Canadian Deborah Cerasia shares her and her husband's journey from humble beginnings to creating a business they love, a dream home in the Dominican Republic, and a future that includes time in Italy. So many pearls of wisdom from her about money, love, family, and community. Unforgettable indeed!
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Commercial: [00:00:02] Welcome. You are listening to the overseas life redesign podcast where you'll hear fine, relaxed, and inspirational interviews with people who are really living the dream. I'm Dawn Fleming an attorney turned alchemist and your host for the show coming to you from the tropical island paradise of East level net us Mexico. Listen to conversations with courageous souls who step out of their comfort zone and designed a new way of life. They'll share their experiences, wisdom and offer practical steps you can take to redesign your life overseas. Listen, and you'll believe if you can dream it, you can achieve it.
Dawn Fleming: [00:00:43] I am here today with Deborah Sarah. And we had a chance to talk a little bit over the last couple of months. I met her through my five-day workshop, How to Live in Paradise without worrying about the price tag. And we had a delightful conversation. And I wanted to get her on my podcast because she had some really wonderful stories and words of wisdom that I thought were important to sharing. So thank you so much for being with me today. I really appreciate your time.
Deborah Sarah: [00:01:13] It's great to be here.
Dawn Fleming: [00:01:15] Cool. So we were talking before I turned on the recording about this story that she had told me that just stuck with me in my mind about a financial challenge that she and her husband had many years ago. That was resolved in an excellent way. And I wanted her to share that. But now, just before we when we were talking, she was sort of telling me about the real origins of her and her husband's relationship with one another. And I really think there are some real golden nuggets in there that people need to hear. And so if you don't mind, I would love for you to talk about sort of the beginnings of your relationship with your husband and kind of how you started out on your marriage together.
Deborah Sarah: [00:02:09] Well, it's my husband all the time. Whenever we're having an argument because I went six blocks to find a husband, he went over six thousand miles to find a wife. He was in Canada visiting an uncle who was very ill and did pass away. And he was staying with another uncle that was here. And when we met so shortly after we met, his mother in Italy was very ill. And he and he returned to Italy and got there just a few hours after she passed away, which was kind of sad. I didn't expect him to come back, but he did and he came back for me. So long story short, we got married with basically one paycheck in the bank. So we started with basically nothing where he was working. He was working in a hospital at the time and he used to have lunches. There was very cheap to buy lunch, actually cheaper than making something at home and taking them. So at night, when I was emptying his pockets to wash his uniform, I used to take his spare change the nickels, dimes, and pennies and leave him the quarters for lunch the next day. And I would save them. And when I would go to the bank with his paycheck to pay bills and whatnot, I would put that change into the bank. So it was sometimes a dollar, sometimes too. And he teased me mercyful with it. It's like, oh, what are you doing that for? You know, it's nothing. Well, not too long later, we purchased the building and the heating system went, so we needed a new boiler. The new boiler costs nine hundred dollars, which of course we didn't have because we were still operating on a shoestring, had no real reserves, but I just happened to have almost enough in that little savings account. But I kept putting a dollar, two dollars, five dollars in, and almost enough to pay for a new boiler. So the building had heat. The tenants that were in the building had heat. My husband laughed his head off because he had to admit what that one dollar and two dollars here and there really added up for when you did. That scenario has played itself out many times over the years. And that's basically how we've managed. I always set aside a little bit, no matter how small it is for when you're really in a bind.
Dawn Fleming: [00:04:48] An emergency fund. Yes, very important, especially in the last year we've been living through both sides and come in very handy. Yeah, it's a great story, and as I said, it really stuck with me from when we spoke the first time. And then if you wouldn't mind sharing the story about going to Italy with your son.
