The Big One Year Review

I am happy to announce that OverAttired has officially been open for a whole year!

Six months ago I wrote a Big Six Month Review – a lot of that still applies here, but I don’t want to rehash what I wrote then.

Big Picture

On occasion it’s hard to see the big picture, but I feel incredibly accomplished that OverAttired has been open 11-8 every day (aside from a couple holidays) for the past year!

The shop has had Zero Staff Turnover since we opened. I don’t know what the averages are for my little sector of the business world, but I know I can’t do better than zero turnover, so we must be doing great!

But wait, we can do better! We have promoted Terra to Shop Manager, a role that I’m pretty sure she thought she was doing since the beginning, and it would probably be harder for her to not try to manage the shop. She’s done an excellent job at it, and after the promotion she has continued to excel at every area of shop management and improvement I can think of. It’s not an overstatement to say that OverAttired wouldn’t have achieved nearly as much as we have without Terra’s guidance.

We have also welcomed Alex as our third employee! Alex works Sundays at the shop, and we all adore her. She has also recently been deemed The Weirdest on our Team, an award she wears with pride. She has an art show coming up where you can get your own taste of Alex’s wonderful weirdness.

Sales

We recently crossed our 600th Etsy sale! Our Etsy shop continues to improve. For example, we are now on our third background, and second camera. Though not what I originally envisioned as the aesthetic for the online component, our (worldwide!) sales clearly show that the clean, simple background is an industry standard for a reason.

Within the next year, I aspire to hire another employee to work on Etsy nearly full time. (would you like to be considered? Contact me!)

Goals

In the last year, we’ve hit our Party Goal Twelve Times! I’m over the moon with what we’ve been able to accomplish!

Day-to-day: some days we hit some goals, some days we don’t hit any. We’re doing better than when we started, and I’m committed to continue that trend.

We’re going through a bit of a rough spot currently (we haven’t hit a Party Goal in a month), but I think things will pick up with the holidays coming up, and a few fun events we have planned (more below).

Shop Improvements

We continue to make improvements to the shop, and I still feel like I have more projects in the planning stages than completed, but I’m proud of what we’ve done so far.

  • On the (constant) advice of Terra, we moved the front desk to the other side of the doorway (Right, as you enter). While the Left made sense when looking at a top-down floor plan, the front desk makes much more sense on the right, as we get a much better view if anyone needs assistance on the sales floor, dressing rooms, etc.
  • I wired & hung three more chandeliers, bringing our total to six. I’m pretty sure I’m done hanging chandeliers for awhile, but I’m also pretty sure I said that six months ago, so who knows.
  • We (finally!) hung our awning sign, and it looks great (thank you Golden West Sign Arts!)
  • We completed painting the upstairs lounge. This was a decision to abandon (for now) the wainscoting idea, as it has proven to be a huge amount of time & money needed to finish. I’d love to get it finished, but I am also aware that it has never been my first priority (in addition to all that time and money).

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Questions

Our most common question is “Where do your fabulous clothes come from?”.

We get clothes about a dozen different ways (most of which I’m not going to write about here), but certainly our favorite way is from people bringing things into the shop to sell. We buy clothes from the 1950s and earlier at the shop on a daily basis and offer trade credit if you’d rather go home with “new” lovely clothing (you know you would!).

Events

We’ve enjoyed fun events recently at the shop with our annual Gatsby Afterparty in September, and my own birthday party in July.

I’m hard at work scheduling upcoming events at the shop including Monica’s knitwear-themed Birthday Soiree on Saturday 11/19, our annual Boxing Day Party on 12/26, and our Anniversary Party on Saturday 1/28/17. Save those dates!

We’re also excited about not-yet-scheduled events including a showing of The Dressmaker and a Lecture Series.

Bonus!

Congratulations on making it this far!

In celebration of our Anniversary on October 20th, our entire shop & etsy shop are 20% OFF TODAY ONLY!

Stop in for a complimentary glass of bubbly and cheers us on many more years of OverAttired Vintage Fashion!

Thank you so much, from all of us at OverAttired!

