I started Polka Dot Creations eleven years ago, quite by mistake. I was no longer working outside of the home, and I had a one-year-old son. Without my outside income, I found that I was having trouble justifying the cost of buying myself the latest polymer clay books and videos. So, I looked into the idea of buying them in wholesale quantities and selling the extras on eBay.
It worked so well, that I increased my wholesale accounts little by little, until I had a nice side business going. I soon had enough traffic on my own website, and gave up eBay altogether. Sales were great for the first few years. I was making a profit and investing it all right back into the business.
I made it a point to stock each and every polymer clay book, video, and magazine I could get my hands on.
When the boxes of new magazine issues started piling up in my family room, I tried cutting back the number of issues I would order from each title. Then I tried eliminating entire titles altogether. Eventually I cut back to only three magazine subscriptions, out of the twenty or more I once had. The magazines finally became manageable, but the damage to my enthusiasm had already been done.
When the number of new polymer clay books being published started dwindling, so did the number of customers who looked to me for their book needs. Did you know that I do a reasonably-good business when it comes to preorders, but once the books are readily available, they just sit on the shelves gathering dust? Such is the fate of the small businessperson in an Amazon.com world, I suppose.
There are a variety of reasons why owning Polka Dot Creations has stopped being wonderful for me, and not all of them bear going into.
Suffice it to say, this has been a long time coming. I have had mixed emotions. On the one hand, I have been complaining about wanting to quit for at least three years, but I’ve never been able to get out from under my business debt until now. But on the other hand, the idea of quitting has felt strange to me, like it’s not something I am really allowed to do, or that I owe it to my customers to keep plugging away.
I had a nice long talk with Neil about all of this one night last month, as we walked together down the quiet end of the Ocean City boardwalk after dark, and he helped me see reason. I am nearly in a position of being able to pay down my debt. The time I spend doing Polka Dot Creations tasks (or complaining about them and procrastinating) can be so much better spent. I’ve been thinking a lot about publishing tutorials and ebooks, and while my download shop has been a good start, I can do better. And without the book store, I’ll have a bit of extra time.
I may just run around barefoot in the grass doing a little “I’m freeeee!” dance when it is all said and done.
Still, there has been plenty of good to come out of this business for me, mostly in the form of connections that I’ve made within the polymer clay community. I don’t expect to fade into obscurity. I still love polymer, and I still plan to write about it, and publish some of my techniques. You’ll always be able to find me right here, if you miss me!
There is one thing I will miss… my younger son’s help with the packing and shipping tasks. I’ve been letting him “help” me with the business since he was two years old, and unpacking big boxes of Abba Dabba VHS tapes. He learned to read while we applied shipping labels together. He learned how to use a scale, when we had packages to weigh. For much of his life, he’s been eagerly “helping” me with this business, and I am so glad that I let him do so, even though it meant that the tasks would take twice as long. He’s nine years old now, and his help is actually truly helpful. When we work together, packing and shipping are a speedier affair, not to mention a more pleasant one. I enjoy his company so much.
When I mentioned wanting to close the shop, he protested and suggested I let him run the business. I hope it doesn’t break his heart too much to find out I went another way.
I guess we’ll need to find another project to bond over. I wonder how he feels about decluttering the basement?
Thank you, eveybody, for eleven (mostly) good years
Now, go take advantage of the sale! Nearly all items are priced to move. The store will close for good on June 30th, but I will continue to ship (and you will still be able to place) preorders until November. Please go empty my shelves, and invite a friend or two to join you!!