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Average small store size and cost? And do you feel B&B or variety store?


MissMary
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K, utilities, hardware, etc. aside - what could one expect to pay for a small to average sized storefront in a small and new strip mall for rent alone?

The prices are swinging so wildly that I'd like to get a baseline. The traffic runs roughly the same for all the places I checked out (this is not for reference of next month of course, but I'm doing research). The sizing is close to the same (give or take 50-100 feet).

ETA: And what would be a good trial period for a storefront? 6 months, a year, two years to see if that location is working? I know success won't happen overnight of course.

Also, given what I've seen some chandlers/B&B artists here say, given the current economy, would you consider the straight handmade home made by you theme or possibly a variety store that would offer other handmade things, but not by you?

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What you will pay will vary greatly dependent upon your area. I'm sure what I pay for my shop which is about 2500 sq. feet, won't be anywhere near what you would pay for the price. It could be more, it could be less. It is all based on location and market. You have to figure it out based on what you can afford.

As far as how long it takes to build your business, I've read that a person that passes a business daily, it will take that person on average 3 years to finally stop into that business. Getting a store front going takes so much money. You have your rent, utilities, if you accept credit cards, you will have that fee, telephone, internet, etc. Then you must advertise. That is expensive alone but is a must to get your name out there. And you have to advertise on a regular basis to allow those potential customers the chance to see/hear your ad multiple times because that is what it takes to finally get their attention, and to remember you and want to come in.

Doing shows helps get your business name out there too and get you some name recognition. But that will also take you a few years for people to remember you and what shows you do.

ETA - I have offered a variety of other crafter's items in my store before and I've never sold anything for them. Only my stuff sells. At certain holidays, I do align with another gal and we do certain gift baskets with her stuff (candy bouquet) and my stuff (candles and B&B). That works well but only when we do it for holidays. Mothers Day is the best one for us.

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Honestly, no one here will be able to give you accurate prices. They probably won't even be able to get close. With the fluctuation of real estate prices from place to place, its just impossible to tell.

As far as what to carry. I honestly feel that you should carry other things than just your handmade B&B. Depending on the way you market your items you could do something hip and trendy. I would say gift items would be a good thing to do.....t shirts, purses, jewelry.

Maybe that helps.

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I was hoping for a ballpark based on middle class area. I do understand it can fluctuate, but there are some locations saying 940sq. ft, for only $500 a month when the same type of shop, same size down the road is asking $2000.

Both of you have made excellent posts and some things for me to think on, I appreciate the input greatly. I truly do.

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I don't think anyone can even give you a ballpark figure unless they live in your area. If you can find a place with 940sq. ft, for only $500 a month while the same type of shop, same size down the road is asking $2000, there is a reason for that. More than likely its location. Location is everything when renting a store front. Unless you have the time, money and patience to make a shop work in a horrible location. Any shop will take time, money and patience to get going, but if the location is terrible, you will have to work that much harder.

Another consideration when looking for a shop is parking and accessibility in and out of the parking area.

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I don't think anyone can even give you a ballpark figure unless they live in your area. If you can find a place with 940sq. ft, for only $500 a month while the same type of shop, same size down the road is asking $2000, there is a reason for that. More than likely its location. Location is everything when renting a store front. Unless you have the time, money and patience to make a shop work in a horrible location. Any shop will take time, money and patience to get going, but if the location is terrible, you will have to work that much harder.

Another consideration when looking for a shop is parking and accessibility in and out of the parking area.

Definitely consider parking. Here is a prime example of what can happen. Two years ago we got a Super Walmart. Its the largest one for one hour around us . Of course more stores followed. Well, right at the corner of the Walmart intersection someone slapped up a BP. It did magnificent, that is, until they put up stop lights and turned that area into 6 lanes. Now, you can get in to the BP but never get out so...no one even goes there. Just something to consider.

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I don't think anyone can even give you a ballpark figure unless they live in your area. If you can find a place with 940sq. ft, for only $500 a month while the same type of shop, same size down the road is asking $2000, there is a reason for that. More than likely its location. Location is everything when renting a store front. Unless you have the time, money and patience to make a shop work in a horrible location. Any shop will take time, money and patience to get going, but if the location is terrible, you will have to work that much harder.

Another consideration when looking for a shop is parking and accessibility in and out of the parking area.

Bingo. I looked at the pics again after this post - one has a few spaces in front of each store and a single row outside of that before the major street. The other has a "full service" parking lot, with other stand alones there too. Almost carbon copy until you mentioned that.

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There is so much to consider when opening your own shop. There is more over-head than what you might even be thinking about. To get your shop open, you have to think about store fixtures? What will you use to display your products? Do you need table cloths? If so, be prepared to have many so you can change them out. Do you have bags for putting a customer's purchase in? Shopping carts or something for customers to put their items in while shopping? Cash register? Window treatments? Insurance not just for your products, but for the store as well? You might need to revisit this with your insurance agent.