TEAM

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The Big Six Month Review

OverAttired Vintage Fashion has been open for six months!

I find this exciting, daunting, and 100 other emotions.

Sometimes I wonder why I moved from a low-stress regular 40hr/wk tech job to owning a business where I work literally every day, usually 10-12 hours/day.

And then someone new comes in, drops their jaw, and compliments what I’ve created, and I float on a little cloud.

Thank you all for giving me the ability to do this. I love it.

I know I love it, because I’m still tolerating this crazy schedule where I start work around 9am (usually with the first posting), and finish work back at home at 10pm with some amount of clothes sorting/laundry/etc.

It’s also very strange at times. I always worked in an office &/or for a consistent hourly wage before this. One of the most difficult and unpredicted parts of running OverAttired is that my whole livelihood depends on people coming in and making purchases. I start out every day opening up the shop with a knot in my stomach – will I make enough to pay rent today?

Promotion:

Promotion of the shop, a form of self-promotion, is the most difficult part of my job.

We all know businesses that we think should make more of an effort in promotion. The simple reason that they don’t is because it’s very hard.

I (like to) think I do a larger-than-normal amount of promotion for OverAttired, and do a better-than-normal job at it.

So I spend a lot of time in mental anguish.

Through all that, word-of-mouth is the very best form of shop-promotion I could ask for. If you’ve done it, then I can’t thank you enough. Please keep OverAttired in mind. Referrals and recommendations have opened far more doors than I’d ever be able to open on my own.

Finances:

Well, we’re doing better than when we started!

I’ve found that we make money through three ways:

  1. The shop, being a shop. Open good, consistent hours, with great vintage clothing, good sizing spread, alterations, and super-friendly and helpful, unpretentious staff.
  2. Shop Events. When we stay open a bit late, and generally have many more people browsing our racks than usual. I don’t count these as regular shop days, because everything about an Event Day is different.
  3. Etsy sales.

For the first few months the shop income was about 1/3 each way, but recently etsy has been creeping up to 40%. It’s difficult to know how to attribute this, and I’m just as unsure if it’s going to remain this way. In the first few months we were still trying to find our footing on etsy, and our Events had boosts from a small handful of large events (Soft Opening, Grand Opening, etc.).

Shop Hours:

I’ve now standardized the shop hours to 11-8 Daily, which is working great, and I don’t see it changing.

I tried to close on Mondays, and found that people came in on Tuesdays asking why we were closed when they tried to visit on Monday.

I tried to open at 10am on weekends, but learned that nobody visits downtown Oakland at 10am.

I tried to open at Noon on weekdays, but learned that enough people take an 11-Noon lunch.

I field a fair amount of friends suggesting I close the shop for a day, mostly for my own sanity. Put simply, we can’t afford it. When it becomes a thing we can afford, I probably still won’t do it, because I really like the idea of being open when people want us to be open, which means consistent hours, and remaining open until 8pm.

Happily, we don’t have a “most busy” day, and we don’t even really have a “most busy” hour!

We get a fair amount of customers throughout the day. Though difficult to notice at all, our “waves” of customers happen in the following slots:

11am-1pm: Stopping in on lunch break.

~3pm: Afternoon break. I’m amused that this wave is consistent with my past office job desire to get up and take a short walk around the same time.

5-7pm: After work crowd.

7-8pm: People coming from (or going to) Longitude.

Events:

I started out gleefully throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what stuck.

And eventually exhaustion set in.

I’m now hosting events about twice/month, which I think works the best for everyone involved – we get time to make use of Upstairs in other ways, and we don’t have to spend the end of every week prepping for an event.

I’m still happy to keep trying new things, because I think it’s fun, and I never know how well an idea will work.

As examples – A weekly period episodic show didn’t work. I had to cancel the Miss Fisher Wednesdays. Lots of other ideas have worked well, such as hosting The Vintage Style Council, which we enjoyed so much, we’re very excited to have them back this Saturday! https://overattired.com/eveningsalon/

Improvements:

My list of improvements continues to grow faster than I can cross them off. They grow so fast, I now have lists for short-term and long-term improvements.

