Classic Cottage Co. is Expanding.. Yet Again

Yep, you read it! Tomorrow Feb. 1st we’re expanding!!

I kept this expansion a little quiet because I’m mostly doing it as a business experiment. I want to test the waters of a new location inside of the antique mall that we’re currently in. I’m doing this to test two things – location and size.

Our newest booth (Yes, we’ll be keeping our current spaces… fret not!) will be towards the front of the store but smaller than our current location. This excites ME!!

I find myself EXTREMELY excited when Aaron and I do/try something new with our business. This motivates me.

Yep, you better believe it –  we’ve come up with a design and cool pieces for this new booth. Although it’s more of an experiment, I still want anything “marked” Classic Cottage Co. to be of Classic Cottage Co. standard so it’ll be pretty!

Needless to say, Aaron and I have blocked out our day tomorrow to work on this expansion. We’ll work sun up to sun down to have it ready as soon as possible for our customers.

My first booth

One of the expansions

Highs & Lows – 2018

Farewell, 2018. Hello, 2019.

It was a good year. Fast but good! Here’s a few moments that really stand out to me when thinking back on 2018.

I turned 25 – High

Wow, am I really an actual grown up? Yep. I turned 25 on January 25th 2018. I even wrote a post about it –25 Life Lessons for 25! Aaron & Kelbee made this day special for me.

Classic Cottage Co. Expanded… AGAIN!! – High

Yep, we had the opportunity to expand the space we we’re currently renting so we did so! This gave our customers a little extra room to shop while allowing us to stage more inventory.

I Felt Alone – Low 

It was a Summer Night when the reality hit me – I’m the only one who still lives in this area. Once upon a time, I had a father, mother and 2 sisters live in the Auburn, Al area. We grew up here. Everyone went their separate ways. I stayed in a town full of memories. I felt very alone.

I Planned for an Online Store – High

Yessss!! The thought alone excited me. Aaron and I spent ENDLESS hours planning for our online store. It was the conversation every Sunday at our favorite local Italian restaurant. It would be the BIGGEST expansion of Classic Cottage Co. YET!

He Canceled the Store – Low

Real low. I was furious.

I totally see why Aaron made the decision. I had been planning for nearly a year to open the online store and didn’t make the jump because of fear and anxiety. I had all the support in the world – Aaron and really no excuse. Aaron and I were paying monthly fees for a store that didn’t exist yet. It was all just a big dream with even bigger fear.

One day, I tried logging in to the admin of the online store and it had been canceled. I was furious. I called Aaron. Aaron explained that he had canceled it months ago because we were paying for something that hadn’t been used in months.Worst of all – I was so embarrassed it had been canceled for month and it took me that long to even realize. Geeze. I was so angry but baby it put a fire in me. Within weeks we had items listed and were ready to go. I think Aaron knew the fire I needed.  I realized fear had be robbing me so I…

Launched an Online Store – High 

You. Better. Believe. It.

I’m so proud to say Classic Cottage Co. Online launched on September the 4th. Funny story. We actually hit the “go live” button and made the announcement on social media on the way to our friend’s house for dinner. At this point, I wasn’t wasting time or waiting for the perfect time. When it’s time to GO, you GO!

I had no clue what I was doing. Didn’t know the first thing about shipping items. Not to mention shipping items worldwide! Ha, Aaron and I quickly learned though!

Talk about a high – I was on a freaking mountain. Since then we have shipped out more orders than we ever imagined. PS – thanks for that!

We Nearly Lost Oscar – Low 

One Sunday morning, we woke up and Oscar was sick. Aaron rushed him to the emergency after hours vet. It was an up and down roller coaster. After much prayer, money and few weeks, our little Oscar was back on the mend!! Thank, God!

My Instagram hit 30K – High 

Say whaaaattttt???? Yes! Maybe soon I should write a post on IG tips! Instagram is a part of my business. I was so thrilled and appreciative of reaching this milestone!

Wow, that’s actually a good bit of highs and lows! All in all, it’s been a good year. Aaron and I totally invested everything we had into building our life and a business. The year FLEW BY!

Cheers 2019!

Addition to the Classic Cottage Co. Team

For a while, it was just me – hunting, painting and staging. Then Aaron started to help and we were able to accomplish triple. Yep, he’s just that good. Now we’ve added a third person!

Allow me to introduce another face behind Classic Cottage Co. – Meet Breanna!!

We’ve been thinking for months about hiring someone and each time we would think about it, Breanna came to mind. Right around the time we were ready to take the plunge and hire, Breanna was looking for a job.

No doubt, we can already see she’s a great addition to Classic Cottage Co.. Breanna has an awesome work ethic and is always a bright ray of sunshine! Oh, and she has a new found love for French Provincial pieces! 

