|Agnes Wozniak, Agnes' Antiques|
Agnes opened up her little shop, Agnes' Antiques, in Pitcairn, PA in the early 1990s. As a child, I had the incredible fortune of living right up the street (5-6 houses up) from her shop, so every day she was open I got to run down and "play". As an adult, I now know the value of the closeness and time we had together. It was within the walls of that little shop that I observed some of the finest examples of how to live a good life, how to treat others, and how to become an excellent businesswoman.
Agnes' Antiques quickly became a landmark of sorts in the little town of Pitcairn, PA. Her storefront was small, maybe 300-400 square feet at the most. In it, you could find wonderful treasures that she had uncovered in her travels...pretty teacups from Turtle Creek, crystal beads from L.A., and many, many beautiful lamps, linens, and trinkets from some of her closest neighbors in Pitcairn. Agnes knew her customers and what they liked, but more importantly, Agnes' customers liked her.
Making a stop at Agnes' Antiques wasn't always about buying or selling something. When you walked through the door, you would often find Agnes sitting at her pretty little desk enjoying a fresh cup of coffee and reading Country Living or the local paper. She always had at least one other seat in the shop open, and in hindsight she probably could have charged admission for the privilege of time spent in that seat. She received visitors from near and far who sought out her advice not only about antiques or valuables, but about decor, personal style, social concerns, event planning, family, medical issues, spirituality, and anything else that they needed an expert ear to hear and advise upon.
When people asked, "how do you choose what to put in your shop?" her response was simple: "I buy what I like." Oh, and what an eye she had. If I wasn't in school and Bubbie was going to look at some things to purchase for the shop, she would often take me with her. It was during these trips I learned what turned out to be some of the most valuable business lessons I know. I've summarized these into ten simple statements, which I will now put forth to you as Agnes' Rules of Engagement:
Treat people fairly.
Don't pay any more than what you feel an item is worth.
Buy only what you love.
Dirty does not mean bad shape.
Don't be afraid to dig.
Sometimes, silence is the loudest statement.
Let people think they know more than you; you'll always get the better deal.
Listen to what people have to say; you will always learn something you didn't know.
If it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
As you may or may not know, we lost Agnes to ovarian cancer on June 18, 2011. Every day, I am reminded of just how much I learned from her and how those lessons have shaped who I am today. In my art, I believe that my gift with color combinations, texture, and originality come from her. At school, my patience and love of children comes from the care and respect she always showed to me, even as a child. In my business, the application of Agnes' Rules of Engagement have helped to bring me success that I could have never imagined.
So friends, it is this tribute I leave you with on the final day of my 31 Days, 31 Friends blog series. I hope you were able to learn things, connect with people, and reflect upon the fantastic friends YOU all have in your lives. Thanks for following!