Ripon’s Back Porch Gatherings owner, Tammy Gutierrez talks about her business.
How long have you been in business?
I have been in business, continually, since 1987. I started out buying and selling at flea markets, learning as I went. I eventually started renting spaces at antique malls, building up a customer base. Then, in 1998, opened my first brick and mortar.
How did you get started?
I actually started loving old things as a child. My mother and grandmother would clean out closets and drawers, and try to get rid of things they didn’t want. Well, I wanted anything old! Thats what started this whole thing! I had collections of sea shells my grandfathers collected while they were in the war. I looked at them everyday. I loved natural things for their beauty. I loved old items for the history I saw in them. New things didn’t appeal to me.
What changes have you seen over the years open?
In this business, there is constant change. Trends in home decor change so often. The one thing that remains constant, to me, is that people love well made things. You get that from antiques and vintage items. Ironstone dishes that last 200 years. Furniture with dovetails so drawers don’t fall apart with use. Quality never goes out of style. I love that.
What do you most Love about your Industry?
I love making people happy with their found treasures! In our store. We rarely have two of anything! We have unique, one of a kind or antique pieces that no one else has. When someone loves their purchases, it makes my day.
What are some of the common myths you come across in your business?
One common myth I hear from new customers is that they thought antiques couldn’t be cool. After coming through our shop, we hear “cool shop” over and over. We make old new again. Every home can use a great piece of well made furniture with the perfect patina. It will ground your room and make it alive!
What message would you most like to share with people?
I would love for people to know that our shop is different every time they visit. We add new old merchandise daily and we are always striving to make your visit an experience.
What would you like people to know about your business?
I would love for people to know that we are a family run business and strive for an excellent customer experience.
What is the biggest compliment customers give you?
The biggest compliment I have heard from customers is that they are surprised we are in a small town. We have heard we would do so well in Chicago or Nashville. We are proud to be a part of a charming, peaceful small town.
What are you most proud of?
Our team consists of myself and my oldest son, Dan, full time. My daughter, Alexis, and my youngest son, Ernie Jr. (Cowboy) for winewalks, events and deliveries. My husband, Ernie, is our Scrooge for Dickens of a Christmas in December. My two cousins work various days and my adorable mom is a picker! Definitely a family run business.
What are you most grateful for?
I am most grateful for my customers. Many have become friends now. Some have been with me since the 90’s. They supported our us during covid and I cannot say enough about the relationships we have with them. You’ll hear laughter, very often, in our shop!
Who/what can you credit your success? Honestly, I credit my supportive family for my success. You know, we all have a dream. Mine was to have a home décor store. but they supported me. My father built my checkout counter and a work bench for me to do dried flower arrangements and wreaths. My mom painted furniture and was first in line at every estate sale. My son Dan told me we could go big, opening a 2,800-square-foot store, when I was unsure. Without the support of my family, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am so grateful to them all.
Back Porch Gatherings
217 Watson Street, Ripon WI, 54971
This article is from the EY July 2022 Issue