Deborah Sarah: [00:05:15] When he was two and a half,
Dawn Fleming: [00:05:19] Yeah
Deborah Sarah: [00:05:19] So we had managed to by that time to save roughly eight or nine thousand dollars, and my mother wanted us to buy a house because at that time that was enough money to buy a house. But we had not been to Italy. His family over there didn't really believe he was actually married. So we planned a trip to Italy to take our son so they could meet our son and he could meet his relatives over there. He was only two and a half and he still remembers that trip to this day. He's 50 now. So we changed our flight to get there so we would have more disposable spending funds. And we went we were gone for five weeks, have a wonderful time. Came back home. Our flight was delayed arriving back in Toronto. And we don't live in Toronto. We live approximately four hours from Toronto. And it was too late to catch either bus or train to get back. So we took the last fifty-three dollars we had in our pocket and rented a car to drive home. When we arrived home, he had taken a leave of absence from work, so he didn't know if he was going to have a job because they told him he couldn't take time off before he left. The rent was due. We had no food in the house, phone bills, the electric bills, that kind of thing was all due and we literally did not have any money left in a couple of dollars and change. But hey, you only live once. So we got home. He went to work the next morning, discovered he still had a job, and not only did he still have a job because he was an excellent worker and went over and above and did overtime whenever they asked and all of that. So not only did he still have a job, he had his two weeks pay from before we left, was waiting for him. Also, statutory holiday pay was waiting for him. And he also had his vacation pay from the front here waiting for him. So we have enough money to pay our bills and continue on. So, yeah, it was a risk. It was a big risk. Yeah. My mom was very angry with us for a very long time. But yeah, our son, who is now fifty, still remembers that trip. We have wonderful memories, wonderful pictures. His family got to meet all of our family and accepted that. Yeah, this previous playboy was now actually married and had a son and they were doing well.
Dawn Fleming: [00:07:59] And I just think that's wonderful. And we were talking about ourselves. You're a risk-taker. And I think that's one of the reasons we connected initially. But can you sort of talk about that in terms of is that do you think that's just your nature or how do you think that that came about?
Deborah Sarah: [00:08:25] I think it's more my husband's nature. He tends to do things and I'm the guy who has to figure out how to pay for them. So he's the spender. I'm the saver. But we work together. We work together. Well, I've learned over the years you don't tell him no, because the minute you say no, he's going full steam ahead. What you do is you say, I think we need to wait a little while and you lay out the program of what's going to take place while you're waiting. And that seems to work. It seems to have kept him waiting maybe a month, maybe six months, sometimes even a year, which gives me time to get the finances in order.
Dawn Fleming: [00:09:18] Sure.Sure. So you kind of balance each other out, it sounds like.
Deborah Sarah: [00:09:23] Yeah, we do. And but at the same time, I very seldom disagree with what he wants to do. A lot of it is risky. We started our business with no money. He had a sewing machine. He's a tailor, designer, tailor by trade. He had a sewing machine that was one of the pedal ones. It was actually his uncle. We went to the bank and asked to borrow three hundred and fifty dollars to buy a used machine from someone in town that was selling an industrial machine. They wouldn't give us the money. So I took out a credit card and I put it on the credit card. So knowing that I could make payments on the credit card. So it's basically we take risks, but we also plan. We don't take any risks that are going to put us under. So we always make sure that there's the ability to fund whatever we're doing. A lot of times needing funding means we work more or we do something else is going to earn some money. I save whatever I can whenever I can, even if it's only a dollar here and there. I put it away when I have enough. I invested in something that's going to give me back some money. So yeah, we do have stocks that do have mutual funds, that type of thing. We bought a building with almost no money down. We bought a house with no money down. That's another story that's really the government has this program to provide first-time house buyers with a bit of a break. So they actually subsidized part of the mortgage payment. So we bought a house. Now, we didn't have any money. We had just opened our business. We had just bought a camper van, which was quite expensive back in those days, but we only needed a thousand dollars down to buy the house. Which we didn't have. So we made an agreement with the seller, the company that was selling the houses to pay them the thousand dollars down at closing, which we postponed for about a month and a half, then my husband went into work. He was still working at the hospital at the time. And the house came with a fridge and a stove and a washer-dryer, which we had our own for our stoves. And I had one of those little combination washers and dryers. So he went to work that night and he sold the fridge and the stove and the washer in the dryer out of the house to some of the nurses that he worked with on the condition that they didn't pick them up for a month. But they have to pay for it right then and there or the next night when they went to work. So they paid him for the appliances. We put the down payment on the house. And when we moved in, he made arrangements for them to pick up the appliances. However, when we closed on the house, we didn't realize that there would be taxes to pay, water bill to pay, closing costs. We were the first time we bought a house, so we didn't know that. So that was another story. But anyhow, we bought the house.