And because I love instant gratification, I’ve mostly been focusing on the short-term list.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve hung the boat (https://www.instagram.com/p/BDj3_94jfGk/?taken-by=overattired) upstairs (then re-hung, then re-hung), painted the upstairs/mezzanine “front wall”, hung a low-profile chandelier (https://www.instagram.com/p/BEFbve_DfLS/?taken-by=overattired) in front of that front wall – which had to be dropped in front of the boat (there was a distinct order to all this), “properly” wired the chandelier into our electrical – it’s now on a switch/timer, so I can leave it on for two hours after closing (as a form of advertising), and override the timer when we want to keep it lit longer for evening events.

Next on the shortlist is to hang molding in the stairwell to hang thread spools, mount lighting under/inside the awning to shine on our gold window lettering, and finally hang our awning sign.

Before moving to a mostly bi-weekly event schedule, I didn’t have any time for improvements.

Goals:

One of the (MANY) surprising things I realized in owning a Brick&Mortar business is the stacked-up costs associated.

Here are my very generalized daily goals for OverAttired:

$125 – We made shop rent! For those first few months, this was an accomplishment. Currently, we make this goal probably 90% of the time.

$250 – And we paid an employee! I can’t stress how important it is for OverAttired to have an employee here (aside from me) nearly every day. I’m still working alone ~1 day/week, and it’s my least-productive, most-depressing day by far. And the shop makes less money (statistically).

$500 – And we’ve covered the cost of what we’ve sold! And maybe, Sam got paid. Six months in, profits still go right back into the shop. I’ve spent money at Home Depot multiple times/week every week since we signed the lease. I don’t know when that ends.

$1000 – (on a non-event day) PARTY!  The staff of the day go out for a drink next door after closing on OverAttired’s dime!

I started publicizing these goals to the staff about a month ago. We all laughed at the $1000 goal. It was hilarious. At the time we’d only hit $500 a couple times.

I am elated to be able to say that we’ve now made this goal TWICE!

So that was great. Like crying-with-happiness great. Those two days were a taste of “yeah, I think we can really make this a sustainable thing!” Someday.

Kickstarter Rewards:

We’ve fulfilled about half the rewards.

Rewards that take the largest time commitments (ties and hair flowers, for example) have been the most difficult.

The shop is barely breaking even, and if we moved a lot of our time toward making these things, it would torpedo the shop.

This reality is one of my biggest regrets, and we’re still working on a way to remedy it (that doesn’t also kill the business).

We have a plan in progress to make headway on them next week.

I’ll update on our progress (or lack of) after that week.

Customer Database:

This idea was a fan-favorite, and I’m very happy to report that we’re making a lot of progress on Version 1 of the Clientele Dossier! We don’t have a release date yet, mostly because as soon as it works, we’ll release it, and alas, it doesn’t work yet.

Customer Split:

We commonly get asked about our customer split, a thing I care very much about too, because it heavily factors into the eternal question of “Do we stay at this location and keep paying lots of rent?”

So far, the answer is Yes.

In a little more detail, the shop location confirmed a lot of my expected needs – as much foot traffic as we can afford, easy walking distance to Bart, parking, neighborhood as nice as we can afford, and only in the “inner Bay Area” of Oakland/SF/Berkeley.

The added “bonus” of being nearly-next-door to Longitude, our favorite Tiki bar, is wonderful.

Our customer base is about half Friends and half Walk-ins, with some fuzzy area in the middle, as repeat Walk-in customers quickly become our friends (Hi Max! Hi Bri! Hi 200 other fabulous friends I’ve made through the shop!!)

Thank You. 

For taking the chance on this idea, and for believing in it, and in us.

Unrelated to our general backer list, I’d like to personally thank my (now fellow) friends that own their own local small business. I quizzed you about things, sometimes very personal, and you never declined. You were encouraging, yet realistic.

My heart leaps a little higher whenever I think about you, and I have all the respect and admiration for you.

