It was July of 2010 and we needed some place to park our trailers and trucks for our amusement business. We had been begging space off of friends, using semi truck parking lots and just about any place we could find. Our home didn't have enough parking space for the trailers.
I knew of this place that had storage units for rent and a nice large parking lot. It just happened to be in a great location by a popular retail shopping area. A friend parked 2 of his DJ trailers in the parking lot and all he had to do was rent a small storage unit, so I asked if we could do the same. I was told the only rental unit they had available was in a huge old building, once known as the Bus Barn. I remembered a crafty, artsy lady who I had hired for Face Painting a couple of years earlier, once had a shop there.
Her shop had been a pretty interesting place with lots of collectibles, an assortment of weird stuff, some antiques and all kinds of paintings that she had done on windows and just about anything else. The few times I was there, I looked for antiques but noticed the good stuff became less and the junk became more with each returning visit. Eventually her hoarding of junk got out of control and you couldn't even walk through the place. People stopped going in and she finally had an auction which sadly did not bode well for her.
It sounded crazy renting this termite chewed, decrepit old building just to be able to park a couple of trailers in front of but we were becoming pretty desperate and thought the logos on our trailers parked out front would bring free advertising, so we rented it. Then the place sat fairly empty, housing only a few tubs of games, additional electrical cords and our pink cotton candy cart.
A few days later, while paying the household bills, I stopped to ponder the amount of money we had spent on two large storage units we had been renting for the past 5 years. When I added it up, I realized why we had not been able to afford to take a cruise or any other fun vacation for a while, (great excuse since we've never taken a cruise and up to this point have only had one vacation that didn't involve a tent or fishing pole, or both). Then I made a huge decision to clean out those storage units and start saving that money. I mean really, after 5 years no one could even remember half of the contents anyway!
I started with big items first; all kinds of furniture, a barely used Coleman travel refrigerator still in it's box, (remember, no vacations), a folding golf club carrier, assorted shelves and many other useful, semi-useful and totally worthless items.
I took some good photos and posted some of the items on Craigslist. With-in days I had sold several. One person met me in the Target parking lot to buy the travel fridge, another met me at Walmart for one of my two brand new sump pumps, (no I don't know why we had two brand new sump pumps still in the boxes; I don't know why we had one!), another person met me in the library parking lot to buy a pair of old white, milk glass lamps and a woman even met me in the school parking lot of a carnival we were working with our amusement business, to pick up two metal bathroom shelves.
I only accepted cash for these things and made certain our meetings were in well lit, public places, but when it came to selling the really big items, like the furniture, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of having strangers meet me out at our storage units since they were in a fairly secluded area. I asked, (begged and finally food bribed) my Big Guy to help and together we started bringing things to our little, decrepit, shop. In a week, we had cleaned out one storage unit and the shop was full of furniture and lots of tubs and boxes stacked everywhere.
My good friend Holly came by the shop one day, and upon entering she gasped. "Where in the world did you get all of this stuff?"
She was walking through the stacks of assorted items that I had placed neatly in groups about the room.
"Oh, just a few things I've picked up here and there." I joked and then started to explain that most of the items had been blessed upon me due to the passing of several family members, children leaving the nest and an ex-husband who never came back to claim his Elvis collection. I didn't want her to think I was a hoarder but looking around the room, I could see how one would start to think that.
Many of these items and furniture were from the house we had lived in for over 13 years and sold 6 years earlier. We went from nearly 3000 square feet of living space down to our small, temporary home of under 900 square feet. That stuff had to go somewhere so storage it was.
I had actually broken my own rule of paying for storage on something that could be replaced. Years earlier, when a friend had asked for help in selling a beautiful, barely used but almost 2 year old washer and dryer, I vowed I would never lose money like she had. She had moved with-in a month or two of purchasing her beautiful new set and since the duplex she was now renting already had a perfectly good washer and dryer, her thought was to save her nice new set for later. Later hadn't come and in fact, she was already halfway through another years lease in this duplex. Frustrated when she realized she had paid more on the storage than she had for the washer and dryer originally, she decided to sell the set to try and recover some of her loss and stop paying for storage.
Upon noticing that Rocky was standing in the middle of the carpet and no longer curled up asleep next to me on the sofa, almost dropping the laptop on Cookie's head and tripping over Chrissy who had also hopped un-noticed by me onto the floor, I reached for the now squatting chihuahua, already in full stream ahead. Lifting him into the air which just propelled the pee in the manor of someone holding a fire hose that was out of control, I ran with him to the kitchen tile just a few feet away. Once there, I held him as he continued to relieve what I think to be at least a gallon of pee. How in the world can something this small contain that much liquid? This is why my home always smells Pine Sol clean!
Now back to where ever I was!
As Holly helped look through the items, picking up one thing or another and exclaiming how wonderful each thing was, she suggested something that I had been trying to decide myself.
"Why don't you open up a little thrift shop and sell all of this stuff right here?"
"Well, I have been thinking about it but don't even know where to begin." I told her, holding up one of 32 different stuffed monkeys from a box belonging to my youngest daughter. "And then if it became a thrift shop, I would have to go get more stuff and I'm not sure I want to keep buying more stuff!"
Truth was, I loved buying stuff, it was giving the stuff up that I didn't know I could cope with. Already as I had started sifting through the boxes and tubs that chronicled the lives of so many in our family, I had my "keep" pile and it was growing by leaps and stuffed monkeys. I would pull out an ugly, slightly chipped dish and remember that my grandparents used it to eat from whenever they didn't have company. A tub full of old stainless steel flatware brought back memories of the welfare poor childhood I had grown up in. A box of Home Beautiful magazines from the 1990's were making my clearing of things much harder. I wanted to look through every old article like, "How to make you're bathroom grow by planting wallpaper borders with huge floral designs and matching shower curtain, towels and toothbrush holder.", that you could purchase all at K-Mart. These were the days before Martha went to the big house.
"You could really make this place fun by renting booths to artists so they can sell their work!" Holly suggested with a sweet smile. Holly, herself an artist, had a good idea even if it might have come with a somewhat personal aspiration. I told her I liked the idea of renting booths and later that evening I tossed it around with my Big Guy who seemed happy about it even though I think he only heard half of what I was talking about. (Hint: If you want a man to really listen to you, don't talk to him while the Undertaker is putting the whoop on Chris Jericho! Google WWE Smackdown and you'll know what I'm talking about.)
That night I went to my computer, googled thrift shops, antique booths and images of what I envisioned my shop to look like.
The next day, armed with some cute ideas of how to set up booths, I gathered up items that seemed to match and these are a few photos of what eventually transpired.
I am happy to say that with a lot of good photos, a couple of great friends and ton's of elbo grease, the Little Apple Trade Company was born.
More on this fun place later...at least I'll try if I'm not passed out from inhaling Pine Sol all day!