Sunday, May 31, 2009

The economy, the Law of Attraction and Local Businesses

As I sit at my computer today, I am writing with a strange sense of clarity and conviction on the state of our economic health and an empowering feeling that we have control over our situation. There are many personal philosophies and beliefs merging into one connected mindset today, so I thought it best to jot them down before fleeting.

Feeling that we have some type of control over a situation is empowering. It is an infectious and healing power. For a while, there has been a palatable fog in the air of financial despair. The unified voice stating that the greed of others has unraveled our state of stability. As a relatively new and naïve small business owner making furniture, I have held onto our business philosophy that we must be strong allies to small brick and mortar businesses. There have been many missed opportunities to work with importers, internet and catalog companies along the way; however, we truly believe that if we, as one small, family company, strive to protect small retail shops, that it will better our community. We heard many grumblings from many non-brick and mortar shops by choosing this path, but, more importantly, we’ve built some strong and rewarding relationships with the shops who support us. Small steps lead to great strides... or “With every deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see." Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919). That has been one of our principle tenets guiding us through owning a small business.

While we firmly believe we are doing our part as wholesalers, that is, carefully screening potential customers to be sure they own an actual brick & mortar store, I have only made some attempts at the other end of the economic equation. That is, I have tried to support our town’s local, small businesses. This part of the equation, for me, tends to be a little difficult because we tend to allow ourselves such little time to run errands and need to consolidate our time so tightly that we forget about the “little guys”. For our business, we have managed to weave in almost daily support our local, family owned hardware store and try to avoid supporting the big, chain home improvement stops. There is our local favorite sandwich shop and of course our local farms to purchase our produce but that is about it. It was not until I saw a hand painted sign on the side of the road the day before mother’s day that said “Support your Local Shops, buy your flowers from us” that I took a fresh look around and saw at least 20 white tents with wilted flowers for sale. I was struck by this simple sign because, until this moment, I thought I was a strong advocate for small businesses. How could I have overlooked something so clear? I had purchased many mothers’ day flowers at the supermarket and from some random tent vendor on the side of the road never having a second thought. That has resonated with me over the past few weeks and I have been trying to perpetuate my devotion to made in the USA with our online newsletter, The Quill and Well.

It is easy to get swept away by the anti-import band wagon but I found this approach to be somewhat counterproductive, as it feeds on negative energy. Also, it feeds a sense that we are victims and does not foster a sense of being able to “do something about it”. It is a slippery slope to pessimism when you are focusing your energies on what is wrong and who is to blame. Therefore, instead of giving more attention to issues pertaining to imported items, I thought it best to channel my energies to highlighting things we want, such as more attention and support for American Made products. My dear friend Stephanie Monahan, a talented folk artist with whom I met while displaying at trade shows and I decided to focus our energies on American artisans and the dedicated shop owners who support us!

Ironically, we continually struggle with enforcing our criteria for choosing featured artisans and shop owners because to truly support Made in America takes devotion and sometimes saying no. Shops who primarily carry hand-made goodes understand that finding American artisans is becoming more difficult and yet, it is by their offering unique, hand crafted items that sets their shops apart from others. It is simple to say “Buy American” or to paste an American flag on the bumper of your car. It is, I believe, a bit harder to live the bumper sticker, so to speak. It takes dedication and awareness and a positive American attitude.

I have been “complaining” lately to friends who are willing indulge me about the poor attendances of the trade shows. I do believe that vendors/artisans and shop owners are in a relationship and if one fails, they both suffer. Trade shows have been slow lately, an inevitable sign of the economic times. However, it shops are not showing their support to the artisans who travel for days to set up at a show, then the artisans will no longer attend. This dynamic is much intertwined and it can be viewed as a co-dependent relationship. I hear time and time again at shows who is to blame for the lack of buyers. At weaker moments, I find myself joining in and my husband and friend are quick to help me out of the negative zone… I try to quickly steady myself and focus on what I can do to be sure I am presenting my company in the best light, staying “fresh” and creating a welcoming display. On a weirdly related point, I have been reading the Laws of Attraction (by Michael J Losierwhich), which are, in essence, a series of self-help books that teach us we attract what we put out there. So, as you can see, I am struggling with making sense out of this ailing subculture of trade shows and wholesales to brick and mortar shops and trying to consistently view it through a more positive lens. I have been at a loss for a new and positive way to view our situation. Thus, this has been my mini-journey to economic enlightenment. Since I am dedicated to attracting positive energy, then positive energy and thoughts are what I must consistently put out there… right?