James – http://www.bridgepointmusic.com

Suzanne – http://longitudeoakland.com

Autumn – http://www.darkgarden.com

Robynne – http://www.yelp.com/biz/a-revelation-in-fit-oakland

Oran – http://www.relicvintagesf.com

Jim – http://www.piedmontpiano.com

Laurie & Rick – http://artdecocollection.com

Terra, thank you for believing in this, and all your help and knowledge. OverAttired wouldn’t be nearly as great without your constant input and creativity.

To our Angel backer, thank you for the leap of faith. At the perfect time, it meant everything to me that someone would believe in me that much, and it really helped push us over. I don’t want to imagine what would’ve happened without your help.

To the Kickstarter Team, for creating a tool that I had previously used to help fund dozens of other dreams, and then got the chance to use it to fund my own. We wouldn’t be here without Kickstarter.

Paul and Justin of Zoetic Labs – your work on our Video and Graphics remains excellent. I think back to my previous ideas for a Kickstarter Video, and you surpassed them in so many ways! I also get compliments on our logo all the time. It’s perfect. OverAttired business cards are nearly ubiquitous among friends. http://zoeticlabs.com

Six months in. We’re not actually profitable, but we’re breaking even (meaning I don’t take a salary). We’re doing better than standards/expectations.

I couldn’t have done this without you all, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Best Regards,

Sam Simmons
Proprietor
OverAttired Vintage Fashion
OverAttired.com

The State of our Victorian Balls in 2015

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A little history…

We’ve been blessed with 6 beautiful Gaskell Victorian Balls every year since I started dancing, oh so many years ago (really, a lot of them).

Recently, they haven’t been pulling in the numbers, and are now throwing a single Ball every year in the autumn (Halloween).

I (and hopefully others) don’t want to accept this, so I started my own Victorian Balls, very much in the spirit of the Gaskell Balls, compromising to a Seasonal baseline: With the Gaskell Ball still happening in the Autumn, I threw a Victorian Ball in the Spring, Summer, and Winter.

My intention is absolutely not to compete with the Gaskell Ball, and I’d be very happy to bow out if they went back to throwing a handful of Balls every year.

So here’s how that’s worked out.

I’m going to generalize some numbers where it’s not proper for me to expose contract specifics.

I try to keep my Guest List as small as possible, because these do take a considerable amount of time & money to produce, and if I started adding friends to the Guest List, the list would grow without end.

My Guest List currently includes The Band, The Gaskells Committee (which I feel is the respectable thing to do), and our Volunteers. After a year of doing this, we’ve gotten “streamlined” to 5 door volunteers and 2 on snacks/drinks. I’d prefer another volunteer assisting me running the event, and 1-2 teachers for the dance lesson before the Ball, but we haven’t done that consistently.

That might sound like a lot (at least it does to me), but we’ve tried less and it really doesn’t work out well. I don’t add any volunteers for Band Liaison (though I’m sure they’d love it if we did), Setup, and Cleanup.

I’ve settled into charging $20 in advance or $25 at the door, a rate I’d really prefer not to change.

A common question is if I’d prefer a ticket bought in advance (of which the event gets $19) or waiting and paying $25 at the door. The answer is always that I’d prefer advance sales, and I’m pretty sure other events agree. We use advance sales to gauge interest, make event purchases, and I’m able to have less of a large amount of money in “Ball escrow”.

Our “Rite of Spring” Ball had 101 (paid) guests, Midsummer had 96, and our recent Holiday Ball had 108.

My “large bills” are essentially $2000 for the band & venue, and another $200 in “soft costs”: food&drink, flyers, etc.

This works out to a “break even” number of about 110 paid guests. As you can see, we’ve never quite hit that.

I’m hoping that the additional promotion afforded by owning OverAttired Vintage Fashion, as well as additional promotion my shop gets by “producing” the Ball will help offset these expenses.

Do I start rolling in money for every guest after 110? No. My costs on a few things go up as my attendance goes up. And this would be a nice problem to have, given the current state.

I can’t speak to other events, but from what I’ve heard (directly), things are about the same (or worse) for everyone involved in Event Production. You can take this as a gentle reminder to thank your favorite Event Producer next time you see them. In addition to money, most of us pour countless hours of effort into these that are never compensated. Please don’t take that as a complaint, it’s just how it is. Nobody is walking away with handfuls of money. Nobody.

