My team and I cannot believe how quickly this summer is flying by! But amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, I sat down with my communications/marketing intern this summer to talk about some of my favorite moments and memories of being a store owner as we continue to celebrate the 10th year of being established on the island!
Continue reading below to hear some of the great experiences we have been reminiscing on all season here at Little Luxuries:
1. What connection do you have to Mackinac Island?
My family visited Mackinac Island a few times while growing up and I always loved the history and charm of the island. In 2006, I spent my first summer working on the island at The Gate House restaurant. I loved the experience so much that I came back for another summer in 2007. That is when I started dating my now husband, Andrew Doud. Andrew's family has a deep history to Mackinac Island. America's Oldest Grocery Store, Doud's Market, has been in his family since 1884. Andrew took over the family store in 2007. We lived on the island for eleven years year-round, and now spend our winters in Petoskey and commute to the island for work from November-April. We love Mackinac. We have two boys and one on the way (due in November)!
2. How did the idea come to you to open a gift shop on the island 10 years ago?
During my first winter on the island I was helping my husband (then boyfriend) work at Doud's Market and substitute teach. A friend of ours was selling his shop. He asked if we were interested in purchasing the business. After long conversations and a business plan with Andrew, I decided to go for it and take the risk. I had no prior retail experience at this point and really just had a love for shopping 'small' and handmade. In January, I went to my first gift show and I opened Little Luxuries May 1st, 2009. I was most nervous to use the cash register on opening day!
3. What was your inspiration behind the vintage theme of Little Luxuries?
I have always had an eclectic style. I am attracted to items that tell a story or I may just love the pattern or design. Not to mention, I am not an expensive shopper. I love finding good deals, but unique items. When opening Little Luxuries, I knew I wanted to fill the store with 'little luxuries' or small gift items that were affordable for everyone and with items that I loved. I think it's easier to sell a product that you love yourself!
4. How do you feel like you've grown as a store owner over the past 10 years?
I can't believe it's been ten years! I remember the night before my opening day like it was yesterday. I have definitely grown in many ways, but also have stayed the same. I think that is why Little Luxuries is the way it is. Small things always change each season, but it's still the Little Luxuries it was in 2009. I pay attention to little details, I love unique displays, I have to have a clean and tidy store, and of course, a fun environment! Now with owning three stores, the ordering, websites, social media, and employees have definitely added a lot to my plate and I learn new parts of retail and customer service continuously.
5. What is it like to raise a family on the island?
Our boys are young still, 3 years old and 4 years old, but there are challenges to raising children on Mackinac Island and there are advantages. After spending two winters in Petoskey, I love being able to have both. Living around a boat schedule can be difficult and getting from point A to point B in a hurry or in bad weather can be not so fun. However, the beauty of the island beats those difficulties usually. If you enjoy a small community where you can say hello to everyone, Mackinac Island is just that.
6. In what ways has the island changed since you've lived here?
Since 2006 to 2018, many businesses have changed and our lifestyle has changed as we have a growing family. However, the charm of Mackinac has remained the same and I believe it always will. Good friends we have worked with or spent time with have moved off the Island, but Mackinac overall still remains the same.
7. What is your favorite place on the island to relax and spend time with your family?
There are a few :) We enjoy biking around the island as well as walking up to Anne's Tablet on the East Bluff. It's a gorgeous view and quiet. I really love anywhere on the island where we can escape the hustle and bustle.
8. What is one product you have continued to feature throughout these 10 years?
I have carried Lollia, a beautiful bath and body line based out of Denver, CO since 2009 and it continues to be a top seller. I also still carry Beth Mueller, a handmade ceramic collection that is made exclusively for Little Luxuries with Mackinac-themed designs. Beth is very talented, based in Vermont, and her items are customer's favorites.
9. What is a future goal you have set for the growth of Little Luxuries?
My goal is to continue to offer my customer's the best, unique products for home and heart. I try to keep up with the ever-changing social media to keep our shopper's in the loop and for cistomer’s to be able to purchase our little luxuries easily from home, not just in the shop.
10. What is one of your favorite moments that has occurred at Little Luxuries?
Hmmm...this is a good question! I have several as I love seeing repeat customers over the years. But a big moment, was when I expanded Little Luxuries in 2012. We doubled our size and this made Little Luxuries much more visible to foot traffic and it allowed me to offer my customer's with many more choices of products. Little Luxuries' original space became very crammed over just a couple years! In 2015, The Artists Market of Mackinac Island opened and in 2017, Canvas and Paddle opened. Little Luxuries will always be my 'baby'. The up-beat environment, wide variety of products to choose from, and little touches I have created over the years makes it my happy place.
Thanks for reading this week! I hope you enjoyed our little question and answer session!