One could argue that the power of attraction led me to find an inspirational project that has helped me tether all of my whirling thoughts. I would say that I stumbled on this effort, but think I know better… I was wandering around the web looking for American artists when I found “The 3/50 Project” by Cinda Baxter. “This is it!” I thought to myself. There is a powerful message here. I believe this movement is telling us that we hold the power to change things. We are in control over our situation, including our economic health! We are not destined to be victims of the importers or an ailing economy. The 3/50 Project has a noble slogan “Saving the Brick & Mortars our Nation is Built on”. I felt so completely validated when I read this. I found myself inspired by the 3/50 Project and began looking at my community in a new light. My thoughts quickly wandered to a tiny little family owned sports memorabilia shop next to the place where we buy pretzels. I went in this shop just once and left two feet in the front door because it was cluttered. I am going back there again this week and buying father’s day gifts for all the dads in our life. Oh, and of course I am going to buy all of my flowers from the local flower shop that made the hand painted sign, too 

This new perspective was a breath of fresh air for me! I felt all of the cynicisms and doubt I hadn’t realized I was carrying melt away. The frustration I felt for shops who did not attend the shows was replaced with understanding of the greater roles you and I play in our economic recovery.

So, here’s our recovery plan… It is akin to the “pay it forward” philosophy that has guided many wise folks long before me and will light a path long after I am gone. Change begins with one person. More specifically, it begins with one purchase  Please visit the 3/50 Projects website to see how you can make a change in your community. It is a simple yet contagious notion that will help bring us all together, again! Thank you for taking your time to read my rantings, I do hope they were of some use and interest to you 

Beth Merryfield
Co-Editor, The Quill and Well
President of Primitiques, Ltd.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The New Striped Buffet Server - Rayé Secouez Le Serveur

Well Beth and Bill have done it again. Here is some eye-candy of the new Striped Buffet Server or as we are now TRYING to say "Rayé Secouez Le Serveur". I have to tell you this piece is fantastic!!! So much better than my french. Having grown up around a family of fluent french speaking people I can follow and piece together a conversation in the most rudimentary ways. I think my biggest achievement in my youth was the continual repetition of "attente mère de cinq minutes" which translates to "wait five minutes mother". Maybe we will name one of our designs that. I certainly won't have any trouble pronouncing it.
The attention to detail on the hardware adds so much to the overall look of this server. The knobs are actually glass which Beth has aged in her own special way.
There is a veritable plethora of color choices on this piece. Whatever you want is pretty much whatever you can get.
The color choices would include not just the base color but the stripe colors as well. If you want alternating colors on your stripes... its done. If you want only one color of stripe... its done. If you want two colors or maybe even three... its done. However, I have to admit that the color choices on this piece are perfect.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Primi-Chic....

Today we shot Primi-Chic photos and it was a rough day. I shot around 150 photos and nothing seemed to go right. The lighting was wrong. The camera wasn't charged enough. The antique silver trophies had toooo much light when the flash went off. We tossed those to side. The product is fantastic but the photographer was having a really off day. Oh... that would be me. It might have had something to do with lack of sleep and the two pots of coffee I was working on. Plus did I forget to have lunch??? Yeah!!!! Despite all the set backs I did get some great shots of the new curved stepping stool with handle and a few candles with lavender bags. I thought I might show you these and then hit the ground running in the morning.

This is the large bowl from a previous post and the new stepping stool. The bowl is called "cuvette de fleur de lis" and the stepping stool is called "selles de progression de ménage". Both are shown in dirty creme' which in french is known as "crème modifiée".

You can see the handle cut out on the top of the stool and the curves on the underlying edges. This piece is colored dirty creme' (crème modifiée).


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We Are Starting To Brain Storm....

Well, Memorial day is over and its time to get back to work. Beth and I are in the beginning planning stages for the upcoming markets in June. We will be showing our wares at the Market Square order writing and Cash N'Carry shows and we have a lot of planning to do. This year we will be working on 5 booths. Four at order writing and one BIG one at cash n'carry. The order writing booths will be Samplers Country, Primitiques, Primi-Chic and The Quill And Well. The Quill And Well booth isn't so much an order writing booth as it is a "meet the American Artisan" booth. We are promoting "Made In The USA" goodes from a variety of artisans in various mediums.
The cash n'carry booth will have a plethora of goodes from the aforementioned companies. We have moved the trailer and believe it or not are ready to begin the long process of loading the goodies upon completion. Having said that we will be showcasing some of the pieces we will be bringing to the show here on this blog in the next couple of weeks. Beth has begun production of new furniture pieces for order writing. These NEW designs for 2009 can be purchased and picked up at the end of the show. We will have a limited stock of show samples for puchase so they will be showcased here in advance. BUT, have no worry... If you miss the original you can still place an order. The smalls which I do can be ordered at the show however the antique props we will be using in our photos are all one of a kinds and should you see something you want just let us know. I wish I had some pictures of the new Primi-Chic furniture all decked out. Hopefully soon!!!! Until then this is what I can show you....

Its a pretty good bet that The Primi-Chic French Country booth might have some cheese and bread... I am all over it!!!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day.. We Will Always Remember

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Thibault Family Farm

Sad to say I was recently dismayed to hear that my great grandfathers dairy barn was purchased, taken down and moved to Connecticut. I had long since been planning the relocation of this lovely piece of family history myself but was unable to complete the deal due to the lack of property which we didn't own. When we finally moved last October I thought... GREAT... We will move in, get settled and begin making arrangements. Winter came and who would have thought it wouldn't be there in the spring. NO ONE moves a barn in the middle of winter... Do They?? Well, yes they do.