When looking at location, you must also not only consider visibility, parking and accessibility, but what's the crime like in that area? Higher crime areas, some customer may be reluctant to shop there. What types of shops are around you? i.e.., Great location, great accessibility and parking, but the neighbors are a porn shop and maybe a liquor store, etc. Do you want your business next to a business like that? The flip side of that is, if it is not a separate, stand alone shop, do the current tenants of the building want a shop like yours in their building? Will they be O.K. with the aroma your shop will produce that will waft into their shop? This can be a problem and can cause a fight between tenants.

Is the building handicap accessible? Is the shop area big enough for a person in a wheelchair to be able to move around? If not, you could lose business from that. How's the lighting? Can older folks or visually impaired people clearly see your product and read the labels with the current lighting? I had this problem in one of my shops and had to add more lights. The store was also not big enough for someone in a wheelchair so a potential customer was not able to come in and shop while in her chair. She did get out the chair, but she did not get to look at everything like she wanted.

What are the utilities like in the shop? Is the wiring and plumbing old or updated? How old are the windows. These things will make a difference on your bills. Is it currently wired to get the internet should you choose to have it?

Will you take credit cards? What company will you go with? Will you have a minimum purchase required for CC's and debit cards?

I'm sure there are some considerations I have am forgetting. There is a lot to think about.

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I've got a lot of the stuff worked out - the shelving would be built by DH, my grandfather's a screenprinter. My poor binder is stuffed. I realize the large undertaking in what I want to do, but it's something I believe in and have been saving the capital for and hopefully, it's only the first step towards my ultimate goal. I will also have a small private backer (it's not alot but it's enough).

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Best thing to do is write down your pros and cons. DH wanted me to quit working and open a shop....hell naw!

After I broke everything down for him, he understood why I chose to keep my business right at home.

But only you know if it is worth it. If you feel the time is right, then go for it. But make sure you have all your ducks in a row.

And yes, location and people traffic determine space rental.

Good luck.

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I've got a lot of the stuff worked out - the shelving would be built by DH, my grandfather's a screenprinter. My poor binder is stuffed. I realize the large undertaking in what I want to do, but it's something I believe in and have been saving the capital for and hopefully, it's only the first step towards my ultimate goal. I will also have a small private backer (it's not alot but it's enough).

It is a tremendous undertaking but it certainly is far from impossible to do. To achieve something, it must first start out a dream. I for one can understand the drive and the passion for this. :yes:

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It is a tremendous undertaking but it certainly is far from impossible to do. To achieve something, it must first start out a dream. I for one can understand the drive and the passion for this. :yes:

Yep! :) But being something I really want - I don't want to let passion cloud my judgement. The longer I research and plan something, the more I second guess and revise and end up with the final product perfect! :)

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Yep! :) But being something I really want - I don't want to let passion cloud my judgement. The longer I research and plan something, the more I second guess and revise and end up with the final product perfect! :)

That is what a smart business person does....so do what you are doing.

Keep us updated.

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Something else to keep in mind is your time...be prepared to be strapped to your store. 6 days a week...and if you dont have any one working for you that also means no lunch breaks.....

Also...the daycare you will have for your little one.

I have 5 kids I opened my own store...and thought oh....i will just have a playroom for the kids...well...it didnt always work out that way...its tough to run your own store and have your kids there....(i only had my youngest who was 4 there everyday)

i have been home now since Sept 6th of this year and I am soooooooooooo glad....while I do miss visiting with my customers daily.....They call me and place orders...But I LOVE being home!

anyway thats just my 2 cents!

Kris

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Thank you!

On my second budget draft, I figured at average biz hours of 10am-8pm and when I start, it will all be me, closed on Sundays and Mondays. Most strip malls around here are closed on Sundays anyways. Some do have policies you must be open during their times, so that can fluctuate too. I figure right now, if I put 6 solid months working by myself, after that I could afford 1 part time hire of approximately 28 hours a week, because by then, I'm hoping I'll need more time at home to produce. Having under 3 employees will keep me in a decent tax area and the only extra expense would be worker's comp, but that will have to be seen after the first 6 months of course.

The places I'm looking at, the owners pay utilities and repairs. I would have to provide hardware only, and then of course the merchant accounts for payment acceptance etc.

I want to thank you all again for your input, it's EXTREMELY valuable to me, and I thank you for taking the time to respond.

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Something else to think about in a lot of the strip malls that you have to pay for is a portion of parking, lighting, security, signage, etc. It's usually not built into your lease price but all the stores in the strip have to pay for the parking lot type stuff (including landscapers if there are any types of plants/bushes/trees)

I have the same dream. I'd love to open a storefront and everytime I drive by the new shopping centers in the "nice" areas, I stop and look and dream. But I know it's not feasible for me right now. I work enough at home and don't get the chance to spend enough time with my family. At least at home, the kids can come out and visit with me.