Dawn Fleming: [00:12:54] Well, that's great. Yeah, you take advantage of those programs when they cross your path. So to you, you've done well with the businesses through the years. And at some point, I know you invested in the Dominican Republic.
Deborah Sarah: [00:13:13] Do you want to tell me how that came about? My husband's doctor, who was a customer of ours at the time we had menswear as well as Ladieswear, came into the shop one day, tossed a photo album and a set of keys on the counter, and said to my husband, you're a workaholic, you need to take a vacation. He said, Here's a photo album of our condo in the Dominican Republic. Here are the keys to the condo. Make arrangements to go. So that's an order that was in order. That was a doctor's prescription. So I was actually at the time working at another company. We needed a few funds. So I got a job outside. I worked in our business as well as working outside. So he called me up and said, listen, this is what we have to do. So he contacted a friend who was a travel agent and to make arrangements for this trip for the flight and discovered that at the particular time that we would have been available to go, there were no flights going into that particular city. We would have to fly him elsewhere and it was into the Dominican Republic. So the travel agent suggested, listen to what he said, but I can get you into Santo Domingo. He said I'm an all-inclusive for basically the same price as what a flight into port potties would have cost. So I said to my husband, sounds like a plan to me. We don't have to worry about damaging something in somebody else's place. We won't have to cook. We won't have to go out and buy groceries or anything like that. Let's do it. So we went and had a lovely one week stay. Met some people there who were also from Canada who were also Italian. They introduced us to some other people and they showed us their condo. I'm in a building that there were other places for sale and we thought, you know, we can do this. So we came home, we sent our two boys down for a week to see if they liked it, they came back, we went for two weeks with friends to have another look, and we bought a condo knowing that we didn't have the money upfront. But, you know, credit cards, a little line of credit kind of thing that I knew I could make payments on. We bought the condo and at first, we couldn't go for a very long time yearly, but we started going for two weeks and then three weeks and then four weeks. And then eventually, as our business evolved, we started spending five to five and a half months during the winter in the Dominican Republic. And this year we haven't been able to do that because of covid, but we're hoping to go down sometime in February for at least a couple of weeks.
Dawn Fleming: [00:16:20] Now, do you rent that out when you're not there or is it strictly a second home?
Deborah Sarah: [00:16:24] It's strictly a second home. There are a lot of people, ex-pats or snowbirds like us from Canada and the United States that do rent out their places. We decided not to do that. We've spent a fair amount of money doing renovations, making the condo to what we want. We live down there basically the same way we live at home. We have a lot of personal belongings in that there. So for us, we prefer just to lock it up that way. When we get there, we know exactly where everything is. So it's just regular maintenance, which being seaside, you probably know that yourself, too. There's a lot of that because salt air does a lot of damage. But we don't have to worry about not finding dishes or not finding clothes or having things missing. So we just lock it up.
Dawn Fleming: [00:17:21] Now, how long ago was it that you purchased?
Deborah Sarah: [00:17:23] In nineteen ninety,
Dawn Fleming: [00:17:25] OK, so it's paid for.
Deborah Sarah: [00:17:28] It was paid for within five years of the spying.
Dawn Fleming: [00:17:32] That's what I assumed it probably was but just wanted to confirm that. So and I imagine it's gone up in value since you purchased it.
Deborah Sarah: [00:17:41] Considerably. Yes. Yeah,
Dawn Fleming: [00:17:43] Yeah. So it's so you not only just bought it for a second home for, for yourselves, but also as an investment. Was that a part of the decision or was it really not.
Deborah Sarah: [00:17:56] Not really. At that time we weren't looking at it as an investment. The thing is down in the Dominican Republic and I don't know what it is like where you are, but down in the Dominican Republic, the area that we're in, because we're on the south shore, we're not up in the port area. So where we are, it's very easy to buy. It's very difficult to sell. However, I think we paid fifty thousand us, which was a little bit more for us because we're Canadian. Sure. And right now, if I want a quick sale, I could sell it for one hundred thousand. OK, if I, if I want to wait until I find the right buyer, we could probably sell it for around one hundred and fifty thousand us. So it's not for us. It wasn't a big thing. We figure even if we sold it for fifty thousand dollars us right now it does not always a penny. We don't pay property tax on it. So basically our costs through the years have been our condo fees and our maintenance costs. So it really doesn't cost us very much to have it.
