Rave Reviews

What an incredible week we just had!  Perch was featured in not one, but two publications!
 I am tickled pink to report that Jan Johnson wrote a sparkling addition to her column, What’s Up Downtown (you can find it in the Kelowna Capital News), devoted to Perch.  She has owned Tigerlily Fashions, located on Bernard Avenue, for over 25 years so she defiantly knows the trends and innovations that shape Kelowna’s  retail economy.  THE tourism website to find information about Kelowna’s local attractions and unique businesses is Welcome to Kelowna.com.  On that website, there is a feature called ‘In Focus’ that showcases local people, businesses and organizations that contribute to the overall awesomeness of this beautiful city.  Guess who was the featured business on August 6th?  If you guessed Perch Travelling Boutique, you are right on!  It was such a thrill to see my little boutique as the spotlight of this informative, resourceful web column.
And another fascinating thing happened over at the Perch facebook page.  I admit, I spend a lot of time looking for cool Facebook pages, and boy did I find one, based out of Australia!  Trish Hunter Finds is the Facebook page for Trish Hunter and her fabulous retro Franklin caravan that is her mobile shop.  Last week, she posted an invitation on her Facebook page to all the people who follow her, and also have a facebook business page of their own.  In the invitation she asked for businesses to post a little bit about themselves on her page.  So of course, I wrote a short description of Perch on her facebook wall, and as a result I have new ‘likes’ from the Land Down Under.  The world wide web is amazing!  It really is a, “small world after all”!
It has been so exciting to experience the surge in the public's interest in my little shop over the past few days.  Checking the rise in activity on Perch’s  Facebook page and here on our blog confirms my belief that Perch is on the right track, and it is possible to use all of the newest social media marketing tools to increase Perch’s growth and ultimate success as a prosperous boutique.

To Market, To Market

Perch Travelling Boutique has been in business for 4 weeks now.  I admit I had some pretty high expectations with regards to the public’s hearty embrace of my new business venture: I pictured my shop on the front page of all the papers, television reporters calling me for on site interviews, a general buzz about town about the tiny mobile shop with the great atmosphere and incredible treasures... and a steady stream of customers buying up all my stuff.

That isn’t exactly how things have gone.  Sure, I’ve sold some great vintage clothes and jewelry to a few happy customers, and I’ve received some incredibly positive comments from the wonderful people who stop and take a look at the shop.  But, in the wise (cracking) words of my dad, “don’t quit your day job.”  I spend a lot of my time at the shop people watching.  There happens to be a liquor store about 100 feet from my door, so I watch the college boys come by empty handed, and leave with their cases of beer.  I wait for the logging truck that picks up a load from the mill down the street every Friday. On Saturdays the roller derby girls have practice at the Sunplex, and they come by and chat when it’s over (they have been great supporters of the shop).
There have been many ‘shoulda woulda coulda’ moments since this whole idea developed into the shop that it is today.  For instance, if I really had wanted all those newspaper reporters clamoring to be the first to interview me, maybe I should have contacted them and let them know about my shop (as a business owning newbie, I assumed they would come to me). If I had managed my time a little better, I could have designed and displayed more signs on every side of the shop so that it was clear just what this little faux brick trailer is all about.  And if I had investigated the possibility of having live entertainment at the Sunplex, I would have asked our friend, an Elvis impersonator, to perform at Perch’s grand opening.  Maybe I should be a consultant to other naive, starry eyed, would- be business owners, and remind them of a few key points that should, could and would help their businesses  make an impact from day one.
Picture Perch Travelling Boutique right in front of the Sunplex sign

For now, I am very happy to set up shop on my space in front of the Sunplex. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment just getting the boutique open and staged for a day of unlimited possibilities. For the record, there is no better deal in Kelowna for vendors looking for affordable, accessible space than theKelowna Downtown Sunday Market, located at the Sunplex .  I am so grateful to Jordan (the Sunplex manager) for allowing me to open Perch on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as Sundays, in order to establish the boutique as a permanent part of the weekend scene in downtown Kelowna.  But, as the saying goes, “it takes money to make money,” and I may have to shell out the big bucks next season to be set up right in the middle of the action in Kelowna’s downtown core. I really do appreciate the comment from fans of the shop that, “it (Perch) will catch on.”  In my entrepreneur heart of hearts, I believe it will. The question is: when?

