The beginning


Astoria sign close up

Hello! Welcome to the blog.
We are The Astoria Company Store.
My name is Timmy and I am a soap maker….that may have sounded like an introduction meant for a support group. Hi I’m Timmy and I can’t stop making soap…:
When I was a little kid I experimented with the occasional use of profanity, a skill that I have perfected over the years. My childhood dabbling May or may not have ended in a brief encounter with a bar of Lava soap. An encounter that I will never forget. For those of you with the good fortune to never meet a bar of Lava, let me enlighten you. It is gritty as #^€};/: and tastes like #^}%{%:)/( !!
When people ask me why I started making soap, this is the story I tell. If you were to ask a psychiatrist I’m sure they would tell you that’s probably why a lot of our soap smells good enough to eat. The truth about my soap making is that I do it because it’s creative and fun and challenging, it lets me work with people who I love and when you get to work with people who you love, everyday is an adventure. Without trying to sound sappy, that’s the truth of it. It’s hard work but it feels like play to me. Don’t let me lead you to believe it’s all smooth sailing….but for me, the joy out weighs the struggle and life is always better when the scale tips towards happiness, don’t you think?
Still there? Oh good, we’ll here is more about me, I am a partner in a little shop called The Astoria Company Store. Our shop is in an adorable old house tucked into the small town of Sullivan nestled safely into the corn and bean fields of central Illinois… So quaint..but before you get all Little House on the Prairie on me lets just stop imagining women in bonnets and calico dresses stirring kettles in pastures brimming with wild flowers. It’s more like me and the guys bent over the stove at three in the morning trying to perfect our latest recipe while hopped up on red bull and trying not to kill each other. Ok it is a little more of a romantic vision than that, I was just being dramatic. I have never consumed red bull while making soap.
Our decision to open the shop was a little bit of well thought out spontaneity. I know those two ideas never exist together in the real world but hang out with me long enough and you will see a whole lot of things that you didn’t think existed.
We decided to open the shop for two reasons. 1. We have been making soap and lotions for years and people kept asking us for more of it, so we must be doing something right. 2. We thought it would be fun. Of course we put a lot of thought into the second reason. I mean who doesn’t want to work with handsome men, make fun stuff and be your own boss? Really it was a no brainer.
The time between deciding to create a retail store and opening that store was a very long three weeks. Yup you heard me. About three weeks, it could have been less than that but thinking about all of the work that happened in such a short amount of time would make me short-circuit… So let’s call it a solid three weeks, give or take a day or two.
In those three weeks we closed the charming little Inn that I was running in the house. Pulled out all of the furnishings picked and applied new paint to everything. We started remodeling the entire second floor of the house as our new apartment. We built from scratch or repurposed all of the new store fixtures and furniture. Built up a stock of product, cooked, bottled, wrapped and labeled hundreds of items…. Oh god I’m going to faint just thinking about it. You get the picture, long nights, longer days and lots of laughing. A little bit of crying but that was mostly from lack of sleep.
We pushed to have the store open the weekend after Thanksgiving 2013 and we did it! We made it. Doors open shelves full and people love it! Was it worth every bump and scrape and mood swing to get there?? Sure. It’s freakin amazing!!
So that’s the beginning. In a nut shell. The moral of my little story? What have I learned from this adventure so far? Ignore reason. When in doubt bulldoze ahead. When you have an idea and the sensible people in your life start speaking to you in soft concerned voices offering advice that involves ” taking time to think things over”. and asking questions like ” are you eating lots of sugar?” Then you know you’re on to something good. So go full steam ahead.


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