Dawn Fleming: [00:19:09] So it's not a large expense. It's pretty inexpensive for those items.
Deborah Sarah: [00:19:15] Yeah, it's not it's not a big expense, I think. I think right now I haven't looked at the exchange rate lately, but we pay three thousand Dominican pesos month condo fees. So that's, I don't know, one hundred and fifty dollars. That's not a huge amount. And like you say, it's. They're taking care of the exterior maintenance, right, so so the cells that are covered with that, yes, The complex we're in, actually a four it's a Ford building, but there are two outside stacks and two joined inside and each has four apartments. So there are 16 apartments. There is a wall around it. It is gated, but anybody can get in and out. I mean, it's no big thing to get in and out. We do have what they call a Sereno who's more or less supposedly a night watchman. But several years back, we actually built a little house on the property. So he lives there, and he basically sleeps there and he looks after the garden. He keeps the pool clean. He paints the gates when they get painted, that type of thing. So he does general maintenance.
Dawn Fleming: [00:20:37] Awesome. Cool. So I know when we talked before, you also had some interest in possibly getting a place in Italy.
Deborah Sarah: [00:20:48] We have actually before we bought the place in the Dominican Republic, we had actually on one of our trips to Italy, looked at buying something there. However, it was we heard a lot of things about black taxes, which we didn't want to be involved with. And also it was a question of it's quite a long flight from Canada to go to Italy and then travel from major airport to where we were looking at buying near the beach in southern Italy. And we got to wondering how often we would actually be able to go. Whereas with the Dominican Republic, it's a short drive to Toronto, park your car in the long term, parking for a week or two weeks, hop on a flight. You're there in four hours. So it just and sensibility, the Dominican Republic is actually a lot like southern Italy, assignment wise and beach wise and that type of thing. The language is Spanish instead of Italian. But for my Italian born and raised husband, it wasn't a problem. And I have learned to be I wouldn't say that that I speak Spanish well, but I speak it enough to get by. People understand me and I can do what I need to do. So it works.
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Dawn Fleming: [00:23:53] Welcome back to the Overseas Life Redesign podcast, thank you so much for being here, and we invite you to subscribe, if you like, what you hear.
Dawn Fleming: [00:24:29] So, yes, we were also talking about your plans for the future, like a lot of people, they were disrupted this year with regard to your business and building plans and so forth. But just kind of tell me a little bit about what you're thinking in the future after we kind of get through this Kobe thing. And what's your dream life look like?
Deborah Sarah: [00:24:58] Well, back in twenty nineteen, when we were in Italy, we were looking at purchasing a place. They're thinking that now was the time we actually have been retired and went back into the business. So we were retired for almost 20 years and just three years ago, back in twenty-sixteen, went back into the business. So in twenty nineteen, when we were in Italy, we were thinking of buying a place, but discussing it, we thought, you know, it really doesn't make sense at our age for us to buy a place we can just rent. Now, fortunately, my husband's family home is owned by two of his nieces. Now that his brother has passed and they don't live there, they live in Rome or close to Rome. So we could rent from them basically. Or there are other places in the little town where he was born that you can do a long term rental on for several months. So we're still looking at that. We were going to firm that up in twenty, which of course, that trip had to be canceled. So we're still kind of thinking that we're thinking we could spend five or six months in the Dominican where we have a place we could spend four or five months in Italy renting. We could spend a month in Canada with our son and his family here. And we could spend a few weeks or months in Florida with our daughter in law who lives there. Now, our son has passed, but our daughter in law is there with her son and is looking forward to being able to see us again because that all those plans have to be canceled, too. So we still haven't firmed up anything yet. For the moment. We're stuck in Canada and we might go out and see other Canadians. We might end up staying in Canada, keeping our house, or downsizing into something smaller here and then just spending six months in the Dominican and six months here in Canada. So so things are kind of a little bit up in the air. We have several on the hot plate and just trying to decide once this whole covid thing is settled what exactly it is that we're going to do.
