Shop Small: Who do you support, when you shop small?

Nov 17, 20152
Shopping Small. It's a movement these days. Back to our roots, supporting our neighbors, and buying locally-handmade items. It's heartwarming, feel-good, and economical. But who exactly are you supporting, when you shop small? When you shop small with Carver Junk Company, you're supporting Chad & Brandy, Allison, Aimee, Caitlin, Carol, Brian, Colette, Lee, Gabe, Erica, Jennifer, Lauryn, Aaric, Cheryl, Rob, Kirsten, Kristin, Naomi, Heidi, Katie, Stacy, Darcy, Dave, and dozens of other local makers. When you shop small with Carver Junk Company, you're supporting our dreams and goals. You're supporting our story.

The CJC Story

We often tell people we started this business on a whim. Which is sort of true, but not entirely. Here's how it happened:

I {Brandy} have always been a DIY-er, in the sense that I like to try new things. I rarely get very deep into a craft or hobby - instead my hobby is really learning a little about a lot of different things. In my mind, that always lent itself to a future business selling locally handmade arts & crafts. I could create new things seasonally, and I could support others that did the same, by selling their items. It got added to the bucket list {a real-life, actual list, from which I check things off} for retirement.

When Chad & I met, he worked in sewer & water construction, which meant long days, and sometimes weeks on the road. I worked {and still do} in a corporate setting. In 2012, we were buying our first home together, and he somehow convinced me to move to Carver, where he grew up. I wanted to live in a neighborhood, where we could walk to shops & restaurants. We looked at 50 houses in South Minneapolis, and 1 house in Carver.

We put in the offer on our new house; a 1,000 sq ft home with a huge yard. A house within walking distance of restaurants {ok...bars} and all these great little "occasional" stores in downtown Carver. As we walked through the stores, a month before we were set to close on our house, I kept thinking to myself "this is exactly what I want to do someday."  We bought an antique warehouse cart, refinished it in the driveway of our old townhouse, for the living room at our new house. All the while, thinking to myself "We could do this." Never saying it out loud.

[caption id="attachment_2376" align="aligncenter" width="720"]391494_10151025909247029_1212824734_n The coffee table that started it all.[/caption] The night before we closed on our house, we did our final inspection, and headed into downtown Carver to celebrate with a drink. We passed by one of those little stores, and noticed it was vacant, with a For Lease sign in the window. Without saying a word, I dialed the number. Chad turned to me at the same time, and said "call them." Without ever having talked about opening a business together, this felt like a sign. The next day, we closed on our house at Noon, and signed the lease to our new store at 1:00. [caption id="attachment_2375" align="aligncenter" width="343"]531201_10150991763152029_1451028056_n Our new house and our new store. All within one hour.[/caption] We jumped right in. It was 300 sq-ft, and open one weekend a month. Maybe it would be enough extra money for Chad to quit his 60-80 hr/week job that took him away from home so often. Maybe the extra few hundred dollars a month would be enough for him to stay home with future babies {because we weren't having kids with him gone that often}. Now that we lived in Carver, my salary went a bit further, and this seemed like it might be just enough to let us start planning our family. [caption id="attachment_2374" align="aligncenter" width="720"]417478_10150993056516822_1011948035_n Our new landlord took our photo after signing the lease![/caption] We worked a lot of hours that first year. We moved from our 300 sq-ft space to an 800 sq-ft space in a basement down the street. We brought in vendors to help us fill space, and we grew our Facebook following to over 10,000. We moved again the following year, to a 900 sq-ft space with no stairs. We had a baby. We opened a second store last year, and have nearly 40,000 fans on social media. We launched a website, brought in many more local vendors, and Chad runs this business full-time. We've been able to hire another full-time employee, and some part-time folks. [caption id="attachment_2377" align="aligncenter" width="720"]The first Carver Junk Company location, the night before Grand Opening. The first Carver Junk Company location, the night before Grand Opening.[/caption] We could only have imagined what Carver Junk Company would become when we signed that lease, on a whim. And it's become what it is today because of a lot of hard work, and a community that supports shopping small.

When you shop small, you help us take our daughter to the community center for swimming lessons. You allow us to spend our money at other local businesses - like the restaurant down the street. You enable us to give back, to support local charities and civic groups. You allow us to give the girl scout from Chaska another place to sell her cookies. You allow us to give the dog rescue from Hopkins a place to hold fundraisers. You enable us to bring in more and more makers from our local community, so they too can realize their dreams.

We hope to share more stories from our makers, from now until Nov 28th. Small Business Saturday is the biggest day of the year for small business. Carver Junk Company will be stocked full, at both stores, with handmade & vintage gifts, decor, and furniture. RSVP to our Small Business Saturday event here. 

And, from the bottoms of our hearts - THANK YOU. Thank you for enabling our dreams, and supporting our families.

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