Diane Lachtrupp Martinez is a professional dancer with a specialty in Argentine Tango. The former owner of Stepping Out Dance Studio, one of the largest in NYC, she now lives in Saratoga Springs with her husband Johnny Martinez and her two sons. A full time dancer and teacher, she balances her chaotic life of teaching, choreographing and performing while caring for her family and navigating her complicated gluten, dairy and soy free diet.
Friday, March 4, 2011
ENTREPENEURS AND ENABLERS
The winter of 2009 saw our front parlour filled with my younger son’s snowflake store.Make no mistake, it dominated the entire room; snowflakes displayed across the entire red velvet couch and today’s special coddled in the red velvet chair.Signs informed the customers of the prices and deals; 15 cents each or two for 25 cents.My son eyed every guest to our home as a potential customer and contributor to his stash of cash.The store opened in January and lasted through May after much urging to close up shop earlier.
I held my breath in the winter of 2010 to see if the store would re-open.It did not.So you can see how I was blind- sided last Wednesday when my younger son announcedin the car that tomorrow was the grand re-opening of his snowflake store.What?I thought I was in the clear. I did not see that coming.
First, we negotiated the real estate.I knew in my mind, that the front parlour was not going to be inhabited by the snow flake store again; especially when the store had reached its height of inventory in 2009 and featured 379 unique snowflakes.He assumed the parlour was still available.It was not and I suggested the play room.He countered with the reading room landing (located between the first floor kitchen and 2nd floor bedrooms) and I said, “Deal.”It is an intimate room and would hopefully prevent spreadage.Although, every time I climb the stairs(about 20 times a day) I am reminded that our dance students also pass this way en route to their lessons and wonder at the wisdom of my counter offer.
Thursday morning arrived and the little salesman arrived home after spending the night at his grandma’s.As I welcomed him at the door, he gives me a cursory hug and rushed by me saying, “There is no time to spare.My store opens in an hour.”
I thought he had plenty of inventory, but he informed me that he has next to none and so I set him up in the living room with paper and scissors to get to work.I had already decided to embrace his idea and dedicated the next two hours to his grand opening.Seeing his dearth of product, I rushed into the cellar to find the snowflakes that I had saved two winters ago.Success, I find them and bring them up.He seemed pleased with my find and felt less stress on producing mass amounts of snowflakes.
While my son created, I hung chili pepper lights around the entrance to his store and found a bulletin board to hang and display his items for sale.After 45 minutes of arduous work, he rushed up to his new store to set up shop.He categorized his snowflakes as small, medium and large and amazing.I helped him price them accordingly.His prizes were at first a little high, and I warned him that his prices need to fit the pockets of his shoppers.
And who are his shoppers?Well, they are his grandmothers, brother (reluctant), playmates, dance students and any guest who enters our home.
How do the playmates know to bring money?They don’t.I am both the land lord and the bank supplying nickels, dimes and quarters to his friends.The money circulates back to us; I give the playmates a budget of a dollar, they spend it in my son’s store, he generally banks it.A fun savings plan.
Do his parents shop in the store?Yes they do, but not always appearing as his parents.When there were slow days in his shop in 2009 and he longed for business, I would dress up as different characters and ring the front door bell to visit his shop.He answered the door as a composed proprietor welcoming a new customer but with a knowing twinkle in the eye that acknowledged the secret that we shared as to my true identity.I am no stranger to our dress-up box and Nanny McPhee has made several guest appearances at the store. I can only wonder what the neighbors thought as I walked out my back door in full late 19th century attire, walked the 125 feet along the sidewalk and then re-entered my home by way of the front door and rang my own bell.Whatever.
My husband ( no slouch in the dress-up department), grabbed a sombrero-esque hat from the dress-up box area and pulled a south western looking blanket off the couch, slung it over his shoulder and made his entrance to the snowflake store doing the Mexican Hat Dance.My son was delighted but managed to keep a straight face nonetheless.It’s no wonder that my son wants to re-open the store – his parents apparently want to dress-up all the time.We are enablers.
(young proprieter displays his wares)
BACK TO THE OPENING -10:30am arrives and the store is open; the open sign is displayed, merchandise is arranged, the change box is ready and the chili peppers lights are plugged in.My younger son had a play date with a neighbor and I had prearranged for the father and daughter to come to the opening before the play date.My mother was coming back to the house for the opening and I would be there.Customers were expected.
The opening went off without a hitch.Customers purchased at least 25 snowflakes as well as some art work and I provided a toast to his success.(He nixed the graham cracker hors d’oeuvres that I had suggested.)All in all a fun two hours of play time.
How is the snowflake store faring?Since the grand re-opening the store has had sporadic hours and lowered inventory.BUT- my son did add a new a game feature of throwing a ball into a purple and green top hat that sits on top of the dress-up box in his store.The customer receives three tries and you win a piece of art work if it goes in.I love creative marketing.
EPILOGUE: This morning my son put his entrepreneurial skills to work and held a fund raiser in the living room.Children in his school, were asked to bring loose change from home to support a charity called “Pennies for Patients.” He did send in loose change as well, but isn’t it more fun to have a fund raiser in the living room that features games to raise the loose change.My entry fee was four quarters and then I was invited to play a variety of games such as rubber horse shoes, foosball and toss the ball in the purple and green hat. He proudly headed off to school carrying the money from his fund raiser for the charity. Perhaps my son is the future organizer of a Saratoga High Dance Marathon that will raise over $200,000.00 like those great kids at South Glens Falls High School.
Diane Lachtrupp Martinez
P.S. For reasons unknown to me, I am back in the dog house. If you don't know what I am talking about, go back about three blogs.