Compliments and Suggestions are always appreciated.

I’m not currently interested in a price hike, a venue change to a worse (or more expensive) venue, or changing the band.

I have every intention of producing three more Balls in 2016, though all are currently unscheduled (the Spring Ball will be in March or April, but I really just haven’t gotten that far yet).

I also produce a lot of fun events at OverAttired Vintage Fashion! Coming soon we have a Boxing Day Holiday Party & Sale on 12/26, and our Grand Opening Celebration on 1/30!

To everyone who came to the three Balls I produced this year: THANK YOU. It means so much to me that we get to do this wonderful thing.

The OverAttired Black Friday Sale!

black friday

We’re excited to host our BIGGEST and BEST sale of the year!

For Black Friday Weekend, everything BLACK in our shop will be an astounding 40% OFF!

And everything else in our shop will be an amazing 20% OFF!

Come visit us this holiday weekend!

We have enough vintage clothing to fill a shop!

We also have Furniture! Accessories! Barware! and Gift Certificates! ALL included in our 20% OFF shop-wide sale!

Everything on our ETSY is also on sale!

We’re closed on Thanksgiving Day, like any respectable shop.

We’re OPEN Friday-Sunday 10:00am – 8:00pm!

Come support local business!

You can also pop next door to Longitude, our favorite Tiki Bar, to enjoy 10% off their tasty beverages and food when you show them your purchase from OverAttired over the weekend!

OverAttired Soft Opening Day!

Daytime Sign Cropped

I’m so, SO excited to announce that OverAttired Vintage Fashion is OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

Our opening day is Tuesday, October 20th!
We’d love to see you! Come on by to be the first to browse our racks and sip complimentary sparkling cider.

Learn about our future shop plans that I’ve been too busy to write about!

Meet our two fabulous, talented shopgirls – Miss Williams and Miss K!

This is YOUR shop, just as much as it’s ours. We’d love to hear feedback on what we’ve created so far, and future directions!

Here’s the Facebook Event, if you’d like to RSVP there :)
We’ll throw open the doors at Noon on Tuesday 10/20, and remain open until at least 10pm!

Our regular shop hours, starting 10/20:
Tue-Fri Noon-8pm
Sat-Sun 10am-8pm
Closed Mondays

your humble, exhausted, super-excited new shop owners,
Mr. Simmons & Miss Lenk

 

Our beautiful window signage by those fashionable swinging kids at Golden West in Berkeley! Thank you so much Derek and Tina!

Our beautiful window signage by those fashionable swinging kids at Golden West in Berkeley! Thank you so much Derek and Tina!

 

FAQ:
* Can I bring in a garment for mending/alterations? Yes! We’re also happy to make alterations to vintage clothes purchased from OverAttired at a discounted rate.
* Is your measurement database up yet? Soon. We’re working on it.
* Do you buy vintage too? Yes! 1960s and earlier.
* Can I use my Gift Certificate from your Kickstarter? It’ll be waiting for you at the shop :)
* When is your Grand Opening? In about a month we’ll have a true Grand Opening including the upstairs floor, which is currently still in progress.

SHOP PREP DAY 3

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Have I mentioned that I’d love to find a truck/van to borrow?

Here’s what I took in today. What you can see: fan, two floor lamps, ladder, and a large box of glassware.

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When pulling the previous tenant’s screws out of the wall on Thursday, I had to wait a day to get the last two out, because I needed my “strange bits” set. Who the heck mounts things with 3″ long T-screws?!?

This cabinet in the corner. We are not friends. I got the door off fine (not shown), but there are 5 shelves, each able to easily support my weight, each held on with a dozen 4″ long screws which have been sunk, filled, and painted over, so it’s really difficult to even FIND them. This is nuts. I really don’t want this cabinet in the corner, but currently it is winning.

I finally finished scraping that small section of floor (the upper corner isn’t paint, it’s some sort of filler. I’m leaving it for now). I think I’m going to walk away from the floor issue for awhile, I have more important tasks.