Breanna will be helping us share behind the scenes on our social media, answering some support, preparing pieces for the booths, and helping with the online store. Yep, she’s gonna be busy & such a great help to us!

Making Money with a Vintage Booth During the Holidays

I’ve been in the industry for a few years now and I can tell you the Holiday season can be a little slower for antique dealers/pickers. Sad to say, but I’ve heard many dealers say they have a hard time paying rent during the Holidays, much less making a profit for the work!

I try to be very strategic when it comes to Classic Cottage Co. during the Holidays so that I not only make rent but bring home a paycheck! Here’s a few tips!

Christmas Decor Stocked

People are buying all things Christmas right now. Look at the big box stores – Target can barely keep it in stock. Wednesday I had a good day at my largest booth location and most of the items that sold were CHRISTMAS!

If it’s out (& priced right) I’ll sell something Christmas-y just about every day this time of year.

Keep it Festive

Yep, that Christmas decor serves another purpose too. It makes the booth feel festive which in return makes people happy which leads to jolly ol’ buyers!

Tip – All the Christmas decor does have a price tag!

Style those Christmas decorations in your booth as you would your home. This not only keeps the booth looking pretty but shows buyers how to use your merchandise. I shop all year long for Christmas items so I’ll be fully stocked all season.

Bring Out the BEST

Sure, everyone has Christmas on the brain. Sure, everyone is spending all their money on Christmas gifts. Use this to your advantage!!!! Those same shoppers are making a mental Christmas wishlist as they shop. I’ve seen wives spot a vanity or buffet and the husband show up the next day with a cash in hand. Now is the time to bring out those beautiful pieces that that would make for the perfect Christmas gift.

Be Careful What You Teach Your Children

If it hadn’t of been for my mother, I wouldn’t have this career.

Seriously. I think about it often this time of year. Why? Because every October and November she would drag me out to every flea mall/ antique store in and around our area and make me hunt for every vintage Santa mug, pitcher or cookie jar I could find.

On the regular – she would take me to yard sales and estate sales. At a young age, mom taught me how to hunt. Eventually, I developed an eye for things I liked and I would put them away in my hope chest.

Mom drilled me to look for little details such as… look for the “Japan” stamp… Fenton is good. Fenton hobnail is even better. For years I learned these tips among many other. Later I added on to this base knowledge and begin adding in my own style.

Once we got home we would have to “display” the items of course (I now call this styling lol). So along with developing an eye for hunting “junk”, mom taught me how to arrange that “junk” in a way that instantly turned it into treasure.

I write this today because it hit me, I was taught these things not knowing it would later develop a career. She had no idea it would pay my mortgage, help send her grandkids to college (possibly) and provide me with nice things. Each little tip she gave me as a young child, I practice daily.

All because a grown up taught a little, I hunt for items, nearly daily, for customers. I write about how to style those items and I display soooo many vintage items in my home in hopes of inspiring other to embrace beauty in old things.

Share knowledge with little ones and don’t underestimate them… In many ways, childhood shaped us.

My Vintage Booths in August

August flew by!

Literally it’s hard for me to remember details of the month because it didn’t last very long. Okay, let’s see what details I can share!

Student Rush

I’ve mentioned before we live in a college town – War Eagle! I thought the student rush was over (My mistake). It was a Saturday morning and we had just finished picking. We were taking a load of furniture into the store and I was hit with an open college student floodgate!

As Aaron was taking it off the truck, I was writing price tickets and handing them to parents. There were SO many college kids!

Slow Days

Then we had a few slow days. This was totally okay for two reasons. 1 – I needed a slow down after that crazy rush. 2 – It enabled me to work on some more projects. (We’ll talk more about that soon!)

The Creamy Month

Without even realizing it, I was drawn to medium french cream colors during the month of August. So odd but I realized my booths were mostly cream colored with pops of green!! Funny how our eyes sometimes decide how things should look before our brain even notices that it should be deciding!! I was totally okay with this and the college girls seemed to love it!

So that sums up the oh so quick month of August! We kicked off September 1st with Aaron and I working a 12+ hour day. Hustle has no time for football, y’all! Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today!

My Vintage Booths in July

Wow, I can’t believe we’re already in August. Kids are already going back to school and Summer feels like it’s slowing down. Despite customers being on vacation and buying school supplies, July was a good month for Classic Cottage Co. Let me give you a little recap on the whole month!

Side Tables Sold

Possibly because we live in a college town and students are gathering dorm items, side tables/nightstands didn’t last longer than a day after dropping them off. Woohoo!! I was glad to see them go!

Chandelier Shock

Total shocker. I found two BEAUTIFUL chandeliers (priced low enough) while picking this month. Woah! This never happens. Like seriously never. Chandeliers are among the hardest items for me to find while picking. Finding two within 30 days has never happened to me before. July was the month of chandeliers.

