get it set up for first weekend.
We did get it all set up for second weekend, thought we were hot and tired and did not realize it was inside out until it was all up. We left it that way for the show. Last hiccup? We were in our usual spot, but with a larger space it was clear just what an odd hill it was. The tent stayed well, but we were constantly having to accommodate for the lean. Next year, we’re adding a platform and an in-tent fan!