Dawn Fleming: [00:27:32] Yeah, I know it's put plans on hold for lots of us for sure.
Deborah Sarah: [00:27:38] But I have plans A, B, C, and D, I remember that from the words of that.
Dawn Fleming: [00:27:47] So you start I remember you said you were retired for 20 years. And then remind me again, what prompted you to start the business?
Deborah Sarah: [00:27:57] Well, my husband's a designer, Taylor, so it always was in his mind to start a business. Now, when we got married, his uncle, who he was living with actually before we got married. Another funny story for you. I had been dating him for about six weeks. This was before he went back to Italy when his mother passed. And, um, I. I passed by his uncle's house all the time. His uncle used to sit on the steps. So one day when I was going down, my uncle was on the steps. I stopped to say hello to him ,and he started talking to me and he said, you know, there's this building, blah, blah, blah. He says that I can rent until he can open the shop and you guys can live in the apartment upstairs. You've only been dating for six weeks. I was only 17 years old. Marriage wasn't even in the picture. And here's this guy telling me, oh, you know, why don't you guys get when you get married, I can rent a building. You can he can open his shop and you can live in the apartment upstairs. No, it was a little fast. But you know what? Five months later, we were married. Grant granting we can open a business. Yet we did have opportunities with his family to take advantage of funding, to do various things. Neither one of us wanted that. Our whole thing is if we get tired of the. Tired of the building, if we don't like what's happening, we can set a match to it and we don't know anything to anybody, and that's kind of what our philosophy has been. So, yeah, maybe it's taken us a little longer to get where we are, but we're not beholden to anybody.
Dawn Fleming: [00:29:46] Right. You've retained your freedom to decide the future, and.
Deborah Sarah: [00:29:50] That's really important is to have that freedom. So freedom in paradise without having to worry about it. Yeah, we're a little bit different than a lot of the people that are joining the academy, and excuse me that is taking your free course because a lot of them are looking to move permanently out of where they're at. And a lot of them are looking at how they're going to fund that. We don't have to worry about that because we've already done all of that.
Dawn Fleming: [00:30:23] Right.
Deborah Sarah: [00:30:23] So now we're just when do we want to really retire for good and where do we want to be for the entire year?
Dawn Fleming: [00:30:34] Right. So did you say what prompted the start of the business when you went back? After 20 years, I think.
Deborah Sarah: [00:30:44] Well, the business is actually that it is incorporated. So it is a corporation and we are shareholders. And it was in the management of other people. One of them was a family member who had a full-time job outside the business and just was at the point where they could not continue. They weren't managing the business really anymore. And the employees that were there did not have the knowledge. OK, so we went back in to help them close because it was just decided to close the business on. I don't know. We're just I guess it's just our personalities. We spent a lot of years serving our clientele. So when we went back to help them close the business and we invited past customers to come in and say hello and goodbye and reminisce a little bit. So we had grandmothers coming in crying because the shop was closing and the granddaughter would not have gone from Cincinnatians. We had grandmothers coming in buying their granddaughter's gowns that were nowhere near graduating or getting married yet, but they were buying graduation gowns for them so that they would have a gown from fashions hanging in the closet, whether they wore it or not. So there was a lot of shared memories, a lot of people upset that family members, we've done their whole family for years, upset that we would no longer be there, that there was no longer going to be a very good service orientated place in order to get formal wear and whatnot and. So we decided to reopen. We have to change the name because it was racist fashions and it closed and there was mega advertising done for that. So we tossed around for a name and finally, we had like one hundred suggestions from our self and staff and family and friends. And finally, I said, look, we're getting nowhere with this. The thing is, I said we're reopening because our customers are clients throughout the years. We're so unforgettable. And I said and obviously, we're unforgettable to them. So we're going to be unforgettable. And that's what we are and that's what you are. So the name of the business is Unforgettable. Unforgettable, a division of the Fashions, Inc.
Dawn Fleming: [00:33:37] OK, OK. So, wow, what a great story. I didn't realize that was why you.