How A Delivery Truck Became A Concession Stand

The idea of creating a mobile vintage boutique started to nag at me back in January.  My friend was visiting from Portland, Oregon, and she told me a story about a shop there that was located inside a double decker bus.  I was intrigued, enchanted and determined to find out everything I could about this retail phenomenon.
 It didn’t take long to find the Lodekka website and facebook page.  Once I actually saw (online, mind you) what the owner had accomplished - transforming a  1965 British double decker bus into a charming unique vintage shopping destination - I was hooked.  I want that!  After more investigation into the pop up shop movement, specifically in the Pacific Northwest, I found out about a little gem called Wanderlust, a converted 1969 Cardinal Deluxe Trailer.  I was sure if these ladies could transform boxes on wheels into something completely inviting (and a commercial success), so could I.
My first concept for a mobile shop was centered around a cube (moving) van.   Assuming the ‘cube’ portion of said van was already a blank canvas, it would be easy to add some shelving, a rug, some simple wall covering.  Oh, but how are customers suppose to enter the shop?  Climb up a ramp? Stairs!  I quickly learned that custom built stairs were not going to be cheap, and the price for a decent cube van was already above my meager budget.  Back to the beginning....
I spent practically every day scouring the classified ads for some type of transportation, still thinking that a van of some kind was my best option.  I came across an ad for a “Vintage Ice Cream Truck For Sale.” Immediately I pictured myself trolling down the street going 5 miles an hour while a steady stream of fashionistas chased me down just for a chance to buy a fantastic piece of jewelry or a knock out pair of shoes.  I made an appointment to view the ice cream truck, and even hauled my dear husband along for moral support.  Let’s just say that my idea of ‘vintage’ and the seller’s were not the same.   The truck I saw had obviously been sitting for a long time; it was rusty, stripped and had become a hotel for field mice.
Even though that experience was a complete downer, I was still on the delivery van kick, checking the ads every day for one that needed minimal work for minimal moolah.  Somehow, I crossed paths with an ad for a concession stand.  Hmm... could that work?  Even after looking up countless images on Google of concession stands, I couldn’t figure out just what this seller was advertising, so I made an appointment to see it.  It was love at first sight!  I immediately pictured myself leaning on the counter top, chatting with customers about that dress or this purse.  I bought it!  Of course, it is full of surprises (and worn tires, and dilapidated siding), but she is a diamond in the rough, and just what I need to showcase my collection of vintage treasures.  She may not look like much now, but soon she will take on a whole new personality... stay tuned!

The Original Concession Stand

Perch, Phase 1

When this all started...

My fascination with all things beautiful and timeless began in high school, oh so many years ago.  I lived in a small town in Mississippi, and searching for treasures at the Sally Ann or auxiliary shops  was something to do after school and on the weekends.  There was no Goodwill or Savers store, just a big, dingy, smelly warehouse - The Salvation Army - small, overpriced antique stores, or even smaller auxiliary shops (usually located in the front parlour of someone's house).  And, we didn't call the things for sale at these places "vintage", just "old" and "used".

My friends and I did a lot of looking, and  not too much buying.  But every once in awhile something wonderful would be tucked away in a corner or hidden under a pile of junk, and I'd find it.  Like the Martin Luther King pendant on a chain that has the quote, "I have a dream", Southern Leadership Conference written on the back.

My Aunt Sue has always shared my passion for antiques and collectibles.  Her home is full of her family's heirlooms- crystal and china, books and photographs. She has some of her grandmother's clothes and jewelry, and she graciously allowed me to try on a few pieces during a visit.  She even took a few photographs.

circa 1988

I felt so grown up and lovely in those clothes!  And so nervous- they were irreplaceable, and I remember being afraid of  tearing a seam or losing a button.  I don't know if my aunt still has those clothes, but my guess would be yes.

When I moved to California after finishing high school , I got my first job at the Goodwill store in Monterey. That is when I started adding countless vintage dresses, shoes and accessories to my wardrobe.  Because the store was located so close to Carmel and Pacific Grove, we received an abundance of high end, gorgeous goods that any fashion lover would go crazy over.  I had the freedom to dress up for work in all of my fancy frocks, and I'll never forget the day one of our regular customers commented that I always dressed like a model from the pages of Vogue magazine.

Throughout countless moves from place to place, I hauled my collection of eclectic fashions, and my pile of old records, with me.  I still have the MLK pendant, and the rhinestone costume necklace and earrings that I wore to my high school prom ( that I also wore when I got married).  I still have the records, too.

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