This week we are officially celebrating five years of Grasshopper Goods, a feat that I could not have imagined when the idea first came to me. It’s been such an incredible journey, and I truly believe that it has only just begun. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that we can weather a storm and that our community will cheer us on no matter which pivots we need to make.
Your support is a beautiful thing. To our customers old and new, and the members of our community here in Stoughton and the Madison area, we want to say thank you.
Then and Now
This anniversary celebration has us feeling a little reflective, thinking back over the past five years to examine the twists and turns, the split second decisions and the long term plans that have paved the way to where we are now. I figured I would break down a few of the highlights of our story for those of you who may be newer to the Grasshopper Goods family. The context surrounding the creation of Grasshopper Goods can explain our mission and vision for the shop, and the way we approach and interpret the world as it is.
Over five years ago, I knew I wanted something more.
I’ve spent my entire career in education, first as a teacher, and now as a professor, but have always craved a creative outlet, something that would allow me to connect on a deeper level with my community and the right side of my brain.
I was interested in retail, particularly in finding a way to bring a boutique experience to individuals not only through a brick and mortar application, but potentially in a unique and innovative way - through a mobile boutique.
The idea lingered in my mind for some time, and I would find myself doing research in my downtime, brainstorming names and branding, but never really putting my foot to the gas so to speak.
On a trip to the Caribbean with my family, that dream was still nagging at me in the back of my mind. When we got into a cab on the way to our accommodations, a grasshopper jumped onto the windshield and miraculously held on throughout the ride. He hopped off when we reached our destination, and the cab driver made a comment that the moment bode well, as grasshoppers signify good luck, great beginnings, and good fortune.
I’m a big believer in signs from the universe.
I mulled the idea for my mobile boutique over in my mind throughout the trip, feeling that I was on the cusp of jumping into the deep end of my dreams. I just needed one more push to kick into gear.
As we packed up to head back to the airport, another grasshopper showed up on our doorstep and it felt like fate. I knew that this was an indication that it was time for me to take the leap and start my mobile boutique.
Building Grasshopper Goods
Inevitably, my idea became known as Grasshopper Goods. I wanted to celebrate the iconography of the grasshopper, as it was the catalyst toward working toward this dream I’d been leaving on the backburner.
When I was ready, my brother and I purchased a ‘57 Chevy school bus from Wyoming, and this became our first truck. When we opened the doors to begin our renovation, a grasshopper met us inside. Again, fate was on our side.
After moving on to a new truck that fit the concept better (our current ‘77 Chevy step van, Vinny!), we hit the road as Wisconsin’s first mobile boutique, filling our shelves with goods from small makers around the country, and even some local small businesses. We’re so proud to have a diverse collection of offerings created by a diverse collection of entrepreneurs. This is what it’s all about.
In a flash of what we can now only see as kismet, we decided to open a brick and mortar shop for Grasshopper Goods in November 2019, putting down roots in the lovely city of Stoughton. The brick and mortar shop has been an incredible asset to us throughout 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing us to continue offering locally-made goods while maintaining social-distancing and hygiene guidelines. Though the truck didn’t put on many miles in the past year, we were still able to see so many familiar faces in a safe way this year.
Where to Next?
I started this story as an educator, not an entrepreneur, and I believe that has made an enormous impact on our success as a shop and as a community. As a small business, we’re focused on inclusivity, highlighting diversity, and encouraging the growth of the local economy through shopping small. I’ve taken so many of the things that I’ve learned as an educator and applied them to the Grasshopper Goods ethos - we’re continually working to create a collaborative community through supporting independent artists and makers and by paying it forward whenever we can.
Five years in, I could not be any prouder of the progress we’ve made toward that mission. We’ve pivoted in times of change, and have done our best to continue to support our local community through it all. New customers and old customers can easily connect to our vision, seeing the threads that intertwine between my love of education (even offering a discount for teachers!), and my love of community-building to create Grasshopper Goods.
The next five years will undoubtedly hold more challenges, but also more opportunities. We are so thankful for your support through every obstacle and every success, and will continue to strive to achieve our vision. Here’s to the next 5 years and many more after that!