Deborah Sarah: [00:33:45] Are we crazy? Everybody thought we were crazy. We were both over sixty-five. We were both retired for many, many years. We definitely don't need the income from it.
Deborah Sarah: [00:33:57] And neither my husband nor I take very much money from the business. It goes to our staff so that there are a little better paid than average. And it goes to just upgrading things. In the renovations that we did to the store, we brought in some higher line things to meet the need of those that do have a larger budget. So that kind of thing. So we're really not taking very much money out of the building, out of the business itself. And now with covid, we're not taking any money out of it at all. We're just asking what revenue is coming and goes to overhead and staffing. So it's given us something to do. When we were here, we were still going away. After the first year, we couldn't because we had all new staff. None of the old staff remained. So we have to train staff. So the first year we didn't we only took two weeks vacation to our vacation home. The second-year we went for. A month or six weeks, something like that, we took a couple of trips down that year, two thousand and nineteen winters, twenty nineteen. We actually went for three and a half months and the November twenty nineteen to March of twenty, we had actually planned to be there for six months and got called home early because of covid. It was like get home while the border is still open and more flights are still available. So we came home. We, we actually now are looking back on the year. We should stay there. We were actually safer there than we were in Canada.
Dawn Fleming: [00:35:45] I know. Isn't that funny? Yeah. Well, obviously, you guys are passionate about the business or you wouldn't do it. And, you know, my philosophy, the soul did not come here to retire. So I think that whole thing's overrated anyway. We all need something to do right. To give us purpose and meaning. And the fact that they wouldn't let you close it is a wonderful reason and I think it's great. So you told me, like a lot of businesses in twenty did not have a good year at most. Retail establishments did not because people just weren't able to do that. And so you were just telling me about your plan to do what do you call them, virtual fitting, virtual appointments. So what we do know is when a bride to be or four bridesmaids, their mother is making appointments, brides to be, we send them out what we call our getting to know you form and ask them to fill it in and also send us a full picture of them so that we can determine body type. It helps us prepare for their actual in person. So we already know the basic information name, phone number, email, the date of the wedding, the venue, what their budget is, what styles, if they've shopped before, what styles we like, that kind of thing. So some basic information so that we can prepare for their actual visit to the store. We put gowns to show them that we think they're going to like so that we've done pretty much all along. Now with the virtual appointments, what we're doing is we're taking that, getting to know you. And we're going to be doing either zoom or we haven't done one yet. We did try early and covid and it didn't work out. Brides just weren't interested in it. But now that we're in lockdown again and now that this thing is dragging on, they're getting anxious because they want to get married as soon as they're able to this year because they postponed last year by special order. Gowns take eight to ten months and sometimes twelve months now with covid restrictions. And so the virtual we're going to take that basic information. We're going to set up gowns on mannequins to show them things that we think will look good on their body type and things that they've said they like if it's bling or lace or ball gowns or whatnot. And we'll do a virtual appointment with them. And then what we're going to try to do is if they are in our local area within a 30 mile or 30-minute driving range from the virtual appointment, there will be a slight charge which will go onto the cost of the price of the gown should they buy. But we'll pick three gowns that they've seen during the virtual and we'll actually going to take them to their home, pass them in and let them try them on. We'll do some little video showing how to do things up and we'll provide clips for them to clip them so that there's a good fit and we'll actually wait outside their home. We'll give them a three-hour time limit to try those three gowns on, which is more than enough in the boutique. And we have a two-hour appointment. So three hours is a lot of time to try three gowns. And should they decide to buy, the charge will be applied to the cost of the dress. And hopefully this way, not only will we be making sales, but the brides will have a chance to see the gowns actually on themselves and make their purchase so that when the restrictions lift, they'll be able to get married and they won't have to worry about shopping for gowns.
Dawn Fleming: [00:39:47] Yeah, I think that's fabulous. Did you get this idea from the industry? Are you.
