It was exactly two years ago on this night, Tracy and I stayed up till early morning, finishing up final steps of preparation for our big day – the opening day for Tango Zulu Imports – on May 8th, 2010. The walls had been painted, displays set, signs made, price tags applied. All that remained was for us to carry the cash register to the shop the next morning, plug it in, and ring up our sales, except one minor detail.
We did not how how to program or operate it.
Fast forward 24 months, Tango Zulu Imports is becoming a favorite stop for many visitors to Port Gamble, looking for a unique gift. We are getting mentions in both local and national press, and with the support of our customers have operated successfully for two years while bringing truly unique, handmade artisan gifts and products from over thirty countries.
From the first pair of chopsticks we sold at the store, Tango Zulu Imports has grown tremendously. We have now nearly 2000 followers on Facebook, and have become one of the most prominent online sites for African baskets, which has become a favorite for both our customers and ourselves. Meanwhile, our other fair trade, handmade artisan goods selection grows daily.
Both Tracy and I started this business as newcomers in owning a business, retail or otherwise. From the start, we know we picked a very challenging time to start a business, when the country is still struggling mightily to recover from the deepest recession over 70 years. We wanted to make sure we do our best to ensure the artisans who make our products are paid a fair wage, so we focused on fair trade products; we wanted also to make sure our products are priced reasonably, that we will sell only at prices that we would have been willing to buy had we been a customer, so we focused on running the business as lean as we could. We did not hire an accountant, a consultant, a tax adviser or any other help. We did everything ourselves. It made very long days, but hard work paid off. We managed to grow the business without borrowing any money from the bank or injecting any additional equity. We are now ready to hire a couple of part-time employees.
The past two years have been fantastic. We have met so many thousands of people coming through our store front, many have wonderful stories of their own, some have become friends. We have built up the largest inventory to date. Whether someone is looking for a one of a kind birthday present, a unique gift for Mother’s Day, a gorgeous present for a wedding or buying Christmas presents for the entire family, Tango Zulu Imports will certainly have many choices that are fun, surprising and memorable.