Best of luck!

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Have you considered the amount of inventory it will take to fill your store and how much time (and money) it will take to do it?

Have you done enough shows or sold enough on your website to get an idea of what kind of sales you can expect? If you are only offering homemade candles and b&b, what if they just don't sell? People like variety and let's face it, some people might think you have the greatest stuff on earth, but there will be other folks who refuse to buy anything if it isn't a famous brand, so if that's all you have to offer, they will walk out empty handed. How will you deal with that?

Have you calculated how much you will need to sell everyday in order just to pay your rent?

Have you developed a marketing plan with detailed cost for advertising yet?

Have you checked out the competition?

Have you visited any shop owners in the area you are considering to see what their experience in the area has been?

Your husband is in the military and you have kids. How will that affect your ability to make a long-term committment to owning a shop? Are your living arrangements stable at this point?

What about financing? Do you have savings or another source of revenue you can live off of if the store doesn't take off right away? If the store doesn't work out, will your personal finances be ruined?

These aren't questions you have to answer publicly--they're just some things you should think about. I have known many shop owners who have had the same dream, only to have it become a nightmare because of inadequate planning and under capitalization. There are several internet forums for retailers where they share their woes about how tough it is to make it in retail, especially now.

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Have you considered the amount of inventory it will take to fill your store and how much time (and money) it will take to do it?
Approximately $7,000 for the stuff I want. Several thousand more reserved for other items, if I possibly go with a variety section as well.
Have you done enough shows or sold enough on your website to get an idea of what kind of sales you can expect? If you are only offering homemade candles and b&b, what if they just don't sell? People like variety and let's face it, some people might think you have the greatest stuff on earth, but there will be other folks who refuse to buy anything if it isn't a famous brand, so if that's all you have to offer, they will walk out empty handed. How will you deal with that?

An excellent point. This is where I believe location will come into play largely, advertising, and of course the aforementioned variety aspect. Shows are not accurate counts IMO, because shows give an inflated estimate in general due the large concentration of people. I'd rather be overpreparing and underestimating that under and over. For in person selling and web sales, I believe that with the resources I have and had building up to this, especially the last 3 months with word of mouth alone, it's a better judgement, but still not as accurate. This is where my research will take me into shop owners areas and pulling public financial records and documents for the surrounding businesses.

Have you calculated how much you will need to sell everyday in order just to pay your rent?
For a few places I'm deeply interested in, I ran the numbers on this as well. It's quite doable for some of the smaller storefronts in the several hundred feet "hall style" stores. Without NNN, very doable.
Have you developed a marketing plan with detailed cost for advertising yet?

I've inquired to several print and television stations for roundabout estimates and have several thousand budgeted for this as well. There are also 24 "free" publications that will allow small ads, and only a small fee for color print ads.

Have you checked out the competition?
At this time and this end of town, there isn't any in a store. In fact, when I scoped salons, handicraft stores, flea market and the farmer's market I did not come across a single person who did the things I do.
Have you visited any shop owners in the area you are considering to see what their experience in the area has been?

This I'm putting off until closer to crunch time. With the current situation and the general reservance related to the Election, I think a better time to get a better feel is closer to the dates I would like to go with, so it gives the most recent information. Someone who's kicking butt right now, may find that this time next year, they are quite dire.

Your husband is in the military and you have kids. How will that affect your ability to make a long-term committment to owning a shop? Are your living arrangements stable at this point?

Yep, bought a home. DH's tour of duty is special duty assignment which will keep him permanently stationed here without chance of re-assignment throughout the rest of his enlistment. With the kids aspect, which is the toughest part IMO - given the hours I wish to work and the days off I wish, I'm debating on whether to take on a part-time right away or hold off and suck it up for several months so I can avoid the extra taxes and programs, just to have 1 or 2 hires.

What about financing? Do you have savings or another source of revenue you can live off of if the store doesn't take off right away? If the store doesn't work out, will your personal finances be ruined?

I have two savings accounts that will not be touched for the start up, only as living expense if required, additional capital being shouldered by an investor. If the business flops in a year, I will still be safe financially - though probably broken hearted.

These aren't questions you have to answer publicly--they're just some things you should think about. I have known many shop owners who have had the same dream, only to have it become a nightmare because of inadequate planning and under capitalization. There are several internet forums for retailers where they share their woes about how tough it is to make it in retail, especially now.

