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.

1 comment:

LocustSt said...

Thank you for that! I would love love love to open an "occasional" shop and there's a great storefront for rent right now but find the process of starting a little daunting since I'm completely new to this world and don't have any money to invest.