Not enough in the tank? Knowing when it's time to shut up shop

by Jacob Solomon Feb 5, 2023 News
Not enough in the tank? Knowing when it

Rachel is a marketing strategist.

She thought she could have written her speech on her own.

Terry didn't have enough in the tank to run her flagship Madame Fancy Pants store in Wellington. She was about to tell the world that she had decided to close.

I knew I had made the right decision when I watched her. I was the leader of five and she was the leader of 5. It felt like the same thing.

The power of email marketing and automation is being harnessed.

Sitting there, her team all told, a press release ready to send out, and social media posts ready for the next day, Terry was not alone.

For the past few years, when time felt hard, she looked to Ardern and felt that she could keep going. It was okay to admit that it was time to go.

Like me, she had thought about it for a while. You don't just wake up and think you don't like it, you have to think about it. Over a period of time, it happens.

I have spoken to a wide range of small business owners, including those with family and young children, about how Ardern made them feel comfortable to admit how close they are to the wire.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is stepping down before the 2023 election.

It's difficult to run a business. It is. During a Pandemic and beyond, running a business and parenting is something completely different.

Terry decided to end her relationship with the store she once loved the most.

The perfect spot for Madame Fancy Pants was Cuba St. Terry had stopped at the top of the steps.

She says that people were okay with walking up 100 million steps, but they didn't like it.

Terry has a collection of New Zealand designers, her own range of earrings, and a well-curated range of stationery knick-knacks.

After moving to Cuba St, they moved into a larger store and have been there ever since.

Early on in her retail journey, Terry launched a website and began selling online. She opened a smaller store and a workshop in Greytown in 2020.

Everything changed as a result of the swine flu. In central Wellington, the shopping behavior changed the most.

Cuba Street under level 2 Covid restrictions. The pandemic hit retailers hard, with many struggling to recover (file photo).
Cuba Street under level 2 Covid restrictions. The pandemic hit retailers hard, with many struggling to recover (file photo).

It was like it was a wild west desert with those rolly weeds. The impact of the protest went on for months beyond February.

People find it easier to stay out of the city. I know what I'm talking about. Terry admits that it's been difficult.

The previous two years were easier for many small business owners. Sickness, staff shortages, and irregular shopping habits were some of the things that happened.

Through all of Terry's years in business, she had never had to put her own money into the business, but through the cold and wintry months of the year, it happened more often than not.

My accountant told me that I needed to do that because I was down. I realized I had to fix it. I made up problems in my head.

When she began to think about options, she knew that there would be disruptions over the winter months.

I knew I would be too far gone if I waited it out. I would become a shell of myself if I lost my mind. I didn't want to take that risk.

The problem was more than just finances. Terry had lost her optimism and vision for a future that included Cuba St. as her view of herself within the business had evolved.

Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing.
Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing.

I didn't want to become the mayor of resentment because I could feel resentment building up.

Terry felt she had not been able to invest in her Cuba St team due to her focus on survival. Being able to develop her staff has always been one of her favorite things to do.

I feel like I didn't give them enough. I could have aided them in their careers. I told them that I let them down, and wished I had taught them more.

There is still a lot of work to be done before the doors close. It's hard to see a future after the next month.

After Cuba St is closed, Terry can see how Madame Fancypants will change.

Her Greytown store is small and has shorter hours that fit in with her busy schedule and give her more time to make jewelry. As the business grew, she struggled with her creativity.

It's hard to make that work when a lot of creative business owners decide to open a shop. I like customer service and being on the floor, but I will find a way to do both.

She wants to use her website to serve customers who can't get to Greytown.

I want our online customers to feel like they're in a store, like they're walking in.

To thank them for coming to our little slice of the internet, I want to see them again. We want them to feel like they're special too. It is so important to me.

Terry believes that her optimism in this time of endings comes from making a conscious choice to change her business trajectory instead of being forced to make a decision.

Small business owners often go too far. When I first opened my store at the top of those steps, I wondered how I would know when I had reached my limit.

I remember thinking that the moment something new comes in, or I do a refresh of the store, or I take a break, I no longer feel joy.

She had to look out for that sign.

On the day Terry announced her store closing, I interviewed her. More of her story can be heard here.