We had the good fortune of connecting with Terri Weisz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Terri, how do you think about risk?
I have always been a risk taker…..I believe that’s what sets me apart fromothers….I’m the one that colors outside the lines….31 years ago I was the soleparent of a one year old and a three year old….Scottsdale was still the west’smost western town….there were two kitchen stores in my area…..I had been incatering before and I loved to entertain but could not find the products Iliked…..and with 2 small children I needed a job that I could also be able toattend all their school programs and sports and dance and the list goes on….so Itook the jump and opened two plates full….having never been a retailer I wingeda lot of it…. Took a lot of risks throughout the years….I started out as akitchen store but of course as all the big name stores…crate and barrel….etc.….startedmoving in I knew I had to take the risk and change my whole store up…fromkitchen to what I call functional art, gifts and accessories…..I started addingsome funky handmade items I think the first was a terra-cotta chip and dip….itsat on top of a ladies head…she had earrings and real funky sunglasses and redlipstick and the chip and dip came in different colors…then I added more funkyunusual pieces…..my employees weren’t sure what to think….my brother asked meonce do people really buy this stuff? The more funkier and colorful pieces Ibrought it the more my customers loved it…..most retailers back then went withthe flow….plain…..whatever was a company’s top sellers and suggestions from thereps….I went totally out of the box…..my employees and I painted each of ourwalls a different color…..we had things hanging from the ceiling…..I took moreand more risks away from the norm with hand painted furniture and wacky,hilarious greeting cards…..an adult only section that had choice words kids didn’tneed to see…..I called it our naughty basket because we had pasta shaped likethe parts of men and women’s bodies… we now have a whole section of riskythings from kitchen towels with funny says to journals and pens….I have moved 6times each time taking the risk because I felt if I hadn’t gone into newshopping centers someone else would try to open something similar….and witheach space I did something different with the store….we painted our fixturesbright colors….we added corrugated metal to our wood display cubes….and on ourcheckout counter we painted the top with a spot on a globe that says you arehere and flowers and stars……one of our artists painted all my employees and myfamily on and old wood and screen door…..our refrigerator door is painted likethe inside with food….our bathroom door is a painting of my son when he wasbody building and he has a tray holding a roll of toilet paper and it saysplease seat yourself…..our sale area has a painted sign that says the corner ofno returns…..being an entrepreneur is all about taking risks if you want tostay in the game…..during covid lockdown I did live feeds from the store of newitems and gave away a gift each week to one of the attendees….it kept me doingsome business while closed down….we shipped or did curbside…..I’m now takingthe plunge into our own shopping website….with all that’s going on in the worldit’s a risk but one I think I should have done years ago…..I have a goodfollowing of loyal customers….I try to send out a newsletter once a month withnew items….recipes….funny pictures with captions…..and I write the way I thinkwith is….oh look there goes a squirrel…..customers from out of town come in andwant to know who writes the newsletters…..we always tell our customers to juststop in and say hi if you’re in the neighborhood…..if we are having lunch fromone of the local restaurants we offer food to whoever is in the store and somejoin in….I figured since we’ve been back open I wouldn’t need to do my livevideos but they still want them…..I think I take the risks other people are notable to and they enjoy that….at one point I created second Sunday art fests andhad local artists and local musicians it was a lot of work but it was fun andhelped out local artists….I even had a customer who sent me pictures of her andher very young daughter outside my store and a picture of her grown up daughterout in front of my store…..I couldn’t have done it without my awesome employeesone has been with me since my 3rd month in business I had to go out of town mydad was getting an award…..I spoke with her on phone gave her the keys and saiddon’t worry just wing it……my other employee has been with me almost 11years…..other employees have always stayed for long periods of time…….anyways Icould go on and on and on……..oh look squirrel…..
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always been creative thanks to mymom….she worked with clay and painted and sewed….in high school I wanted a camelhair coat so she signed me up for tailoring classes to make my own….I made mostof my own clothes…I even kept through all these years one of my hippiedresses….which my daughter wore in high school…I made all my kids Halloweencostumes….my daughter was a fairy princess riding a stuffed horse….I did somelocal art fests with my paintings in high school and won some ribbons…I alsowon a scholarship to the high school program at the art institute ofchicago….my paintings were displayed in a bank….I went to the university of Arizona,the American academy of art in Chicago in advertising and design…I worked for abead and Indian jewelry store in Tucson and that started me beading…which issold and still create….I learned stained glass and sold to interior designersin vail Colorado while living there and raising my daughter…when I was pregnantwith my son my husband left….I painted t-shirts and sweatshirts with stickfigures of peoples families with color of hair and eyes and names…some of mycustomers still wear them….I have done ceramics and sold them in my store….Ihave designed fun jackets made from t-shirts and sold them in my store….I wasable to do all my own ads for the store….im a.d.d. So I still do all of thesethings….i’ve painted things on walls of my customers I am continually trying totake art classes to learn and create….it’s my soul…..selling and supportinglocal and American artists has filled that part while I raised my kids on myown…..and now at 65 I’m trying to do my own art……i’ve created car stickers “putdown your phone and no one will get hurt” I’m working on a line of post itnotes….very funny…stay tuned…..
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well we would definitely have to eat dinner atsteak 44 my son is general manager there…I’m very proud of him….we would go dosome fun things with my daughter and her twins and 9 year old stepdaughter….the aquarium……zoo lights, the botanical gardens….any and all artfests….definitely shopping….go walk around cave creek…oreganos….breakfastclub…..butters….jalapenos….go listen to Harrison begay or Ethan Newman….takethe drive up thru Wickenburg have lunch at Anita’s Mexican food then off to Yarnellgo off road to the brewery that’s a ways off 89 listen to music have somethingto drink or munch on….spend some time in Prescott…eat at jens or zekes forbreakfast go hang out at the office on cortez….visit the 3 galleries on Montezuma…Ianrussels…van Gogh’s and Prescott artists coalition….drive up to Jerome andlisten to music at the spirit room….walk thru the shops….then on to cottonwoodand camp Verde for all the antique stores…go to Sedona and feel the magic ofthe red rock….drive thru oak creek canyon….go off roading thru some nationalparks…..if we have time drive thru Tucson down to Bisbee and stop at all thelittle towns along the way…stay at this air bnb that is off this dirt road thathas dogs and horses and goats….talk them into staying longer than a week…..
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shout out to my employees who have become my family…. I never could have donethis without your support and your organizational skills….you’ve always kept meon track thru my crazy home life raising kids taking care of parents…..all mycrazy ideas for the store….to my two kids who I never thought I would live thrutheir childhood…..who played at the store while I worked…..and have grown up tobe amazing adults…..and to my parents who gave me their support whether it washelping out in the store or helping with my kids……and to my loyal customers whohave helped me thru this adventure and supported me and have become friends…..