On Saturday October 14th, we were bestowed the Small Business of the Year Award by the St. Louis Downtown Neighborhood Association. We were honored, proud, and thankful.
Anyone who knows me very well, knows that I suffer from severe stage fright. It was never a really good fit for my previous career; I had to give a lot of presentations. Now, don’t get me wrong. I talk, and I am opinionated, and don’t mind sharing that on a regular basis. Anyone who knows me well, knows that too.
So, when it came time to accept the award, I was ready. I had a very small thank you speech in my head. It was not too long. It was thoughtful, appropriate and I was prepared to handle it. Then I took the mic, said the first sentence, said the last sentence and exited. Wait, what happened. The middle part was left out. The first sentence and the last sentence without the middle part made no sense; except maybe to give the perception that I don’t care for Downtown. But that’s not true. I love Downtown. So, if my throat would not have started closing…if my voice hadn’t started quivering…if my knees hadn’t started shaking…this is what I would have said:
“In September of 2003, the company I worked for moved its offices to Downtown St. Louis. It was a Monday and I immediately hated it. I bitched, moaned and complained. I had to park in a lot three blocks away. I had to go get that car parked 3 blocks away every time I had a meeting. I had to go down an elevator and go outside to smoke (yes, I could smoke in the crappy office space we were in previously and no I can’t even fathom it today). The list of things that peeved me is too long to keep going.
Then, a month later, I went on my first loft tour. I was amazed. The living spaces were awesome. I visited a building in Downtown West that my father actually owned a business in before the firestorm. Big dreams and a $5,000 down payment check later, I knew I was hooked. Things started changing. I figured out meetings should be held at my office. I smoked a lot less because I was too busy and it was too much trouble to go downstairs. I could literally walk around any corner and grab lunch (I never ate out before that). I talked all the time about how I was going to finish my loft and how cool it was going to be and nothing ever happened.
In 2005, I had my best life experience and my worst life experience. My best life experience was marrying Bob. My worst life experience was losing my father to cancer. I was incredibly happy and incredibly sad all of the time. My mother was devastated; her best friend was gone. Bob and I quickly decided to finish that loft and give my mother somewhere new to celebrate Christmas. We got it finished and Christmas was had.
A lot of things have changed over the years but some things have not. We still live in that loft in the building where my father once had a business. We still spend every Christmas with my mother. And when it came time to start our next chapter and start a new business, we chose Downtown. We found the right space in March of 2015 and signed the lease. It was a Monday and we are still here.
Thank you for the recognition and we look forward to the continued progress to make Downtown St. Louis the best destination for all residents, business owners, and visitors.”