Because every week should be Small Business Week, we’re shining a spotlight on the brightest Mom-and-Pop shops across the United States. To talk shop, we sat down on a vintage Eames chaise across from co-owners Ty and Lynne McDaniel.
What was the process of opening like?
Lynne: We began hoarding furniture away in a 3-car garage and got our inventory together. I went out and found a space here in this neighborhood, and I signed the lease and said “we’re official!” Ty was still going to work and he would come home and take his suit off and just start painting or running new electrical – doing whatever we needed to do in the shop to open.
Ty: She kind of shoved me off the ledge. It was like being pushed off a ledge and into water. Now she says to swim and I’ve never swum a day in my life! I had to learn. Who are the designers? Who are the furniture makers? Why is this furniture here? What is mid-century modern furniture? What is Art Deco furniture? What is French Revival? What is this stuff made out of? Why do people like this furniture? It’s a lot of things. I think the mid-century modern style is timeless.
Lynne: He’s an expert now. He really is. His opinion, his curation, his aesthetic. He’s extremely well-regarded.
What is WOW?
Lynne: It stands for “West of Western.” Meaning West of Western Avenue. We’re turning the image of this neighborhood, which used to be negative, into something positive. This is a small business shopping district now and we’re growing together. The big boxes won’t be able to get in because we’re hunkered down. I want to be sure everyone over here has good, strong, tight leases, with options to renew, so we can keep growing and getting stronger. It’s almost like a magnet effect. Someone wrote an article and they named me “the Goddess of WOW” and I hope that I can live up to the expectations! If we stick together, we’re going to the top together.
What’s your role, Ty, your vision?
Ty: We want to be different than the norm. My job is to make An Orange Moon the best vintage store in Chicago. Merchandising, curating, buying, other business aspects. But everything is a creative process. The whole store is a canvas. I want it to be an experience. A vibe. I hope we’ve created that.
Social media has offered powerful marketing opportunities to small businesses, but it can also be time-consuming. What’s your approach?
Lynne: My secret to social media is you don’t have to be on social media 24/7. Do what’s important and just speak from your heart. Whatever you do, stay positive. We hear too much negativity, just talk about the positive things. Talk about this beautiful new lamp you got in the shop and how somebody from Australia came in here and they just fell in love with you and you feel in love with them. Have fun.
How do you handle negotiation?
Ty: The negotiation is always fun. It’s a process. I like to phrase it “what’s the best you can do on this piece?” They put out a price. We come together. It’s bought. And in the store, 100% transparency is the only way of doing business.
What’s it like to work with your spouse?
Lynne: Let’s talk about the positives of working with your spouse. The positives are that your spouse knows every button, in a good way. You’re able to vent to your spouse at the end of the day. You can brainstorm new directions. You can pow-wow at any time. I don’t know if there’s anything better, really. The negative? You’re working with your spouse. (Laughs.) You guys are together all the time. You have to remember to maintain your own space and your own identity. That is so crucial. But the positive way outweighs the negative. I love it.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Ty: The furniture is beautiful. The pieces are what make people happy. But once people get their house furnished, that’s it – at least for a few years. So, we have to develop new customers on a regular basis. Consistently developing new customers is one of the biggest challenges. But we enjoy that.
This originally appeared on SmallBusinessRevolution.org.