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Carol Perkins: The adventure of opening a new business II

Wherein the dynamic duo find a treasure in dining in Atlanta, Mary Mac's Tearoom (MENU) 224 Ponce De Leon Avene NE (MAP), Atlanta, GA (IF YOU GO, its only 299 miles, 5 hours 4 minutes, from Downtown Columbia, KY); but as usual, that's the highlight, but not the only eventful part of the trip, one fraught with lost keys, inattentive doormen, a successful buying trip for both Camilla's new Glasgow store and for Carol's business in Edmonton, Main Street Printing. They've returned now to Paradise Central, to the delight of their free labor, husbands Steve and Guy.
Click on headline for complete adventure installment. The next earlier Carol Perkins column: Carol Perkins: The adventure of opening a new business

By Carol Perkins

To continue from last week, the adventure of Camilla and me at the Atlanta Market progressed to dinner at Mary Mac's Tearoom. Never would we have discovered this jewel without the help of a guy in valet parking at the Westin. Only ten minutes from downtown, this highly rated eatery was packed, but we waited our forty-five minutes people watching.

Before the wait, however, parking was an issue. We circled the tiny area to discover a place along the street. We noticed a meter guy issuing tickets to unsuspecting diners whose cars were also along the street, so once parked, Camilla asked him if we were parked safely (in fear of a ticket). He looked at her car and gave us his word that we were fine. Of course, when we came out after a wonderful meal, a ticket rested on her windshield. Stomping mad, we found the security guy in the parking lot of Mary Mac's and asked him what to do. "He saw your out-of-state plates, wrote the ticket and ran. This happens all the time." Totally unfair and I hope someone from the city of Atlanta reads this!

Back at the hotel, exhausted and stuffed and more than a little irritated, we unloaded our purchases from the day, spread them on the beds, repacked them, and then I fell quickly into my bed with my C-pap machine humming. All of a sudden, Camilla gasped. "My keys are missing!" She was patting her pockets and digging through her bags.

Although her car had a keyless entrance, without the keys we were going nowhere. "Maybe I left them in the car," she said after we had turned the room upside down. She went back to the parking lot, searched her car, but came back empty handed. In the meantime, I called down to the desk to see if keys had been turned in, but they had not.

"Maybe they fell down between the seats. Did you look really well?"

She made one more trip to the car and this time came back in a serious panic. "I have no choice but call home and have Steve overnight a set to me." By then, it was well after eleven at home. I could tell by the conversation he had been asleep. Once again, he was going to come to our rescue. While she was telling him where to find the spare keys, I called the desk again.

"Yes, ma'am, we just had a set turned in!" Music to our ears and a symphony to Steve's. From that moment on, we both knew where the keys were at all times.

Although the process of buying for a store is a fun one, it is also risky. At least three sales reps told Camilla that she was "brave" for going into business now. "So many small stores are closing and the big retailers are hurting. I don't want to discourage you, but all I can say is that you are brave." We heard stories after stories of how "slow" the market is compared to a few years ago. "Retailers are cutting back." Most of these reps had been in the business thirty years or more so they should know.

Buying is risky in another way because an owner finds things she likes but is never sure that a customer will. For my store in Edmonton (Main Street Screenprinting) I came home with new jewelry, unique scarves, and other odds and ends. She, on the other hand, filled the car, not being deterred by the negative. Perhaps we are naive but America was built by small businesses growing into large ones. Who knows what might be ahead for both of us. I suggested renovating a school bus, installing shelves, and traveling from town to town like the rolling stores popular in the 30's. Think of how many people we would meet, plus we have free labor-Guy and Steve would love this project. Just saying....

This story was posted on 2013-04-07 03:11:11
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