Monthly Archives: May 2015

Hours of Operation

When we started to plan our hours for PJP Buttonwood before ever opening our doors, we considered a lot of different options.  And honestly, we originally looked at the model of just closing each day when we were sold out of pie…whether that was noon or 4:30 pm.  But by some stroke of maturity (or divine intervention), we realized that we don’t have the personalities for that sort of environment and set hours would be much better.  (Primarily because one of us would have tried to convince the other one that it was okay to bake five pies and sell them in five minutes and then close the store early on Saturday after a long week.)

And so our current hours of 10:30 – 5:30 Tuesday – Friday and 9 – 1 on Saturday was based on nothing scientific and chosen only because it “sounded like it would work.”

Except it doesn’t really.

What has become clear to us over the last year is that we actually need to be open MORE.  And while we’ve heard the rumblings from customers for at least the last six months or so, we’ve covered our ears and ignored it on the theory of “we are tired”.  Sounds like a legitimate business principle, no?

But here is the truth…an extra 30 minutes in the evening would provide some extra time to stop by after work for a lot of our customers.  As Columbia continues to grow and the city continues to install traffic circles every 27 feet, traffic makes getting anywhere in our town a near impossibility on a time schedule at 5 pm or after.  And 30 minutes later – 6 pm – isn’t the worst thing to consider.  A lot of days were are still there after we close at 5:30 as we try to clean up and prep for the next day.

But here is the bigger issue to consider…SATURDAYS.  Saturdays have always presented a problem because we are never certain how busy we will be.  Some Saturdays are slower and some are absolutely packed.  We also aren’t open on Sunday to sell off pie at half-price, so we are careful about our baking schedule and avoid overproducing so we don’t have lost product.  Around this time of year, we start baking around 5 or 6 on Saturday morning and by 10 am, we are still asking each other “well, do you think we should bake more?”  And then the other one says “I don’t know…do you?”  And then the other says “I asked you first.”  (Another piece to consider in this puzzle is that almost without exception, Jeanne and I work the Saturdays alone to keep payroll down.)

Most weekends, it is pretty quiet at PJP Buttonwood until about 11 am.  By 1, we are trying to close our doors as the customers are streaming in and asking what is left…and the answer is usually “absolutely nothing.”  Awkward.

We are considering 10:30 to 4 on Saturdays, with the realization that someone else would have to work at least the afternoons because by 1 or so, Jeanne and I are ardently 100% over our week.  But we don’t know…and we need your feedback.  Would you stop by PJP Buttonwood on Saturdays if you could do so in the afternoon?  Would it help with planning your weekend events if you could pick up pies later in the day?  Comments please.

Wednesday. And Aleene.

  1. Columbia Public Schools is officially on summer break as of this afternoon.  And if you’ve hung around here long enough, you know that I tend toward the overdramatic…and the end of a school year always does me in.  You show me teachers standing outside waving goodbye as the cars stream out of the parking lot and I’ll show you tears.  That said, my children have opted to work at PJP rather than attend summer school this year and FREE LABOR is sweet music to my payroll-paying soul.  (Just kidding, OSHA.  Ahem.)
  2. A salesperson from an immediately recognizable organization has been calling INCESSANTLY and despite my 1,874 ways to nicely tell him “no thanks”, it hasn’t worked.  So today when he called (I swear, he must have a calendar reminder set) and asked to speak to me, Jeanne refused on the basis that the answer is still no and I’m just not good at disappointing anyone.  It was actually sort of awesome.  I bet that guy didn’t think so though.
  3. A big change is coming to our foyer.  No spoilers, but it involves our good friends at Johnston Paint and Decorating….as in, Melissa and Murph actually came to our store with samples of different things, helped us make decisions, went back to the store and got all the stuff we needed and brought it back to us.   In short, WE LOVE THEM.  PJP Inner Circle members forever.
  4. I hope we will start our project soon.  And when I say “we”, I really mean “Jeanne”.  I think the record here on the blog reflects that if you want to have a conversation about fine-grit sandpaper and polyurethane, I’m not the one you choose.  (But if you like conversations about Dexter and righteous indignation, well PICK ME.  CHOOSE ME.  LOVE ME.)  (Bonus points if you caught the Meredith Gray reference.)
  5. We glued ribbons on 130 jelly jar pies today for a wedding.  Let’s talk for a second about Aleene’s Tacky Glue.  Does NASA know Aleene makes this stuff?  Because I’m certain you could glue ribbons to jelly jars OR repair a spaceship with it, or both in the same afternoon.  I’m still sticky eight hours later…let that be the 47th reason on the list of while I fail at Arts&Crafts.  (I’m going to bet though that Aleene has never found a hunk of tacky glue remnants in her hair or uttered an entire string of expletives while using her product.)

I just realized none of these things had anything to do with each other, but I’m blaming it on Wednesday.  And Aleene.


On occasion, and most likely to keep us humble, the universe hands us one of those days that leave Jeanne and I thinking…WHAT THE HELL HAVE WE DONE?

And there was nothing in particular about today, save for writing large checks for uninteresting expenses (totally talking to you, IRS), burning pies because of forgotten timers (totally talking to myself), and conflicting emotions about 3,142,908 things (totally talking to those 3,142,908 things).  But rather it was the combination of EVERYTHING that left both Jeanne and I emotionally spent by 5:30 this afternoon and feeling a bit overwhelmed.


Ok, a LOT overwhelmed.

The big fat secret that no one tells you about owning a business is that most of the time, it will feel like one step forward and two steps back.  And the footnote to that dirty little secret is that sometimes, it will feel like one step forward and 10 steps back (or maybe even 100 steps back).  And there isn’t anything you can do about it (except maybe remember to set the freaking timers on the oven).  When everything goes swimmingly well, it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that perhaps we’ve mastered this game and become legitimate entrepreneurs.

(I don’t think I’ve seen a chapter in any New York Times bestseller book on business entitled “Ways We Totally Sucked Today”, but I’m totally making a note to myself to include one in the PJP memoir.)

And perhaps today was emotionally sketchy only because I’ve been insistent on reminding myself that in order to run a successful business, mistakes can never be made, people can never be disappointed, and we say yes to everything.  Obviously, we want to avoid mistakes.  Clearly, we never want anyone to be disappointed (unless that person is the one incessantly calling me about participating in a deal-of-the-day program and can’t seem to accept no as a legitimate response and so he keeps calling and calling…that dude can totally be disappointed in me at this point).  And saying yes to everything is unrealistic.  So why did I ever set myself to believe perfection equals entrepreneurial legitimacy?

Martha Stewart.

Only kidding…sorta.  In our overly edited, completely photoshopped world, it feels like everyone has it all together, all of the time.  Has Martha ever wanted to beat someone up because she burned 12 baby apple pies?  Probably…but not that we would ever actually know it because her image prevents that sort of transparency.  Who wants to buy fancy pie plates from a chick that burns pie, anyway?

So, here is the truth:  we burned a bunch of stuff today, it was well after noon before we even had any pie boxed for sale, we couldn’t make any easy decisions about a new project, and I hmpf-ed at the mailman because I was sick of him bringing bills…like it was his fault.  By no means perfect, right?

But 100% real.  And one step forward.