This is a free write with no intentions of anything other then presenting my thoughts on potentially opening a storefront for my comic and toy business. It's more going to act as a way for me to get some thoughts out then anything...but I'd still love feedback.
So I've been tossing around the idea of opening a physical store location for some time now. There are pros and cons to doing this. Obviously the overhead is a huge issue as are the hours I will be stuck working the store until there is cash flow to pay employees to cover some of the hours. But it will be nice to have a spot for me to have a large part of my inventory out on display. I've built up a good following at local shows and many regulars have been encouraging me to open a store so they can buy more from me.
Today I went to visit a new toy shop about 40 minutes away from me. The person who opened it is someone I know from all of the shows we do. He is business minded and one of the few people at any show who will do well even with weak crowds. Him and I focus on different inventory so it's easy to share ideas without risk of competing with each other and it's very helpful.
While in his shop I saw exactly what I'm looking forward to having happen if I open a store. People were coming in and buying items that there is no way he would haul out to a show. No matter what you bring to a show people always ask for what you have at home...it's maddening. But space is limited at a show as is set up time. So maybe I'll have 5-10% of my inventory at a show on a given weekend and the rest is sitting idle with zero chance of making me money...worse the rest of the week it's all sitting there boxed up not making me money.
Now the downside of running a store was also seen today. While I was out having a good time with my Wife and Oldest Daughter he was stuck sitting at the store. His life is the store at this point. Open from 10-7, 6 days a week which means there from 9:30-7:30 if not longer.
Well on the way home I decided to drive by a location I thought was interesting and my Wife said "no way" to. Wanted to see if she was right or not about it and really glad we did. I figured out which unit it was and went in and talked with the current tenant. They were amazing and spent 45 minutes talking with me about the unit, the ownership, and a couple other locations I was looking at as they had been in one of them previously and looked at the other before picking this location.
It was pretty amazing getting to meet this couple and hear about how when they moved to this location the concerns they had (same as my Wife's) about it not being on a main road. But how moving from a main road to this one ended up proving to be a huge boost to their business. They had more walk in traffic in 2 months then the previous 5 years...absolutely mind blowing. This concern was a huge deal for us as walk in customers are a bonus on top of your normal marketing efforts which helps for profitability.
So glad I decided to walk into that store today and start up a conversation. Also glad that my Daughter got to see how it all unfolded as I feel it's an important life lesson to learn...how to talk with a complete stranger. By the time I left the store I had the cell phone numbers of the owners and their employee who was there as she has some comics to sell me...information and a lead just for walking into a store and striking up a conversation.
Been running numbers, reviewing wholesale contracts, and just trying to wrap my head around if I'm ready to take the leap. It's a serious financial risk and massive time commitment...but it also has the potential long term to be very rewarding.
This feels like one of those moments in my life where making the right decision is very important...just not sure yet which decision is the correct one.