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Dear Fire Poppies Family,
I hope you are sitting down, because you aren’t going to be expecting what I am about to tell you. At all. So now that you have taken a seat, let’s get down to the news. And fair warning, this newsletter will be LONG. There is a lot of information to talk about, so please, please, please, be sure to read the entire thing. This will hopefully reduce the amount of emails and phone calls that come through with questions so that we can be sure to provide you with the service levels you expect from us.
On June 24, 2022, I will be closing the shop, both online and the brick and mortar. Now, I know you have a million questions, starting with a big fat “WHAAATT?????” Let me explain.
In a nutshell, my husband and I have found ourselves in a really wonderful spot in our lives that we weren’t expecting to possibly happen for several years at least. Several events took place that led to this decision.
My husband’s original plan was to retire from the company that he worked for some time between 2026 and 2031. Things were going in a direction with the company that caused us to reevaluate that line of thought, and we made the decision that he should retire early. He did so in July of 2021.
We also realized that he didn’t want to continue to take care of the 13-acre piece of property that we had built our house on. Since the housing market was super crazy back in 2021, we decided to sell the house and did so in February of 2021. Like everyone else that was selling, we were fortunate to sell the house for much more than we thought. We planned on renting for the foreseeable future due to the inflated housing market.
Another factor that influenced our decision was that he has never lived anywhere else but the Charleston area. I was an Air Force brat, so I have seen a fair amount of the country. In addition, he has picked up some consulting work that can be done remotely. Rather than do some traveling in the conventional way, we realized that it could be way more interesting if we sort of traveled and saw different parts of the country by living in different locations for a couple of years at a time. We had many late-night conversations about how this would work, when we might want to do it, etc.
My lease here at the shop is done at the end of June. This meant that if we were serious about doing this, we needed to decide if it was going to be something we started doing at the end of the lease, or if I was going to find another location here in Charleston and sign another 5-year lease.
All that to say, we have found ourselves in a position where we are debt free, have no mortgage, and no jobs that we have to go to daily (once the lease is up for me). We also have our health and are still young enough (56 years old) to explore this style of life, and do some fun things.
I talked all of this through with a very wise friend who reminded me that we are not promised tomorrow. This literally came into sharp focus this past week. We lost two friends and an ex-in-law last week - two of them to cancer and one to a heart attack. All three men were our age.
Our plan is to move about an hour and a half south, to Beaufort SC, as we have friends down there. This gives us a chance to see how we feel about being a little further away from our grandkids and daughter/son-in-law and the rest of our families. The next potential location after living there for a year or two is Naples, Fl, where his sister and brother-in-law are living currently. After that? Who knows! I really loved the high desert area around Sedona back when we went on our road trip.
So now let me see if I can answer some of the other questions you probably have.
Q: You mentioned you had grandchildren and your family around you? Why are you leaving them?
A: We aren’t “leaving” them. It’s a short jaunt and before we sold our house, we lived about 50 minutes from them, but because it was all considered the Charleston area, it didn’t sound like we lived “away” from them. Besides, if we are as footloose and fancy free as I think we will be, it will be easy to go visit any time we choose.
Q: Why don’t you just move the shop down to Beaufort (or wherever you happen to be??) or just do everything online?
A: Good question. The amount of work in setting up shop in a new location and the governmental headaches involved in transferring licenses/deregistering and registering the LLC, etc. is just more than I want to deal with, quite frankly.
And, even if I decided to try to do it online, the size of our current inventory is considerably more than I could ever put in a house that we would be living in. I don’t deal with clutter well, and it would stress me out trying to make all of that fit. So, if it wasn’t done out of the house, then we are back to square one with having to rent a space and a (most likely) 5-year lease agreement. Then I would need staff. The service levels we provide are absolutely not a one woman show. Whether or not you allow customers in the door to shop, it takes 2 to 3 people each day to pull off the Fire Poppies service magic. If we went down that road, then I am right back to the situation we are in currently.
Q: Why don’t you just sell the business, rather than closing?
A: Another good question! Boy, you guys are on it!! Needlework shops are notoriously difficult to sell for a whole host of reasons, of which we won’t go into here. Plus, if we did sell, it would only be the actual inventory and shop fixtures. Fire Poppies is my brand and it goes with me.
Q: What if you have someone who wants to buy you out and start their own shop, whether it’s in Charleston or another area?
A: That would be FANTASTIC! Charleston can absolutely support a needlework shop and it has been good for me and the local community. I know that is how I got my start. I bought out the floss and beads from a shop in Columbia that closed back in 2018. It was the leftover inventory from their going out of business sale, but it was a good way for me to get a little base going.
The truth is that I make a good living with the shop. It took a little while for me to get to that point, but I did get there. We made a profit our first full year as a brick and mortar and sales and profits have continued to rise.
Because I have a few months on my lease still and other bills to pay, it makes more financial sense for me to sell product on clearance, rather than sell what I have at wholesale prices to another shop/potential shop. However, as it gets closer to the end, that kind of discussion is absolutely on the table. I would LOVE to sell out completely, but that may not be possible.
Q: So is Fire Poppies going completely away/dead/kaput??
A: Absolutely not! It will just look different! Of course, I will need some down time for a bit, but the possibilities are endless! I could host retreats, I would LOVE to do some consulting with shops that want to understand how we do what we do, act as a coach for new/potential shop owners, maybe jump into Flosstube, do some “of the month clubs,” etc. I will still be around on Instagram after the shop closes but will most likely take Facebook down except for Messenger. It’s just not a social media platform that I am/was active on, even before the shop.
