Well, as most of you know, Mabel's has closed. This has been far more difficult than I expected, especially at moments like this, when I'm alone in this empty shop. We opened three and a half years ago with such a sense of excitement, promise, anticipation...and now it's over. It was three years of struggle, for sure, but also three years of having a home away from home, something to call my own, something I made.
When we opened, we were crazy busy. People loved the idea, loved the coziness, loved our willingness to help them when other shops turned away. We spent the first year in awe of our little business! Then....well then a few other people tried the same concept, and a ton of new shops opened in Portland. We felt it, for sure. Between the abundance of yarn shops, more knitters shopping online, and the eventual closure of Wild Oats across the street, we really just didn't stand a chance. People still loved us, still came to us, but unfortunately nothing was being backed up by sales. During our closing sale, people kept saying "but it's always so busy in here!" Yes, busy with people sitting and knitting, not with people shopping. What everybody loved about us became our downfall.
We saw an alarming 40% decline in sales in one year. Anyone can tell you that ain't sustainable. We stayed open WAY too long after that. I was afraid that our customers would be hurt, that they wouldn't have anywhere to go for help, that my employees would be left in the cold...that I wouldn't have my little corner to go to every day. As I suspected, there were a lot of sad people during closing. Not surprisingly, the people who were angry/upset/incredulous were the ones that I hadn't seen in a year, or had never seen at all. One comment that's been uttered repeatedly is "I can't believe you're doing this to me!" That one hurts....if only they knew how we tried not to. It also, though, speaks to how much people thought of this little place as their own. I like that part.
Oh - but this whole process is so wrought with emotion that I can hardly tell if I'm sad, hurt, embarrassed by my failure, relieved, or a mixture of it all. What I know is that I can't believe it's over...no more warm shop full of wool, no more teaching Knitting 101, no more saving the day with people's last minute projects. I can hardly stand the thought, honestly.
But also? No more lying awake at night wondering how on earth to make it all work without financially ruining my family. I may have done the ruining part, but heck! At least I don't have to stay awake thinking about it anymore!
The course of Mabel's taught me that what I truly love is running a coffee shop. I have done it for so many years of my life (since I was 18!) that it's part of my make-up at this point. I knew when we were deciding to close, that I really wanted to make the coffee part work.
So, on September 1st, Tandem Coffeehouse will be opening it's doors. I'm very excited (and nervous) about this. My gut tells me it'll be fantastic. We're having a painting party this weekend, and I'll post pictures of the opening process. I kind of love the whole getting ready part.
I can't put all of this into words. It feels oddly big and important.
So for now....
Goodbye Mabel's! Thanks for helping me know myself a little better, and for bringing so many remarkable people into my life. God knows I loved you...I miss you already.