I don't mind sharing publicly, because I'm sure there are others who could possibly benefit from the questions and answers if they think about it. Especially given the point you've made about businesses going under, this is why my planning stage is so incredibly long. I can see the fault's and triumph's of some, and break down failures of others, off the smallest of details. I realize I can't look at the glass totally full, but must plan and plan and plan for the glass coming up empty... and broken.

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Without having read all the posts in this thread, let me just say you would be nuts to consider opening a store. You shouldn't even remotely consider such a thing until you have done a few years of craft shows or set up at a nice flea market/farmer's market kind of venue. You need an established customer base. You can achieve that by getting your products and name out there is much less expensive, less traumatic ways than opening a store.

I have never consider and never will consider opening a store where the rent, utilities, cleaning the toilet, etc, etc, are my sole responsibility. No way, no how! You would probably have to sign a lease and you have NO clue how well you'll do.

As far as cost, only a local realtor/commercial property manager can tell you that. There is no possible way for anybody here to give you even a clue.

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I agree with Sliver, only people versed in the real estate prices of your area will be able to assist you in what is "average." I guess you received enough inspiration from your previous post about being able to promote yourself that you are ready for a store front. It's a huge undertaking, and to own a store front you have to be out there and sell yourself, your location and your product CONSTANTLY. I've been involved in the start up of a small business (a print shop) and the amount of hours that are required are probably 4-5 times what you have written on paper.

I'm sure your law school education will help assist with the contracts, etc., but you still have to be a salesperson as well as a frugal and smart business person.

Do you have wholesale accounts now? Do you do shows now? I can't imagine craft shows being the experience required to own a store, but I could be wrong.

I am not trying to squash your dream at all. I think it's wonderful, but I'm lending you a more practical side to what I see. Given your posts about your life, your children, you buying a house recently, etc., I personally think doing the home party circuit would be a good way to get started.

Good luck in whatever avenue you choose.

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My question about selling myself was pertaining to cold sells. Walking into someone else's place of business, demanding their time, then selling myself, trying to get them to buy from me, when I've come in their turf on their time. In this respect, someone comes into my store and I can highlight the benefits. Again, this isn't something I'm taking lightly and am doing quite a long research period on. I have a few small shows that I've taken on and a very large show as well.

Given the hours to operate the store and then coming home and creating - I know I'll be putting in at least 80-90 hour weeks after the first few weeks (hopefully and on the extreme side) because I will have a full inventory with excess before I start.

I do have a few wholesale accounts now, thanks to some great networking and a donation basket to an animal welfare group's charity auction and another basket I took to a salon who was raising money for a woman who has medical expenses that she cannot take care of.

My ultimate goal was always a storefront, but now that I have the proper investor, a rounded line, and time to research it before leaping. I'm not doing this next month, or even in the next 9 months at all. I personally want AT LEAST a year of planning, budgeting, preparation, scouting, etc. But it has to start somewhere and the first part was the property because if it was say $5k - no way. But I've contacted a commercial RE agent, who's given me some very good lead points to consider, and some available properties to get an idea. One place with a medium locale, medium traffic - 600 sq. ft, no NNN, security and utilities provided was $600 a month. Of course, that will probably be gone by the time I am anywhere close to ready, but I have a baseline. Some were cheaper, some were god awful and some were so upscale I'd need 10 backers to take it on.

But I do appreciate ALL viewpoints, not just the sunshine up my rear posts. It's important to look at practicality, positivity AND negativity - because ALL are aspects of what I'm trying to achieve.

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If you feel you have your bases covered and are ready to make that jump, I say go for it. You never know until you try it. Great things always start with that intial idea. But, having done it myself for the past 3 years, I can tell you it is not easy. I have worked my butt off to get my business to where it is today and it still isn't anywhere near where I want to be. I am able to keeping going because my kids are older and grown so I can devote more time to it, and I have the wonderful support of my DH.

Think long and hard about this before you leap. And when you come up with certain figures of what it will cost you, plan on at least doubling that. And just know that a great location and some advertising isn't going to bring them in to your store in flocks. It is attainable if done at the right time, in the right manner with great products.

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Boy, how am i going to pare this answer down?... We started out in a strip center, 1500 sq ft for $900 with a three year lease. Almost went broke. no traffic. For the last four years we have a store in a mall, 540 sq ft for $2400/mo ( i think) my wife does the bookkeeping and bill paying. But we are doing great! Blessed! location is everything. look at price second or third. lots of start up costs involved in moving into a storefront. Signage is a big one. The sign for the first store was $2600 and for the second $3600. Display equipment is expensive. We dont advertise. too expensive for what you get. We tried for years and decided it was a waste. Staying in one place for a long time and selling good products at a good price will build your clientele. Our first year here was barely breakeven. Now, after four years, our sales are almost four times the first year.Study your location carefully. There's usually a reason why a space is cheap. Look at the surrounding stores. Do they bring in lots of traffic?

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