When I sold All Things Jeep back in 2010 after my husband and co-founder of the business passed away, it never occurred to me that I’d be back sitting in a chair in the ATJ office working in the business again. Ok, to tell you the truth, it did occur to me that it might happen. But when the new owner moved the core portion of the business out to the west coast, I dropped that thought and pondered my next career move outside of the Jeep world.
Since then, I’ve worked a bit, raised teens, and sold most of our Jeeps and become more “practical” in my car choice. (Insert frown face here.) I’m embarrassed to say that one day I sold my 2007 4 door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and purchased a used Honda CRV (that didn’t have a “death wobble”) for my kids to drive. (My coolness factor plummeted at least 50% that day.) And during this time I've also stayed in touch with the folks at ATJ.
A few months ago I started hearing the rumblings of some potential news that the ATJ warehouse might be moving back to the east coast. Turns out the rumors are true. It’s exciting to grow a small business from scratch and watch it blossom into a thriving business. It’s like a baby. In fact, All Things Jeep WAS our other baby. It started out helpless and needing all of our energy. We grew it out of diapers, through the toddler years (we launched Go Topless Day ™ then,) and into its adolescent years. Through the passion and dedication of the ATJ team, the new (and current) owner, and the enthusiasm of our amazing customers, I think of All Things Jeep as a full fledged successful “grown-up” business now. It’s been heartwarming to see. I know that my husband, Norman, would be so incredibly proud of what we created and how the customers and employees alike have kept it going. The business is exactly what he wanted it to be, and I wish he was here to see it. (Actually, if he was, he’d still be running it so he’d be here every day.)
Well, the title of this blog post is “Ah crap, I thought I wouldn’t cry about Jeeps again” and here’s why I said that. Recently, I was asked if I’d be interested in coming back to ATJ part time to help out with a few things. I said “yes”. And I thought about what it would be like to walk back into an office just miles away from my home, where Norman and I started the business 13 years ago. I knew it was going to be sentimental. It was like a child that had grown up and gone off on their own, coming home. But, I’ve been a bit removed from ATJ over the last few years, and I didn’t think it would feel as personal as it once would have. I thought I wouldn’t cry or anything, coming back “home”. But I was wrong. I walked into All Things Jeep again, and my eyes welled up with tears. There are lots of new faces here. And LOTS of new products. And lots of space. But as I walk through the warehouse, I see some of the same products we launched with 13 years ago (the Jeep cookie cutters, the Built In Run It Break It Fix It Repeat T-shirts, the Life is Good Native Jeep Hat). My heart got all warm and gooey. Yes, this is a sentimental post. However, our customers were my friends and my family. The Jeep community is close-knit and connected. All Things Jeep has always been more than just a company, it’s been a way for Jeep fans to stay connected with their community, to keep the Jeep passion alive. So I cried some sentimental tears. And now I’ll get to work!
(The first day I walked into the warehouse. Items were just being loaded onto the shelves. Want to see photos of what it looks like now?)