Time for a different journey

Richard Charpentier Arizona, Notes from Rich, Prescott 10 Comments

Well, this is the post I’ve been pondering for months.  It’s the one where I tell everyone that while we’ve had a good run it’s time to let some things go.

November 28th of 2012 will be the last day I’ll be running R.L. Charpentier Photography.  It’s time to accept that my business is flat lined and to make the call.  Not all small businesses make it generally.  And in this economy and this location mine is one of the many casualties.

Before landing in Prescott I was in Borrego Springs, CA. Met with some Airstream friends, and then went off to discover my new home.

4 years in business

I landed in Prescott March 13th of 2007.  With an weird illness dominating my life, having gone through a heart breaking divorce, I traveled the country with my Airstream looking for a new place to call home.  And strangely enough I stumbled through Prescott due to a GPS mis-route.  I immediately fell in love with the area, especially the Granite Dells, and I decided to stay.

After a few months job hunting I found that things wouldn’t be easy if I wanted to remain.  “Overqualified.”  I heard that a lot.  So I took what I could get for a while until I started showing my photography with Ian in his small gallery location.  Months later we’d teamed up, got a bigger location, and I started into print reproduction for artists from all over.  That was October of 2008.  Now I’m here in November of 2012 preparing to pack it all up and move along.

Reviewing the books regularly, taking marketing classes, and working both at home and in the office I’ve really struggled to grow the business.  I’ve always had great respect for small business owners, but until you try it yourself you have no idea of how much of a person goes into building their business.  And how hard it is to acknowledge when it’s time to pack it in.  Fortunately a few things happened recently that told me it was time to wrap it up.

Heading out

November 30th I’ll be leaving Arizona.  An old friend got in touch recently with a job opportunity for me.  Back into the corporate life once again.  Steady checks, defined roles, a much easier life than a small business owner’s.  Once again the Airstream will hit the road to take me to a new location to restart once more.

My friend’s call was sign number one.  A job opportunity.  A chance to get out of small business debt and actually make a living again.  As my birthday approaches (41) I find myself lacking the savings I used to have, no paid for house, etc.  I think it hits us all at some point, retirement age is getting closer every day.  You’ve got to be realistic about these things, and that’s exactly what I’m being.

After receiving the job offer I struggled with what to do.  I’ve sunk a lot into the business, and I also believe I’m pretty darned good at it.  So this past weekend I found myself on the fence.  And Saturday afternoon while I grappled with the pros and cons, I received a call from a client who helped put things in perspective.

The client, not one of my most steady regulars, called about imaging one of their original paintings.  She’d painted it years ago, and sold it without ever imaging it.  The piece was extremely important to her, and the person who purchased it did not let her have access to it.  Fortunately the buyer returned to visit Prescott and brought it with them to let her get it imaged.  My client was very excited to have the opportunity to image it for reproductions down the road, as it was one of her favorites.  She spent a long time telling me the tale, and when it was over  I suggested we could image it Monday.  She was happy to hear it.  And then I told her my standard price for doing the imaging, color match, and proofing.  When I finished (she’s known my prices for a long time) I heard…….

Well, that’s way more than I was hoping to spend.

That was the straw that ended my grappling with what to do.  Go somewhere your work is valued and compensated, or remain in my business having to justify my pricing every day.  And go figure, right after all of that a friend sent me the best video ever about the vendor client relationship.  It’s driven it home for me.  Time to let go, take the loss, and move forward.

The Fire Sale!!!

The Ian Russell Gallery will continue, but it will continue without me.  I have to get on the road in just a few weeks.  And I need to get some additional funds for the move, fuel, etc.  So I’ll be wheeling and dealing on my remaining canvases at the shop.  I know going out of business sales seem to attract more people in than staying in business sales do, so this is it folks.  From now through November 28th my canvas and prints that are on hand are on sale.  Come see me and I’m sure we can find you a bargain on something.  🙂


Comments 10

  1. Rich, sorry to hear about your decision. These are certainly challenging times Please stay in touch wherever you land.


  2. SO, SO SAD, Rich! But customers can be ruthless, this I know. On the other hand, I envy you moving on. I’m still straddling my fence regarding this (you and I talked about it on the square one day), and I wish I had more time to pick your knowledgeable brain about RV’ing. Good luck with your new beginning!

  3. Been along for the ride from the beginning… way before you landed in Prescott… and I’m sorry you must leave. It seems like such a good fit for you, and I never, ever get tired of looking at your photos of the Dells, nor any of the other so cool places you seem to find.

    Take what you learned the hard way… and the friendships made to your next destination. No one can take that away from you.
    Box Canyon Mark… Lost in Zion National Park

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    Prescott is a nice place, but making a living here for most is not really in the cards. The town has built up on CA retirement money, there are mostly low end retail / hospitality jobs, and that’s about the market in a nutshell.

    The bars seem to do okay, and the large concentration of rehab centers indicate they’re in demand as well…….

  5. So sad to hear your decision. You are lucky that you have a job, and I don’t blame you for taking it. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. I have a friend who has been looking for a full time job for 4 years. He hear’s the “overqualified” word almost daily. The sad thing, there is no change in sight.

  6. I hear ya Rich – the video from your prior post says it all – people want something for nothing. While I am always looking to save money myself, I can also recognize quality, and as you and I have both said countless times:

    You get what you pay for.

    If the Prescott market doesn’t support it, then you made the right decision. Just promise me you will never stop shooting!Stay in touch mon frere!

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  8. I wish you the best in your new endeavor. I’ve lived in Prescott for 13 years earning a below market salary, but to me that beats living in Phoenix or Los Angeles.

  9. You have truly come a long way my Friend and will do well pursuing your new adventure. Your decision to accept the job is a wise one. You are so lucky have have this opportunity. Your artistic talents and skills will be assets that can be incorporated into a more fulfilling, and rewarding job.

    Iron Boar, I wish you safe traveling, fun, success, most excellent health, prosperity, and above all happiness.

    Happy “Forty-wonderful” Birthday,

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