Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Secrets of a Shop Owner

What do The Urban Market, Lillians, Moon Goon, The Shop Around the Corner, and Real Deals all have in common?

First, in my biased opinion, they are all shops owned by driven, creative, retail savvy women who have a desire to own their own businesses and share their visions with others.

The other commonality is that they are all Occassional Shops. A what? Yes, let's talk about it.

An occassional shop is literally, just that. A store that is open occassionally. It's not as simple as that since most occassional shops have dedicated hours and days that they are open for business. So maybe we should rename them, "open on the first weekend of the month and random special events throughout the year" shops. Since that is a mouthful, we'll stick with what we have.

I'm fortunate that those of us in this little town who own these curiosity shops, work together to promote, grow, and bounce ideas off of each other. Since I can't speak for them, the rest of the secrets are strictly from my point of view.....

If you shop at any of these stores or have them where you live, you've probably been either frustrated or curious at how and why we do things. I'll clue you in-I'll share.

1.) Why aren't you open all the time? I want to shop at your store but you're always closed when I'm in town.

I have a full-time job in addition to running the Urban Market. The "occassional shop" business model works with my life. It gives me the stability and benefits of a full-time job but allows me to pursue a dream without giving up the security of a guaranteed paycheck. The "occassional model" is traditionally a store that changes each month. The inventory changes, the aesthetic changes, it's all about being fresh and new. To completely change a shop (and find the time to sleep, eat, and have a life) into something new each month is impossible to do when open every day.

The newness is the best part. Each month, the store morphs itself into something it wasn't or didn't have the month prior. It's exciting for you as a shopper and really for me,as a business owner, to completely recreate myself each month. There are stores open every day that you know what they have, who they are, and what they offer. At our stores, you need to get there early, get there often because you just never know what we'll have. We serve a different purpose than an everyday shop. You know it's always new, its always there for a short period of time, and it's always something different. Diversity makes the world go round, right?

2.) How can you make money being open just a few days a month?
Well, retail in general is probably not a business you would select if you wanted to be rich. Especially with the economy the way it is today. So although not striking it rich, the shop is able to sustain itself. I may be only open to the public a few days a month but what you don't see behind the scenes is that I am peddling my wares elsewhere, hosting events, negotiating prices and margins, finding artists who will consign with the Urban Market and a whole lot of etc. to create revenue lost by only being open a few days a month. I'm still new so I'm learning everyday how to manage this but it can be done.

Think of it this way--How many times do you go to Target in a month? Let's say you go 3 times and each time you spend $50. It's $50 each time, but for the month you have spent $150. What if Target were only open once a month? You would probably stock up and spend $150 in one day to get everything you needed because you knew you couldn't go again until the next month.

It's not for everyone and for some, it just doesn't make sense. For others, it's entertainment, the thrill of the hunt, the unique nature of the items we carry. I love the change, my customers who pop in monthly, the idea that I can have my cake and eat it too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees

Book Junkie, yes. 50% of personal purchases are made on some type of reading material. I select by title, by cover art, by flipping through the first chapter and reading a bit, by the "summary" on the back cover.

I've picked up "The Secret Life of Bees" a few times and have always placed it back and selected a different book.

I was thrifting the other day and came across the book again. Ok, yes.

I know a book is good for me when I want to reread it again, with a highlighter.

I won't spoil it but it left me obsessed in some strange way with Mary. The Mother of God-Mary.

This quote from the book sums it up better:

"When you're unsure of yourself...when you start pulling back into doubt and small living, she's the one inside saying, 'Get up from there and live like the glorious girl you are.' She's the power inside you, you understand? And whatever it is that keeps widening your heart, that's Mary, too, not only the power inside you but the love. And when you get down to it, Lily, that's the only purpose grand enough for a human life. Not just to love--but to PERSIST in love." (August Boatwright, p. 289)

(I'm adding this book to my "church's" required reading list..that particular discussion was way back here..)

I struggle with my own internal power and using it. Big on anything that motivates that power to move outward.

A customer stopped in the shop last week to chat and she had this (or something like it)on. I wanted one in the worst way. I told her my latest obsession and even borrowed her my thrifted copy of the book.

Well, the bracelets, I found. Math was never a strong thing for me, I only wanted 12. I got 12 dozen. I'm going to chalk this up as something other than an addition error.

Guess where they'll be? At the shop, for sale. Ready to remind you..ahem, it's in there.
Leave me a comment, and I'll randomly select one and send them their very own Mary bracelet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lookie Here...

Lookie who's little shop made the local paper?

My little elves (a.k.a Stacie and Debbie) and I also got our photos in the "Friday Fun Facts" newsletter for the Chamber of Commerce.

We had a great day--thanks to everyone who visited, shopped, supported, wore your boa, and helped make it a fantastic Saturday! (I'm still finding feathers around the shop.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Goodies and Emily

A beautiful day today, a "make you thankful that you are alive" kind of day. Maybe it was the extra hour of sleep?

I spent most of the weekend reorganizing the shop getting ready for this weekend. New goodies need new spaces. All went surprisingly well until the moment I went to enter all the new inventory in my computer--dead.

Wouldn't even turn on-not a circumstance a new business wants to be in. I'm crossing all 5 fingers that this can be fixed without the loss of any data AND without forking over a ton of money. Say a little prayer to the technology gods for me....

When I buy for the shop I envision how products can be put together to make a great gift. Sometimes, we could all use a little help doing this.

So, I fabricated my vision and created these. These "sets" are specially priced versus buying what is in them individually.
(Psstt....they are in limited quantities.)

The Powder Room Set contains 2 "ruffled" hand towels, a bar of "glittered beyond gorgeous" TokyoMilk soap, and a "chippy" (we love vintage) white cast iron soap holder. Seperately these retail for $25.50, the set....$20.00. (I don't need to mention they are all "tied up with string" ala Urban Maket style, do I?) A housewarming gift, a thank you gift, a teacher gift, a just because you love glitter and pretty soap gift.

The Office Chic Set---Working might not be that fun sometimes, but the supplies you use don't have to be ugly, do they? This set includes 8 designer files folders-Paris style, a legal pad that is anything but yellow, a pack of matching post-its (again, not yellow), and 2 Japanese gel pens. The pictures are bad, but you get the drift. A gift for a co-worker, your siser who just landed a new job, or a girlfriend who just opened up her new shop. Ooh, what about a teacher gift? They deserve "chic" for all that they do.

The London goodies finally made it here--I was thrilled with all of it. This DIY Felt Doll kit will be at the shop and online shortly. All the supplies, directions, etc for you to create her. Of course, I need to be able to know how it works and a "shop sample" so I gave her a whirl.

Miss Emily (that's really her name) is done. I switched out her star beads for ribbon, but pretty easy as long as you line up the holes correctly (they are pre-punched in all the felt pieces.) What a great gift for the "crafties" in your life.

Along with Emily and her sister, there was also a load of "pretty paper." Started this art project for the walls of the Urban Market using the pretty paper that we sell as the background. A few more in the works, but I'll share the wall when it's done.

You can get the "heads" here if you'd like to try your own.

There you have it for today. Thanks to whomever invented this daylight savings thing--It's pre10:00 p.m. and I'm done posting. Do wonders ever cease?