I’d really like Saturday to be “paint prep day”, and be able to get all that done so we can start painting early next week. lots of wall cleaning, lots of spakle to fill in, and somehow taking apart that corner cabinet.

Please contact me if you’d like to help with paint prep day &/or painting next week (probably Mon/Tue).
Please please contact me if you have a truck/van I can borrow for a couple days!

EBMUD Update: Still no water. I’m so unhappy about this. I can’t even contact them again until Tuesday of next week.

Shop Prep Day 2

Removed the vinyl logo/lettering from the previous shop. I’m looking into adding my logo in a similar vinyl fashion, or getting it hand painted (which would be preferred, but I’m not sure my bank account would prefer it). I’ll also get a quote on a sandwich board while I’m at it.

Did not remove the old shop hours, which I just discovered are painted on the front, so I’ll try to tackle that tomorrow.

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Floor discoveries: Oh hey, all that dark grey isn’t the actual color of the concrete! That was quite a surprise! It’s nice(r) reddish concrete underneath, so my paint scraping job has gone from scraping the light grey section in the front of the store to scraping the entire ground floor. Guys, paint scraping is hard.

The third photo is my electrical box with the first coat dried on the left, and a second coat freshly applied on the right. I’m glad it looks a little less blue & shiny when dry.

Friday plans are to bring over some more stuff, get water turned on, spakle some areas that still need it, scrape/sand down some areas that have been spakled, more floor scraping, some fixture removal from the previous tenant, and prep for painting on Saturday. I’d really like to paint on Saturday. We’ll see how that actually goes.

I’ve gotten offers to help, and want to reply with an emphatic Yes Please!

In addition to the painting, sometime next week I’ll be moving a bunch of stuff over, and I’d love some help.

If you have a truck or van I can borrow for a few days (not a few hours), that would be really wonderful.

So Much News!

We signed a lease today!
I’m so so so excited!
OverAttired Vintage Fashion will be at 14th & Webster in Oakland!

First Photo plus words Keys!

 

Day 1 – 9/2/15

Found out there’s no running water. Hope to have that turned on tomorrow. Painting is really difficult without water.

Bought a Tester size of the paint color I’m going for – Deco Green by Ralph Lauren. Only the best, baby!

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I tested it on a hanger (more to come on painted hangers much much later) and a square patch of the wall. It feels too glossy & bright to me right now, but the paint wasn’t dry yet. I’ll be back tomorrow to see how it looks after drying overnight, and perhaps apply another coat to give a more real view of what we’re looking at.

Started to peel off some of the previous tenant signage on the windows, glad that isn’t going to be too hard.

Previous tenant also left a portion of the floor (about 15 square feet) painted, so I started to scrape that up. That’s going to be slow going.

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I moved in our first piece of furniture – our kitchen stool! Hopefully that will be gone by the party.

Paradise Comes Full Circle

1976: Stevie Wonder writes a song called Pastime Paradise about, you know, the past.

1995: Coolio copies(covers) the song 20 years later, renames it to Gangsta’s Paradise, changes the lyrics to modern gangs emulating past (American) gangs.

2015: Postmodern Jukebox cover the Coolio song another 20 years later, changing the lyrics & setting to be more literally about past (American) gangs.

12 HOURS LEFT!!

Today is the very last day of our Kickstarter! It’s make or break day- if we don’t hit our goal by midnight TONIGHT, we don’t get any money and you don’t get any fabulous rewards.
We are getting very close, and only have about $10,000 left to raise today! We raised about that much on the very first day of the campaign, so I believe we can do it again today!
This is your last chance! If you have been meaning to pledge, do it today! If you have already pledged, and can increase that pledge at all, please do! If you have any more friends who might not have heard about our campaign, please share this with them and encourage them to pledge as well!
We are so grateful for the amazing support from our community so far! Please help us to reach our goal so that we can bring you the most amazing vintage store possible!

The very best things you can do to help is Pledge on the Kickstarter, share it with friends, and Like &/or Comment on other OverAttired posts so more people see it on our last day of the campaign!
Thank you all SO MUCH!