Last year in September, Steve and I packed my little Forester with a few things, plus our dogs and ourselves and we headed north to Madison, WI. We did this because I was offered the professional opportunity of a life time in a location that allowed us to be closer to my family. It was one of the more difficult decisions we've made so we did it rather quietly, without a lot of hoopla, and moderately under the radar. This was by design. In our minds we were giving Madison a shot, trying it on for size to see if we liked it, and to see if being closer to family outweighed the benefits of living in Tucson, the city I love.
Anyone that follows us on Instagram or Facebook knows Saguaro Market is almost literally my baby. I don't have kids of my own and when it became obvious that a traditional family wasn't going to be the route for us, I decided I needed to focus my attention on some sort of creative endeavor. The creative endeavor eventually became Saguaro Market.
The market was always intended to be something I did in addition to my day job. We decided right away that it was not going to be a traditional retail experience and in fact we moved into Wildcat Storage because being located next to Gather meant that there was a built in 4-day per month market already creating a draw. It was the perfect part-time business model that allowed me to experiment with the concept of creating a modern brick and mortar marketplace without giving up the stability and professional comradery of the "day job" that I loved.
It was perfect up until the point that we learned the cancer that was attacking my mom had become untreatable. And then… the train… fell off the tracks.
My dad passed away about a year prior to my mom's initial diagnosis so for most of her illness she was alone. She was strong and independent and really didn't allow anyone to help her. This changed in August, 2016, when the cancer invaded her lungs. She needed help so I did what any mom worshipping daughter would do, I left my job and took care of my mom.
During the day while my mom was sleeping, I made tissue paper flowers. It kept my mind and my fingers busy and before I knew it I had about a hundred massive tissue paper flowers. They became the basis for our initial store props and decorations.
At night I would head to the store and work on various aspects of building the market: arranging the displays, ordering products, creating props, planting cactus, planning, etc. It was a bit of an oasis for me. A place to focus my energy despite my mom's illness and prognosis.
In October, my sister flew down to Tucson to stay with my mom and I opened the doors for our first market ever! My mom even made it in to visit. She brought me lunch and she talked with Celine (who has since become one of my favorite customers/people ever) and they bonded over being proud of their daughters. It's a moment that's branded on my brain - I'll never forget it. It turned out to be the only time my mom made it in. She was very sick the next month, during the November market and, in fact, passed away just a couple of days later.
After she passed away, Saguaro Market once again became my oasis. It was the thing I could focus on so that I didn't have to think about the sadness. I poured all my energy into making it awesome and each month we grew. My friend Mary Vancza joined Saguaro Market in January. Word spread about us and by May, Saguaro Market was a real "thing" that people talked about and looked forward to attending each month.
We closed for the summer months because of the extreme heat or more accurately, because of the extreme lack of air conditioning. But when we opened in July for a special summer clearance event, you guys showed up and you were excited despite the 110 degrees in the shade weather. It was our best & busiest market yet!
Shortly after our July market Steve and I started having real discussions about when I was going to go "back to work". Saguaro Market was always intended to be something I did in addition to my day job; money was a little tight and Steve was getting a little nervous. Saguaro Market was meant to be something for me to pour my creative energy into on the side and I needed to fulfill my promise to keep a day job.
So…with a little bit of hesitance and a little bit of excitement, I put the word out, started looking for jobs and lucky enough, almost as soon as I started looking I found and was offered my dream job. Even better, my dream job was located near my family. Let the celebration begin, right? Not quite…because my dream job was/is in Madison, Wisconsin.
We decided to give it a shot. We would move to Madison and I'd travel back to Tucson once a month for the market & Mary would take on the bulk of the prep work.
As you can imagine this wasn't easy. Things never go exactly as planned and communicating while thousands of miles and time zones apart is rough, but for the most part, we made it work pretty well.
Fast forward to February... we lost our lease and Saguaro Market went into storage. Fast forward another couple of months to today.
Where we're at now...
I'm happy to say that Mary moved forward and followed her own dream. Just last night she and her new business, Shop-Up Tucson, a space available to rent for pop-up events located in the Historic 4th Avenue District, opened their doors for the first of many, many pop-events to come. Hooray!!
So, the next thing to figure out is Saguaro Market. What will happen to my baby? How will we make this work? I'll cover all of that in my next post.