March 1996, 20 years ago …we had just emptied our warehouse in Provence and filled up a 40′ container of goods to ship to San Diego…Taking a big lip of faith that changed our life !
Since our first visit in 1992, we had dreamed of opening up our own shop in California , prepared for a couple of years and we were actually doing it ! This year is a special year as we are looking back at what we have achieved .
It is hard to imagine what a 40′ container load looks like ! We measured everything, made a map of our container “puzzle” , planned how to load all the palettes and boxes ; but with the rest of bulk things it was still hard to figure out if it would all fit in …
Pascal closing up our boxes
With some help we got it ready to go just in time…
It’s the big day… the container is coming this morning . We’ll have only 2 hours to load !!! Pascal with his mum and childhood friend Michel who is going to give us a big hand.
Pascal and his brother looking at the last pieces being loaded . The driver of the truck thought it would never fit … but it did . We could not have fit an other piece of cardboard !
Once our container left and only after we had the receipt that it had actually shipped out we could apply for our visas …what a stress ! With our suitcase ready to go, we had to wait… A week later with our brand new working visas in our passports we were buying a flight ticket for San Diego leaving the next day ! Here we are in Marseille aiport with Pascal’s mum and a big box containing her old bike. We have been displaying it in front of the shop everyday since !
The neighborhood as it was in 1996
Monet’s Bouquet flower shop across the street with Marty and Betty .
“A la Francaise ” , the French Bakery behind the flower shop…it was a small French corner !
We have about a month before we get the big delivery so we are not wasting time !
With Erick our painter and friend since
By the end of March we were ready
The second Big Day : April 5th…our container has made it across oceans…. same drill : 2 hours to unload everything ! Our new friends are all here to help us out 🙂
Erick our painter handling the forklift
Our neighbor Bill checking it all out . Is this the most exciting thing that happened in this corner or what !?!
The boys : Pascal , Erick , Karl , Keith and Kecho ! What an experience for all of us…
It sounded like a great idea to promote our shop at the “Spring Home and Garden Show” in Del Mar …but we had not been to the show before so we had no idea it would be more of a home improvement show than a decorating show . Nevertheless, we rented a truck and headed to Del Mar ! We set up our booth, gave some business cards and made our very first American Dollar here !
The “Grand Opening” …. What is a Grand Opening ??? We are opening yes …this week yes … so this is just the “soft opening”. That was one of the many cultural differences, concepts that were totally foreign to us a the time …That Tuesday after the Del Mar show we opened our doors !
It wasn’t a Grand Opening and we never actually did one… We got so busy !! First clients , neighbors …everybody came ! Our shop was buzzing and we were exhausted but so happy 🙂 We were struggling with our very poor English but it didn’t seam to matter to people. One thing we will never forget is the warm welcome we got from the entire community. All Mission Hills came in , the neighbors brought us some French wine, Champagne, food …we had never seen that …that’s what we liked so much about the cultural differences !
We sure are in California ! This is one of my all time favorite photo of Pascal and neighbor Bill who gave me my very first hydrangea’s clippings and taught me how to grow them …see what happened next ! Now the whole side of the shop is a giant hydrangea bush . I am sure Bill will be happy that I continued his legacy….