I had eventually got over the upset of not taking the perfect shop in Islington but I always thought about it, and I still do!
It was at a wedding show back in 2006 where I met a lovely couple displaying their balloon decorations. My stall was opposite them and in the quiet times when there were no clients, we started talking. They were nearing retirement age and were thinking about selling their balloon and party shop which was in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. They spoke about it with such passion. I sat at my little table and watched the numerous couples pass by my table on the way to theirs, spending time talking about balloon displays. I saw deposits exchanging hands and more importantly, a busy business. My brain started ticking. People were quite clearly attracted to balloons. If they come in to a shop to buy balloons and saw chocolate favours surely they go together really well? It would save the bride and groom time as they would have a shop where they could get all their decorations and favours in one place.
At the end of that day as we were all packing up our stalls, I approached the couple and told them I'd like to visit their shop. They were delighted and we exchanged numbers.
I couldn't stop thinking about the shop. It was called 'Let's Celebrate' and I imagined an emporium of multi colours and happiness. I went home and told my parents.
"You're mad" my dad's response was.
"You had a shop!" I told him in defence.
"Yes and it was bloody hard work! If you're sick, you have to work, if you're tired you have to work, if you have no customers, you still have bills and rates to pay."
I nodded, listening to all the cons. I went upstairs to my bedroom and made my own list of pros and cons. The list was pretty equal if I'm to be honest but I still wanted to see the shop in person.
I waited a few days and gave the shop a call. They remembered me straight away and we arranged a convenient time for me to pay them a visit.
As I drove up the road I saw some coloured latex balloons blowing in the breeze hanging off of a sign board, alerting passers by to where the shop was. I parked the car and stood outside admiring the impressive window display. I walked in and instantly felt happy. The energy was high, the shop was packed with party products and there were balloon displays everywhere.
As I opened the glass door a little bell sounded like in the olden days!
"Oh hi Maria, do come in" the owners called to me through dozens of balloon displays. There was so much stuff everywhere! On the shelves, on the walls, even on the floors!
"You look busy" I said.
They explained they were preparing balloons for a birthday party that were being collected in a few hours. I watched in amazement at how fast the balloons were inflated, tied and decorated. The owner took a break and showed me round the shop. The stock room was massive again filled to the ceiling with stock. I looked around taking it all in. I pictured where the chocolate counter would go and thought about where I could make space to create the chocolates. The owner interrupted my thoughts to tell me they wanted to sell the shop with the stock and customer list aswell. I told them them to email me the terms and we would go from there.
What followed, taught me probably the biggest lesson I've ever learnt in business so far...