The barn was purchased over the winter and moved to Connecticut. Although I am sad to say it won't be mine I am happy in the knowledge that it did find a new home and a new life on someone else's property. My mother wasn't sure exactly what it was being used for but it certainly would have made a lovely shop or home. I know the picture doesn't do it justice but in its day it was a sight to behold. Two stories with a large cupola that once had a copper or brass pig on the top. The gentleman that had purchased the farm where the barn had stood sold the weather vane topper to a couple that lived in New York City for a decoration in their home. Having said that I am happy to report that I do currently have some of the barn in my living room. When we last visited the farm I almost fell through the floor. I forgot my mother had warned me that this barn had a basement. Yes... I did say basement. My cousin caught me before I took that last step when the floor began to crumble beneath me. We were able to remove some the wood. Then we took some of the red exterior walls and some of the milk house wood and a few other pieces here and there. Its not easy to explain to airport security why you have luggage filled with old wood. Trust me... I know this for a fact and am happy to report that although the barn is gone it is not forgotten and I am happy knowing that I do still own a small piece of one of the family farms.

Friday, May 22, 2009

NEW Primi-Chic Bowl With Colored Balls

I thought you would like to see another new Primi-Chic piece we photographed today. This is a large hand-hewn bowl in dirty white and pale pink. The outside of the bowl has a diamond pattern on it and the inside has fleur-de-lis. The colored balls are actually a dried that have been painted 6 different colors in pale shades. I love this bowl with the chip out of it on the side. It looks like it is worn from use in a French farm kitchen. I can just see it being used to turn out the dough for a large loaf of bread. YUMMY!!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

NEW - Windsor Furniture

"We are just tickled to be able to offer our Primitiques Distributors our limited supply of HAND MADE Windsor Chair, Benches, Rockers & Writing Chairs. We can only offer our windsor line to Distributors because they are not mass produced and we can only fill a limited quantity of chairs, bench or rocker orders a quarter. therefore, we thought it fair to offer our windsors to distributors, first. If there happen to be "left overs", then we will post them on our Blog & bring them to Cash & Carry Shows.

Our chairs are handcrafted from start to finish... starting with the harvesting of the trees from our chair maker's very own property, hand planing & other marks of the chair maker's hand, making each one unique and just simply wonderful! You will see the handmade quality of our Windors & their whimsical nature, such as widdled- looking spindles.

We will regularly post our Windsor Chair availability. As of 5/22/09, we have the following available for anyone to purchase:

1 @ 5 foot bench- Black over Mustard.

1 Sac Back Arm Chair- Watermelon Paint Combo.

Set of 4 Sac Back arm chairs that we will be using for our Order Writing Booth in PA (June 26-28) that will be available for purchase (to be taken at the show's end).

Two Fan Back Side Chairs, as well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Well we are getting really excited around the mill and studio!!! We have decided to unveil the new Primi-Chic line at the Market Square order writing show in June. This is our new French Farmhouse line. Beth put together the flyer and I thought it would be fun to give you a sneak-peak.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Heritage Market Shows - Fort Wayne

Well we made it to the Fort Wayne Heritage Market Cash N'Carry. Whooppeee!!!! It wasn't a long drive and the set up was wonderful. I managed to get a few shots of the booth as we were setting up and selling. If you happen to be a store buyer and in the area please stop by.

You can find all the information about the show on The Heritage Market website at The wholesale show to the trade ONLY is Tuesday in Fort Wayne at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum. After that show we will all caravan to Medina Ohio for another wholesale show on Thursday at The Medina County Community Center.

This is Bill Merryfield working hard helping people.

If you get a chance to come on out for either show we will see you there!!!!

This is Mike and Peggy Corrigan from Bearing in Love. They have the booth across from us. Doesn't Mike look precious holding a bouquet of flowers???

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Primitiques You Tube

These are the latest updates for the Primitiques line. You gotta love You Tube!!! We are shooting pictures of some new items that were completed today at the Fort Wayne show. Sorry... you will have to wait a week or so to see them. But, let me tell you... the new boxes are simply wonderful.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Custom Cabinets

Well Beth and Bill have done it again. Talk about an AWESOME cabinet!!! For anyone that doesn't know, Beth and Bill design and create custom cabinets. Always a plus when you want something with a more personal touch in the colors you like. Beth designed and made this piece for her friend Ruth. Its a corner cabinet with a triple shelf and an additional cupboard for the wall. They added some aged metal hinges on the upper left side of the corner cabinet to make it look like there was once a door there. A door worn off over time from use and love. I think it gives the piece that extra special look. The colors are of course my colors. Light green over salmon over brown and the inside is drab brown over light salmon. Is it Cristmas yet??? Can she fit it in my stocking??? I want one!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day!!!!