14 Nov Brabary Renovation, Part One: Planning and Process

Friday, 14 November 2014

brabaryrenovationsOn Wednesday, October 15th at 10:00 a.m., Brabary opened the doors to its newly renovated interior. I wanted to take you behind the scenes on the process and share some of the things we learned.

Why renovate? The store was looking tired, the walls were getting scuffed, and the panels where we hung garments were worn. The lighting was very industrial and I had always wanted more of a boutique feeling.

The store just needed a boost – an uplift. We needed to find that balance between functionality and aesthetics.

It was actually our customers who encouraged us to create a focal point at the front of the store to bring the high ceiling down and create a cozier setting. This is an intimate product we’re selling, so that’s the kind of environment we want to welcome our clients into.

I found a designer through connections, and she ended up being the perfect choice. She worked with my wish list to come up with a plan and estimated budget, and then it was up to me to prioritize and pare that list down into “need to haves” and “nice to haves.”

There were some things I just couldn’t resist, like the high-end lighting, even though that brought the final budget to triple what we had originally planned. We joked that we’d have to start charging a “lighting tax” along with our sales tax.

We were already doing all this work, I thought, shouldn’t we just do this, too? When is the next time I will have all these tradespeople here, the store closed, and a designer standing by?

When you’re doing something like this, there’s always a danger of “project creep” so you absolutely must plan for your budget to increase. In some cases, we were able to trim the budget by choosing store-bought (local, whenever possible!) options instead of custom-made.

Another important lesson learned was the importance of planning ahead. Our lights arrived five months after we ordered them. Think about the things that will take longer to customize or ship, and get those decisions made and orders placed as far ahead as possible.

Because we’re a retail store, the other planning challenge was finding a time line that wouldn’t be too disruptive to our clients. So we chose Thanksgiving weekend since we would be closed Monday anyway.

The workers started on Saturday night after we closed. We stayed closed one extra day and re-opened Wednesday. I wasn’t sure we would make it, but by Wednesday we were totally ready. A full renovation in four days. Wow!

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