The Eco Chic Story

Sell The Damn Hutch

By August 11, 2016 7 Comments


“How much for the hutch?”

The hutch is not for sale, but the cloth diapers on it are.

“How much for the yellow dining room table?”

The table is not for sale, but the colorful BPA free dishes on it are.

If I had had a dime for every time I heard those questions in our first year of business, I might have been able to pay the rent.


We were behind on rent, and each day I wondered if the doors of Eco Chic would stay open.

It seemed like such a good idea in the beginning.  Give local women a place to purchase safe, natural and eco-friendly products right here in Fargo.  The “green” movement was booming and there were no local options to purchase such products in Fargo.  I was a distributor of Shaklee products at the time and while I was out making home visits with moms selling them the natural cleaners by Shaklee, I heard it over and over and over again.  “I wish Fargo had a “green” store.”  So it didn’t take me long to realize that combining my current business as a Shaklee distributor with a retail store for other green products was a GENIUS idea.  Just Genius.

(The foreshadowing is free, chips are extra)  Oh wait, you’re not from around here….never mind.

Just Genius.

So I thought.

There I was, 16 months after opening my genius store, sitting on the floor in from of the checkout counter crying.  It was almost time to open the store for the day and I felt so hopeless.  I was sure it would be another day with little to no sales and I didn’t know what to do to change that.

We had started to sell everything we owned to pay rent and there wasn’t much left.  Tate even sold his pickup truck and was driving a beat up old Subaru that had been rolled and was all dented up.  (If you know me, you are asking why I was still driving my Lexus at this time.  Let’s not talk about that.  It involves Tate going duck hunting and a new wife who needed a reality check.  I got that reality check, a few months later. NO worries)

After a few moments, I got up off the floor dried my eyes and opened the store.  I had heard a motivational speaker once say, “Pray and Move your Feet” and that is what I was going to do for another day.

So I unlocked the doors and waited to see if we got any customers that day.

We did.


And she asked.

“How much for the hutch?”


No, I didn’t yell at her, but I wanted to.  What was wrong with these people?  They asked time and time again for cloth diapers, yet NOBODY was buying them.

The day finally ended, and I headed home to Tate.

As we laid in bed that night I shared with him the fact that we had yet another extremely slow day.  I didn’t tell him about the crying part, because truthfully he didn’t need to hear it, and I a was little embarrassed to admit it.

I hadn’t asked his permission or advice on starting the business, and he could have said a hundred times. “I told you so”,  but he never did.

What he did say though changed the course of Eco Chic and our futures forever.

As I lamented over the disappointment of the day and the daily questions about the price of the hutch, Tate laid there and listened….AND THEN, from the darkness of our bedroom, as we lay staring at the ceiling, Tate uttered these words.

“Sell The Damn Hutch.”



As I rolled that around in my mind for just a minute, it didn’t take me long to realize that I had been so caught up in the idea of what Eco Chic was suppose to be, that I hadn’t taken even a moment to ask, “What do my customers want?”

So there I was.

In the dark.

With Tate.

Coming to grips with what I needed to do in order to move forward.

Little did I know that those four words would change our lives forever, open up new possibilities, pay our rent, introduce us to Chip and Joanna Gaines, buy our house in the country, and start us on the path in an industry, with a career we love so dearly.

So the next time you see Tate, give him a big hug (he loves PDA. ;)) because that night, Tate saved Eco Chic.


See Below the “Damn Hutch” and next to it you can view the corner of the yellow table we sold.  Which actually sold faster than the hutch, once we put them up for sale.


I like this version better….

You know, that time George Clooney stopped by Eco Chic for a cup coffee.


Just kidding, if George Clooney had stopped by the store do you think we would still be talking about Tate?

Just kidding.  (Hi Tate!) (Who am I kidding, Tate doesn’t read my blog)


Tate’s Wife

In the Beginning ~ The Eco Chic Story ~ Chapter 1
The Eco Chic Story: Junk Market


  • Hooray for Tate!! Boys are good for something…sometes. 😉 sometimes the simplest things elude us. Great story!!

  • Ardythe Kurle says:

    I love this story! Can’t wait to hear more!

    • Maria says:

      Thanks Ardythe! It’s hard to put yourself out there. Every time I right about our story I say to myself “Who the heck cares?” Thanks for caring. 🙂 xoxo

  • Deb Kuecker says:

    As I was reading, my thoughts were the same as Tate, “sell the ____ hutch! You are too funny, but I am sure God had a plan in mind for you all along and sometimes it takes us a while to take the right path! Sometimes we need to just wake up and a smell the roses!

    • Maria says:

      Deb- Thanks for reading. I’ve often found in life the simplest path is sometimes the one we don’t even see. I’m grateful for my Tater Tot and his wisdom.

  • DiB says:

    My story is a tiny bit similar. The first piece i did was a Hutch- I called it ugly Betty. I became very proud of it and actually used it in my home.
    My interest in upcylcing furniture increased to an obsession {darn Annie Sloan] and I ended up with painted furniture everywhere in my house.
    I decided to try my hand at selling my pieces and an antique mall. My sales were gradual but all of a sudden POOF it was all gone. I needed to restock quickly. I wasn’t prepared. I had a few pieces in reserve but not enough to make an inviting display. I was fretting and then my husband said, Damn, just sell ugly Betty! I couldn’t believe he had the nerve to say that to moi!
    However, I did Not because he was right, ya know, but just because :-). It happened to be the first piece that sold on my second go round. I so hope ugly Betty is in a good environment.

    P.S Maria, I just want to take a moment to thank you for sharing all of your experience and painting tips.Very unselfish -like ! All has helped me with my little “hobby business” tremendously. I love love love your tutorials. More please .
    Much continued success to you and your family!

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