Favorite Item of the Month

My favorite item of the month had to be these black metal lockers. I’ve had many metal lockers come and go but these were really something. For starters they were huge!!! The doors were mega! Also, after purchasing these (note – without properly seeing them) Aaron noticed they were actually old military lockers from a military base a few hours away. Cooooool!! Needless to say, these didn’t last longer than the weekend.

Now we’re on to August! We’ve already taken a quick vacation and we’re ready so bring on the sales!

Beautiful Antique Set

Does anyone else love gorgeous antiques with stunning detail? This. Girl. Does.

I found the most beautiful dresser and chest set. I bought this set for my vintage Business Classic Cottage Co. It was one of the most challenging Classic Cottage projects yet but totally worth it.

This set was gorgeous when we found it but needed a little TLC to make it usable again. Aaron spent hours fixing drawers and other little details on each piece. I bought this set in such excitement I didn’t even realize some of the drawers didn’t work properly. Yikes!! Thank goodness Aaron knows a little woodworking!

Time for the big transformation. The white paint!! I went with a clean crisp bright white paint to make this set pop. Since it has a lighter color, you can see each little detail. Sometimes I feel bad about painting antiques but this was a good decision.

Before I wrap this up, let’s talk about the mirror. It’s amazing! In fact, I believe the mirror makes the entire set. It’s a large three panel mirror with original glass. Sweet detail is all around the glass itself. Beautiful! (You can tell this piece totally excites me)

Aaron and I both agreed this set deserved the very best. We spent extra time and you can totally see that it was time well spent. I’m so glad I went into a thrift store and spotted it a few weeks ago. Hope this post inspires you!!

PS – This set is located in Classic Cottage Co. at The French Flamingo in Opelika. 

Comparing Springs… Ups & Downs

I mentioned in a post published on New Years that my business struggled last Spring. Now that it’s the first of June, I think it’s safe to compare Spring of 2017 to Spring of 2018. I truly hope this post brings you encouragement.

(Throughout this post you’ll see pictures from the early days)

Last Spring I nearly gave up on my business. I built this business from $0.25 items at yard sales. Truthfully, it was a steady build. Then Spring of 2017 came and my sales STOPPED.

(Classic’s Opening Day. Not the best quality pic, sorry) 

Oh no! Nothing was selling. Looking back, I had made some bad buys and lost money. Not to mention, it felt like the antique mall was slow. I didn’t have much money at all to reinvest for the months to come.

I remember telling Aaron I was going to have to call my former boss and get my job at the hair salon back. After investing everything (not that I had much to invest), I had failed. But this mindset only lasted so long.

Aaron told me you can never judge a success within one year. Long story short, thankfully he bailed me out. (I still owe you, babe)

I was determined. During that time Classic Cottage only had one location and was in a smaller booth. I remember rearranging the space nearly everyday. I looked around my house for items to sell (Maybe I’ll tell you more about that later). We didn’t give up.

Things began to turn around. Shortly after, during the Summer of 2017, we expanded again and then we added another location.

Fast forward a year later, May 1st we expanded yet again and it takes both Aaron and I to keep Classic Cottage stocked. If you had told me this a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. Will there be more lows? Yes. Will I push through as I have before? Yes. There will always be lower/slower months. You just have to plan and push.

(The first time I stepped back for a look after one of our expansions)

I truly hope this encourages you to chase your dreams and never give up.


Karlee Bowman

Classic Cottage Co. Expansion Recap

Welp, we’ve expanded! The structural logistics took a little longer than expected. For some cray cray reason Aaron and I thought we would be able to finish everything in one day. Everything meaning – put up faux brick, stabilize metal piping & wood beams, style lace canopy, move in new items and (my favorite part) stage merchandise.

…And so it begins…

Haha, I have no clue what we were thinking when we came up with that plan. 😂

All in all, it worked out and we’re excited to say it the new additional booth is ready!! We’ve already sold from this more rustic style booth.

Double the space, babes!

As I’ve said before in a previous blog, this new additional booth is aimed to offer more rustic, primitive, industrial items. We’re embracing wood tones and metals while offering rustic treasures to the Auburn/Opelika community.

Less than a week after expanding, I’m so very proud to say customers have supported our vision!

Already, I have learned that I love working in this larger space. For one reason, there is room for me to work/stage while customers shop. Another reason, we’ve blended in book pages throughout the newer space. (stop by to see exactly what I’m talking about) Having pages hanging above me is totally my style because I love to read!

Still have my sweet sign gifted from Aaron Bowman.

Again, thank you so much for the support and encouragement!! 

-Karlee Bowman

Insane splinter to prove the insane weekend!