Deborah Sarah: [00:39:55] Yeah, actually, one of the companies designers that we deal with, they. We did a webinar suggesting virtual appointments and how to do them. A lot of critics in the United States did it back in March and April. They were very successful with it. Now, the American market is very different than the Canadian market. And we're in northern Ontario, which is a whole different ballgame from cell phone to southern Ontario. I said sometimes I wish we had moved to Toronto back before we got married. Would it be a whole lot easier in this type of business? So our markets are really different. Brides didn't want to do it back then. We had no, but now we just started offering it again. I think the first post went up on what's today? Today's Monday. Today's Tuesday, today's Monday. I don't even know what they do. Every day is a Monday right now. So the first post went up Monday night. Sunday night, sorry, not Saturday night. The first online covid clearance gown's pictures went up last night. And we're already getting feedback. I've already booked two virtual appointments. I have the third one. I'm just waiting to hear back when she wants to do it. And the covid clearance gowns that have been posted online are being shared by a lot of people. So I think now our market is ready because they realize this thing isn't making it easy for them if they want to get married this year. Right. Right now, I think it's fabulous. I mean, we got to be creative and nimble and responsive. Right. And especially, like you were saying, the gowns start to stack up with season upon season. And as time goes by and finding when the first shutdown hit back in March, in March and April, we receive two hundred bridal gowns. I'm not counting mothers and bridesmaids. Two hundred bridal gowns for our spring season, which of course didn't happen because we were closed for three months. Then in September, we started getting our fall gowns, and now keeping in mind we order six to nine months in advance. So six to nine months in advance, you don't know what's happening. So in September, granted, we did pare back our fall by a little bit, but not much, because most of our fall by was done in March, before the shutdown happened, before things blew up. So we probably had another hundred and fifty gowns come in in September and now December and January. And again, because of just the way the situation is, we have around one hundred gowns coming in now because of the shutdowns, because of brides postponing, and whatnot. Very few of those gowns were sold. Plus we probably had we usually stop anywhere depending on the time of year. We have anywhere from two hundred and fifty to four hundred gowns in the store, in the store. So right now we'll be doing inventory next week. But I have at least six hundred gowns in the store that are all from the last two seasons and the new season which nobody's been able to buy. Right, right.
Dawn Fleming: [00:43:46] Well, the good news for your clients is there's a big selection, and they're going to get some really good prices everybody loves.
Deborah Sarah: [00:43:57] But we always have good prices because we don't price the standard industry markup. We realize that we're in northern Ontario. We realize that incomes here are not quite as high as they are in the larger centers. So we price enough to keep basically our whole business has been we priced to keep us in business, give us a little bit of reserve, so for capital expenditures and whatnot, and pay our staff a decent wage. So we're not everybody says so you've got a small business. You must be nice. You're rich. Well, no, we're not rich. And we're never going to be rich with the business model that we follow. But we live comfortably. We've saved, we've invested, we've taken educated risks, I guess you could say. And we're happy with the life that we have. We don't want to be rich. We have everything we need.
Dawn Fleming: [00:44:59] You know, there are different definitions of rich. And I would say that in some. You are very rich with the likely.
Deborah Sarah: [00:45:07] We are to us, money isn't everything, it's family, it's enjoying each other, it's enjoying life. It's getting together with friends and family. It's the ability to travel and see different places, learn about different cultures, meet different people, learn different languages. Hey, I'm an English only is my first language. I'm proficient enough now in Italian and Spanish. I'm not fluent by any means, but I don't worry when I'm in Italy and I don't worry when I'm in a Spanish speaking country, which we've been to many because I can get along, I can get anything that's necessary. And even in a medical environment, which we have encountered in our travels, I'm OK. I can I can manage. Yeah. And that's what's important. That's what makes us rich.
Dawn Fleming: [00:45:59] Yes, absolutely. Well, this has been just a wonderful interview and I just appreciate you taking the time so much. And I know we'll all get through this and have a great twenty, twenty one that may be later in the year, but I think things will turn around. And this experience that we've all been through, I think will provide us with lots of lessons, some of which we may not know at this point is what they are. But I know I know your future will be bright as well with the attitude that you have and your philosophy about how you work with people is just pretty cool.
Deborah Sarah: [00:46:45] Well, I'll leave you with two things that have made a world of difference in our lives and in our future life. It will also make a difference. Stay safe, stay well and keep planning and remember, it's not what you make, it's what you don't spend.
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