Q: So, what are the real reasons? You know, the ones only your close friends get to know about?
A: I PROMISE that what I have told you are the REALLY REAL reasons for this decision. It’s just happening several years earlier than I thought it might.
Really. No one is sick, the business isn’t in trouble financially – as matter of fact, it is going gangbusters! – and “fill-in-the-blank” with whatever else someone may think is really going on behind the scenes.
Q: So, this is really all your husband's fault!
A: Nope, but he gave me permission to throw him under the bus if that helped. It wasn’t necessary, but he was sweet to offer. It was very much a joint decision. He made it perfectly clear that he would stay put as long as I wanted to keep the shop going. But, honestly, he has given up a lot for me over the years. His blood, sweat, and tears are as much a part of this shop as mine are. He is my boy scout. Now it’s my turn to give up something for him, and this is my gift to him.
Q: Are your hours changing? What about the events on your calendar?
A: We are adjusting our Saturday shop hours immediately. We will be closing at 2 PM instead of 7 PM.
We will continue to have the monthly shop stitch-in for both April and May, plus the 24-Hour stitch-in that is scheduled for April 22. We will, however, discontinue the Harry Potter and Movie Night events immediately. As always, you are welcome to come stitch anytime!
Q: What about my gift card/auto ship?
A: If you have a gift card with an outstanding balance on it, SPEND IT! Once we are out of business, the money is just gone. I will be sending reminders to those of you who still have gift cards with money on them.
If you are on an auto ship with us for anything, we will be reaching out to you to see if you want us to help you find another shop to take that over, or if you want to handle that yourself.
Q: Okay, fine (grumble, grumble). We believe you. Now, what was it you mentioned about clearance prices?
A: Wink! I was hoping you would come around to seeing the silver lining! Everyone loves a good sale and this is going to be a doozy! Here are the details:
At 12:01 AM March 29th , the following discounts, exclusions, and offers will apply:
All floss and fabric will be 35% off. This is the final discount percentage. I will not be reducing prices any further. Any remaining inventory at the end will be made available to other shops to purchase at wholesale cost to add to their inventory.
All beads/buttons/pins/charms, accessories, charts, kits, books/magazines, and embroidery will be 40% off. This is the final discount percentage. I will not be reducing prices any further. Any remaining inventory at the end will be made available to other shops to purchase at wholesale cost to add to their inventory.
Shipping – due to the highly discounted items, we will not offer free shipping anymore. We were able to absorb the additional cost before, but now there won’t be enough profit margin to be able to make it an option. Besides, the amount of money you will be saving will absolutely offset the extra few dollars in shipping.
For those of you who opened your newsletter right when it popped in your email today, all of this will be starting in just a few short hours. For those of you who opened it the next day or later (gah!!), the sale is already going on and you need to scoot yourself over to the website or shop, pronto!
Any remaining Lowery items WILL NOT be discounted. We will take full price pre-orders for stands and accessories, etc. until April 15th as a courtesy to our customers. You can absolutely order directly from Lowery anytime.
Many of our displays and store fixtures will be for sale. Feel free to stop by the shop to see what the options are. We will be reaching out to a few of the shops closest to us to see if they may want to buy any. If you know of any businesses that may want to come take a look, send them our way. We are also selling many of the décor items that we used on displays until April 8th. After that they will be sold at my yard sale.
A couple of housekeeping items –
You may see items refunded on your order when we go to fill and ship it. It will be one of two things that cause that. Either we weren’t able to pull the items for your order before someone in the shop ended up purchasing the last of something, or our inventory was off. If you are one of those that read your newsletter right away and decided to fill your cart up and then checkout right at 12:02 AM, there may have been other folks with the same thing in their cart. It will be a matter of timing if you are all after the same limited quantity of an item. You should receive a message that something is out of stock when you get to the checkout screen if that happens. If you don’t see the discounts that are applied at checkout, and you were waiting on the magical hour for the sale to begin, you may need to “refresh” your cart for it to take effect.
We will be taking down the Wishlist feature on April 15th. This should give you plenty of time to get the goodies on your list. We will also be removing the back in stock notification box and hiding anything that become out of stock from the website in order to keep it cleaner visually as things are sold out.
Obviously, we will not be taking any more special orders or adding any more stock. If you are one of those few folks that we are still waiting for Market purchases that have taken longer to get here than expected, they will still get to you.
Now, I have probably forgotten to mention something. Apologies ahead of time! That being said, the staff and I want to thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing journey you have taken with us! It has been wonderful, stressful, and a hundred bazillion other emotions all at the same time. This community is a pretty wonderful group and I am honored to be a part of it. The encouragement and kind words that you continually sent to us will never be forgotten.
As I said earlier, I will not be MIA from this community. I don’t know what the future holds, whether it may be a retreat that I put on, or a myriad other ways to stay involved. I will certainly still be on Instagram as Fire Poppies and the email address will still be live, so feel free to reach out and say hello from time to time!
I am sad and really sorry that we won’t be here for those of you who were planning a visit for the first time later this year. I hope you do plan to visit some of the other great shops in the state!
Well, you have been uber patient and read all the way to the end. Thank you for that. Now it is time for the closing quote I always include. Spoiler alert – I couldn’t decide on just one:
You may delay, but time will not. - Benjamin Franklin
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. - Seneca
And suddenly you just know it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. - Meister Eckhart
You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So get on your way!” —Dr. Seuss
Maybe the yes comes before the readiness. Maybe you say yes and then you become equipped to handle whatever is about to happen.” —Glennon Doyle
Well, I guess that is about it for now.
Much Love and Light!!
Susan and Staff