20 December 2006

Bonjour! (and How We Came To Be)

Welcome to the very first blog for The Blissful Home, my funky little French farmhouse shop in Jackson Township, Canton, Ohio. I'm Abby and I'm the proprietor.

First, the essentials: We're located at 4605 Fulton Drive, NW, Canton, Ohio, 44718. For those of you who are local, this is on the corner of Fulton and Dressler Road. We can be reached at the shop at (330) 492-2500 or by e-mail at
theblissfulhome@yahoo.com. We're currently running Holiday Hours, which are Monday-Friday from 10-7 and Saturday and Sunday from 10-5. Yes, that's seven days a week through December 23rd. Then we revert to our regular Hours of Enjoyment, which are Monday-Friday from 10-6 and Saturday from 10-5.

Now, the story: This shop is the manifestation of my dream of a whimsical, vintage-inspired French farmhouse. I'm almost embarassed to admit this, but no, I've never been to France--I just have a rich fantasy life! A rich enough one to carry me out of a rather fulfilling career teaching high school English in Columbus, move me back to my hometown (a place, wonderful though it is, where I once vowed I'd never live again), and propel me into the adventure of my life: creating a specialty home and gift boutique--a lifestyle store, if you will--called The Blissful Home.
Here's how it all started: last year on Christmas Eve, my mom (Debbie) and I were eating lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. At that point, I'd been feeling strange stirrings pulling me back to Canton for about a month. I had no idea where they came from, but I suddenly and without a doubt knew deep within that I was meant to leave teaching, return to Canton, and become self-employed in some creative way. Over wonton soup and egg rolls, we conceived of a shop that reflected my whimsical tastes--a place where I myself would want to shop (I'm not a natural born shopper, ironically). Our original inspiration descended on us both so suddenly that it felt like a gift. We would open a shop together, merging my imaginative, storytelling, administrative, and managerial talents (I once managed 150 teenagers a day after all!) with my mom's talents for visual design and creativity. This was something we were both excited about, and something that felt larger than the two of us, motivated by something bigger than just little old us.

And so we began: the day after Christmas, we began planning for The Blissful Home. In February 2006, we opened our first little shop--in a barn! It was the perfect place for us to get rooted, learn the business (neither of us had any significant retail background at all), and hone our 'look.' And here's what that look quickly evolved into: whimsical, not traditional; French-inspired, not French-to-the-core; eclectic, not devoted to one point of view; vintage-y, not dusty; farmhouse, not country; fresh, not seen before, and always a little bit chic--never fussy or formal. One night on a cold and snowy cardrive home from our shop, I first spoke aloud the way I envisioned our unique style: "It's Eclectic Farmhouse Chic!" This became our tagline. We sold everything from Provencal-style pottery to apothecary candles to vintage bracelet kits, and people were responding.

For seven months, we worked hard to make our shop the best little shop it could be. We were constantly encouraged by our wonderful customers, who gave us valuable feedback that helped us become even more "us." They validated what we were thinking and envisioning. And so, after a short time, we knew it was time for us to take a leap. It was time to find a new home for The Blissful Home. The reasons for our cry of "onwards and upwards!" were many, but here is one: we needed to expand and we knew that Jackson Township was the place for us to do it. A community very close to where we both live, mom and I knew that a location closer to home (with a shorter drive) would be most beneficial as we grew, expanded, and worked longer hours.

We were blessed to find the perfect location, a building that was once the home of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles! After two months of construction, including knocking down walls and building new ones, gutting bathrooms and updating them, installing everything from a new ceiling to new floors, then painting and repainting THE ENTIRE SPACE no fewer than five times (!!!), we were ready to move in. Four weeks of long days and longer nights later, and we opened our doors. Our first day of business in our new, expanded location was December 1st, 2006.

So what a year 2006 has been. I left one career (after a Bachelor's AND a Master's degree, no less), moved back to my hometown, opened and closed one shop, and reopened my shop in a dream location. I have a lot to be thankful for...

Including you. If you are reading this blog, it is probably because you have shopped at my store, visited my store, or know someone who has. Thank you for all of your encouragement and support as we continue to learn, grow, travel to find the most unique and wonderful things we can for your homes, and get to know you. I LOVE meeting new people and having personal conversations with my customers, who often become fast friends. So please, when you come in, introduce yourself. It means a lot.

FYI, we have select holiday merchandise at 20% off. The day after Christmas, ALL holiday merchandise goes to 50% off the original price. This includes all of our ornaments, our retro Christmas houses, holiday Atelier (cartes postales, etc.), winter florals, bejewelled stockings, the most whimsical 12 Days of Christmas dessert plates you could ever imagine, and more.

We can't wait for you to visit us again. And Happy Holidays!