Sometimes the thing we’re dreaming of doesn’t work out. But Chip and I weren’t going to give up on the idea of opening my shop just because the building I fell in love with seemed to slip through our fingers. So we kept on looking for other buildings. We searched and searched, but nothing we found had the character and charm of that little spot on Bosque.
I was starting to lose hope when, a few weeks into our renewed search, my prayers were suddenly answered. Maebelle called me on my cell phone: “Joanna, I’ve been praying about it, and I do not know why, but I feel very strongly that God is saying I need to sell this building to you for $45,000.”
I could hardly believe it. God made it so evident that this was meant to be. I was about to open my very own business!
Some friends and family members tried to talk me out of doing this. They felt it was just too big of a risk to take because I had no experience running a business of my own, no training in retail sales or marketing. I had never owned property before. And I knew next to nothing about home décor or design. Truly, the only home decorating I’d ever done was in the house where we were currently living, and that had just been one big experiment for me.
But Chip did what Chip does and made all those facts, all that logic, seem irrelevant. He really did. He believed I could do it, and he was confident that what I didn’t know, I could learn.
We took some time renovating that little houselike shop while I finished up our remodeling at home, and in the process I started collecting inventory. I bought inexpensive merchandise at the Dallas Market Center, an incredible wholesale marketplace filled with items sourced from all over the world. I hit garage sales and flea markets, too, and found old mirrors and furniture and knickknacks that I could fix up or distress to make them more appealing while adding some value to them.
At one point I found a large brown wicker sleigh for five bucks. I couldn’t believe how cheap it was. I thought to myself, If I dress this thing up a bit, I could sell it for twenty-five dollars. Off to the local craft store I went. I found a fake ivy garland to wrap all around the sleigh and some battery-operated Christmas lights that I tucked into the ivy. I was so proud of the way it turned out that I thought maybe I could sell it before the shop even opened and get a taste for how this would all work. So I talked my father into putting it in his waiting area at Firestone with a price tag on it.
But a week went by, and I noticed the sleigh was still there. The second week, I called my dad. “Yes, JoJo, it’s still here. But don’t worry. It will sell.” The third week went by, and I told my dad that if it didn’t sell, I would just come pick it up and get it out of his way. At that point I felt deflated. I questioned more than ever if running a store was what I was supposed to be doing. But I went in toward the end of that third week, and my father handed me an envelope with twenty-five dollars in it. “I told you it would sell,” he said. “Now go buy something for twenty dollars and see if you can sell it for fifty bucks. This is how retail works, JoJo.”
Selling that sleigh made me feel like I could do this design thing despite the odds — and my lack of experience. But the more I shopped for bargains that I could turn around for profit, the harder it was to choose between what I wanted to sell and what I wanted to use to finish turning our house into a home over on Third Street.
It took nearly eight months to get it to a point where that yellow house finally felt finished. I was so happy to be done, to be free of the dust and debris and tools everywhere, and to finally get the place neatened up and livable. I don’t like a lot of clutter. I like a clean house. If my house is too messy, I just can’t think straight. And remodeling a house is messy by definition. So nearly eight months after being carried into a house full of rotten meat and dog urine, I was thrilled to finally have a place where we could be comfortable. I was proud of what we’d done too. I hoped we’d live there for a long time, and I was ready to focus all of my energies on the shop.
Then Chip came home one afternoon and said, “Hey, Jo, I bought a new house.”
“Oh,” I said. “To rent out?”
“Well, eventually, yeah. We’re gonna be able to rent this house out now, because we fixed it up. It’s ready to go. So let’s move down to this next house a few doors down and we’ll fix that one up, too, as nice as we made this one. We’ll be able to make better rent on everything if we make ’em all look this good.”
Excerpted with permission from The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines, copyright Chip & Joanna Gaines.
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Come share you thoughts about Chip and Joanna’s story on our blog! We’d love to hear from you about the evidence of God’s work in our lives! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full