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Today the whole team is under one roof again. It's feeling pretty good.
Beardsgaard opened our doors in September 9th, 2014, and on our first anniversary we opened River Peak Apothecary, made out of the rented apartment above the one we lived in.
In early 2019 the space next door to Beardsgaard, still our same building, became available. We would have been crazy not to jump on it, despite the work it would require, not having had the most meticulous upkeep in its prior 30 years.
At the time we didn't exactly need a second storefront, as our line was still rather small, but we did need a LOT more room for Beardsgaard. With 14 employees at our max, we needed storage and laundry and overflow cutting space and a real lunchroom, and for the Apothecary to have a production space closer than blocks away.
And so we moved in, slowly building the space from an empty concrete cave into a real space with floors and everything. With every morning of beautiful light streaming in, though, we thought a gift shop with more brands than just ours would be perfect up front, with the back of the space being used all of those other purposes we mentioned above.
And so we prepared to make the space into the sort of shop you might walk into in an RPG video game like Dragonage or Neverwinter Nights, NPC shopkeeps and all. Open we did...in January of 2020.
Two months later we were closed for months thanks to a pandemic that knocked the world on its ass. We leaned back on the online sales we had been doing for years and made it through, just barely.
But when we reopened we were greeted by a solid five months of construction directly outside our doors and down the entire block. Folks were assuming even Beardsgaard was closed, much less our new shop no one knew existed in the physical world yet. The crumbling, long-ignored exterior of our building didn’t help the confusion, as we said we were leaning into the "bog witch aesthetic."
Another entire redoing of the sidewalk later (including sometimes bi-weekly heavy equipment digging something else up directly in front of our shop) and we were sitting at a year and a half of what felt like non-stop construction outside our front door. We think it's done, but we have said that half a hundred times already. At least we found a future hair model fantasy pirate amongst the construction crew!
This whole way, time and funds that we would have loved to have used to launch new products instead went to, for example, transforming the utilitarian back door of our shop into the front entrance during the holidays during a pandemic because they took our sidewalk for two months.
During all this, the barber industry was shifting to smaller shops and studios, so as barbers made long planned moves and career changes, we shrunk our hours down to just a regular work week and only five barbers, one for each chair, five days a week.
No longer are those of us behind the scenes "on" 70 hours a week, and as we get the lost recesses of our brains back, it feels like the right choice to get back to our roots and the size we had planned to be when we mapped this whole thing out in early 2014.
@riverpeak Shoppe closing 12/31 but we are EXPANDING. See website for full info! #RiverPeakApothecary #smallbusiness #familybusiness #apothecary #hobbitcore ♬ original sound - Andrew (he/him)
Now we are making our River Peak Apothecary products right here inside Beardsgaard, and settling into our new life as a shop more united than ever. We're still busy as ever, booked completely solid for weeks on end, but more than perhaps any other time in our shop history, it feels like we have turned to a new chapter.
@riverpeak At least until we get comfy and settled in our new production space! #riverpeakapothecary #beardsgaard #bodybutter #processvideo #handmade ♬ possibly in michigan - shaywee 👹
A chapter where we have the big stuff figured out, and we're no longer inventing the car while on a cross country road trip. We have hit cruising speed, we know how to steer this rig, and we're settling into our new way of living. We may never have it all figured out, but we're seeing a lot more metaphorical sunrises.
The next phase of the Apothecary is going to be rather exciting, with hordes of new products and fathoms of fantasy to come. Stay tuned by signing up for updates right here.