Happy 5th Birthday, Whiskeyjack!

Happy 5th Birthday, Whiskeyjack!

Some Whiskeyjack lore…

Just over 5 years ago, I asked Brian about the rent subsidy the DWBIA was giving out. I was working full-time at Shopify, and while I had this idea bouncing around in my brain for a Canadian-made souvenir shop, what I didn't have was the organizational skills and spare time to make it work by myself. That's when Brian said: 
Spoiler alert: she was interested. 
Little did I know, Katie had her own lifelong dream to own a small shop, further inspired by Rose Apothecary in Schitt's Creek. I met with Katie at The Squirrel Cage on April 15th, 2019. 
We barely knew each other. But I had the skills and hookups to build a store on Shopify, she had the social media knowledge, and we had a lovely friend (Sarah of Fin Designs) who'd help take my little whiskeyjack drawing to an actually adorable logo. 
We made a plan to open by the first day of the Downtown Windsor Farmer's Market, 40 days later. Like a couple of insane weirdos. We had shelves already, the location was set up to be a store. How hard could it be?
Spoiler alert #2: It was hard.
We dismantled this wooden house(?). We stripped wallpaper (very poorly…my bad). We painted walls. We patched 800 screw holes and/or hid them with a curtain. We ordered our first few thousand dollars of product and recruited lots of help from our loving friends and family. All while Katie couldn't walk because she had a whack back. All of that to say, it was a hell of a fun time. We ate a lot of Buuntz Ice Cream and pulled some late nights, but it all came together.
Alex, the best person to call when you need a clean paint line. 
Opening Day: May 25th, 2019… we were excited, but also tentative. Would people show up? Was this place as cool as we thought it was? Would anybody like us? 
Spoiler alert #3: You loved us. 
From day one, we knew we'd created something special. We could tell from the number of people who paid us a visit that Windsor needed what we'd built. A place to find unique, Canadian-made gifts that you couldn't find elsewhere. Somewhere to send your relatives when they come in for a visit and want to bring some maple syrup home in maple leaf bottles. A place to find cards that make you laugh out loud, and chocolate that keeps you coming back for more (…you're damn right, I'm an enabler!). 
My nephew, Drew, seemed especially enthralled on our opening day! 
The story doesn't end there, of course. We've been here for five years, which means we've learned a lot. Here are a few of our shop lessons: 
  1. Learn how to communicate with your business partner. In a similar vein to the five love languages, figure out what they need. Happy partner, happy business.
  2. Birds or cats. Put that shit on anything, it will fly off the shelves.
  3. Buy more feathered geese from Lowe's that we use as decor because someone asks to buy one each week. The geese aren't for sale! (…yet).
  4. Opening a Canadian-made souvenir shop focused on tourists 9 months before the onset of a global pandemic that closed the border for 2 years just straight up sucked? But hey, we made it.
  5. Offer free delivery, because “I never go downtown” never made a business successful.
  6. Love thy neighbour(s). We grew up next to Maiden Lane Wine & Spirits and A Dog's Breakfast. We have matured across from Craft Heads Brewing Co. We've done our best to support the businesses in the core and throughout the city, because we know without patrons, our favourite places would cease to exist. Keep showing up.
  7. Accept the unpaid labour of a couple of retired cuties who just want to see their daughter succeed (blessed to have you, Rick and Rita!)
  8. Create a community around your brand. People buy from people. Our people are our people, know what I mean? The fact that you're reading this tells me you do.
  9. Be proud of what you've accomplished. Sometimes, we don't allow ourselves to take a step back and imagine a world without Whiskeyjack. How boring would that be?
  10. Appreciate the small wins, because the big ones might be few and far between.

Bonus lesson: always Cherry Chip.
While we're still here after five years, this last one has been especially challenging. Everything costs more, and even groceries feel like a luxury at times. We've sacrificed our personal paycheques to keep this business operating. Other businesses in the community keep closing at an alarming rate.
We're hoping that when you need a special gift, you remember us. Because Amazon doesn't need your help, but we do. We don't want to be another statistic, we want to be here forever. But we can't do it without you. So what do you say we celebrate and look forward to the next five years?

Anniversary Party Details

On Saturday, May 25th, we're celebrating 5 years in the Whiskeyjack game!
To join in on the fun:
✨ Make any purchase to be entered into our gift card raffle (online or in-store): you could win one $55 gift card or one $110 gift card!
✨ Spend $25+ and get a free birthday cake cookie from Mamas Cookies
✨ Come say hi! If you haven't been in for a bit, we'd love to see you.