For a long time, I've thought it would be a wonderful thing if there was a modern way to do an old-fashioned barn raising. You know, Farmer Brown needs to build a new barn or fix his broken old barn, so he puts the word out, the neighbors get together with food, resources, and elbow grease.....and in no time, Farmer gets his barn! And then, when Farmer Jones needs a barn, Farmer Brown and all of the neighbors get together again and help him.
GoFundMe seems to be the 21st century way to do just that. I thought long and hard about using a service such as this - and I admit that I am feeling a bit nervous about what my facebook friends and others who don't know me will think. While researching this, I came across negative comments such as, "this is simply virtual panhandling," or "social media begging." While I do believe that there is certainly the possibility for abuse, I also believe that this company researches and does the appropriate due diligence to ensure that improper use is dealt with promptly. I also want to ask the question, "is anyone being forced to give money to anyone here?" And of course, the answer is, "no!" Just as we are all free to donate to any charity we please, or to give to a homeless person, or a family member or friend in need; we are all free here to do the same. If you do not feel led to donate....then don't!
I am excited about the prospect of using GoFundME because it is a grassroots solution to a huge problem that we are all facing. The middle class works so hard, yet we often do not have the funds to realize our dreams because we are working simply to survive. If we all gave just a little....the impact could be HUGE! If one person gives you a dollar, it's not such a big thing. But if 10,000 people pitch in a dollar....it could change EVERYTHING.
So, now to the reason I have joined GoFundMe. I currently own a gift shop called "fiona bean fine gifts and home furnishings" in Grants Pass, Oregon. I started out with a little booth in a crafters mall, and after several years, I struck out on my own. For 3 years, I ran my little shop until I was invited to come back into the crafters mall as the "gift shop"; which meant I no longer had a booth, I now had half of the floor space to set up my wares. I make a lot of the things I sell - I sew, I refinish furniture and thrift shop finds, I make decoupaged mixed media art bottles, jewelry, and an assortment of other gift items. I also buy organic handmade soaps and soy candles, and cards. As much as possible, I buy American-made goods to sell. I am very passionate about supporting our economy. I am also passionate about being more than just a gift shop. In my business plan, I state that my vision is to have a locally-owned, downtown, small-town American shop where customers feel special and above all, have fun! Our lives are so fast-paced, hectic, and chaotic.....I want my customers to feel that fiona bean is a place where they can not only find a high-quality, reasonably priced gift, but a place where they are treated like friends and family. I want my customers to feel that a trip to fiona bean is a restful break from their busy lives. I've worked very hard to accomplish that goal, and according to customer feedback...I'm doing a pretty good job at it! I've also helped the other crafters in our shop learn how to sell more effectively and provide the awesome customer service that makes our place special. We go above and beyond to exceed our customers expectations because we know that selling gifts is not like doing brain surgery. What we do is not necessary....and we have to compete with the big box stores as well. So we do things like customer appreciation drawings, Girl's Night Out, free coffee and donuts on Saturdays, etc.
But now I've found that my barn needs fixing. The economy has not been kind to small business owners, and in spite of what we're being told, I haven't seen any of the money that is available to assist small business owners. Several months ago, I took a part time job at Home Depot, just to make ends meet. My husband is employed full-time at a local cabinet manufacturing plant...and our ends are still not meeting! We are not lazy people looking for a hand out. You know the adage: give a man a fish and you feed him for a day - give a man a fishing pole and he learns to feed himself and others. That's what we need help with - we need a fishing pole!
The money that comes in from this venture would go to keeping fiona bean alive. I no longer have the money to purchase new things to make, or to purchase the cards, soaps, candles and other goods that I sell. Anyone who has ever been in retail knows that you have to have new merchandise and lots of it to attract new customers and keep your loyal customers happy. I also need to update our credit card machine and signage. Basically, I need enough capital to jump start fiona bean and get my shop back on the right track again. I'm at a crossroads: either get fiona bean back up and running strong, or close the shop and get a full-time job.
I'm not a special case, there are many small business owners in the same boat I'm in. If you don't donate to my cause- please look around this site anyway and find something else to donate to. This is such a good idea - joining together to help each other. It doesn't seem that we can rely on our government, and most of us in the middle class are so tapped out we can't get credit....so why not pool our resources and one at a time, help each other? I have made a vow that no matter the outcome here, but especially if I do get the assistance I need to keep my shop open, I'm going to give some back to others on this site. I really think it's worth it. It just seems so grass roots, so on a human level.
I love my shop....I love my customers, and I love the women I work with. I've been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. When I was 5, my teen-age uncle and I sold Gravenstein apples at a roadside stand. When I was nine, I had 36 laying hens and I developed an egg business, selling to our neighbors. I developed and taught a craft camp for neighborhood kids when I was 13. Throughout my first marriage, I was a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling my 4 kids....and also running businesses from home. Staying busy and productive is what I do, and it's who I am! I love running my own business and I love helping others learn how to sell the things they make. Making a difference in this world by doing business the old fashioned way is very important to me.
Thank you all so much for reading this and allowing me to present my situation. If any of you do decide to throw a buck or two into the pot, please know that I and my family thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Please feel free to check into everything I've told you - you can look up fiona bean or Savannah Faire on facebook - also, if you google Grants Pass Daily Courier and search my name, you can read all of the articles that have been written about my shop.