a special guest post by Kim Gosney of Hope Loves Cards on how she is growing her little biz teeny tiny (& you can too!).
So, here I am sitting at the desk in my teeny tiny stationery store. When this shot was taken I was so excited because I am part of a growing new trend in business. I call it Community Retail and this is a little bit about my experience going teeny tiny.
I have been running an online stationery store for about 2 1/2 years. It has been an exciting ride. There have been many successes and many opportunities, but I really love my “FUN” work as my daughter, Kathryn Hope calls it. But, there are many sides to my personality. Here’s a run down of all of my jobs:
- Retail Store Manager (42+ hours a week)
- Owner of Hope Loves Cards AKA Glittery Stationery Empire
- Mom to Kathryn Hope, amazingly adorable seven year old
I am slightly embarrased to admit that I work into the wee hours every night. I send emails at 2 am and rarely, if ever, get enough sleep to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. Mt. Dew is a staple in my fridge – and my hubby just went to the grocery store, but didn’t bring the Mt. Dew – so now I’m afraid I might fall asleep before finishing this post. But, I TRULY love all the hard work because I am growing my business teeny tiny and that means that means BIG progress is underway.
Here is a brief overview of Community Retail – this is a photograph of one side of Unique Boutiques and Marketplace located in Clayton, North Carolina. What appeals to me about the concept is that I am a vendor – my little booth is one of many – located inside Unique Boutiques and Marketplace.
Main Vendor Advantages:
- Short term lease (6 months) at super low rate = storefront location WITHOUT breaking the bank
- Keep your full time job + earn extra income from storefront = MORE MONEY
- Deck out your space – make it as simple or extravagant as you like = FUN!!!
- Local exposure + meeting and getting to personally talk to your clients = PRICELESS!
Being a vendor instead of an owner opens up a world of possibilities for me that I wouldn’t be able to pursue working full time. I do not have to work inside my teeny tiny store every day – I go in once a week to tidy up, restock, drop off custom orders. I get the experience of owning a store without the fear that I do not have enough money for my lease or product to stock my store with. I get to test the waters and really work on my product line because all of the customers shopping in the store are so willing to give feedback! The local connections that I am making are really helping me shape what new products I am going to be offering. By the end of my first week in Community Retail I had developed relationships with other vendors which is great for support and encouragement too!
A few things to consider if you think going teeny tiny might be right for you!
- Make sure you have a business license if needed in your area and that you have completed any business paperwork like forming an LLC. Also, don’t forget sales taxes make sure you have who is paying sales taxes in your lease agreement just to make things super clear!
- Will your product offerings translate to “grab and go” items? Can your goodies be purchased easily by your customers and do you need to have a custom order system in place for your merchandise.
- Have a call to action inside your store. Have something fun inside your store for your customers to do so you can build your mailing list and fill it up with local customers. For example – note cards (I use my bloopers) that customers can fill out with all of their contact info. I also have a note letting customers know that they can sign my desk to help my customers feel like my store is their store too! Oh and I almost forgot I have a giant orange mailbox for people to drop off special orders in too.
The entire process from signing the lease to opening up shop took about one month. I spent the first week drawing out sketches on graph paper of what the total look and feel of the store would be. I also ordered all of the supplies that I needed to make sure they arrived on time. The second week was spent checking into regulations to see what additional licensing I would need. I also started working on the product line – making some of my items a little more mainstream so that they could be purchased grab and go style. My little kids that would normally be personalized with a name got a more traditional “Thank You” so anyone could purchase them. I also developed a custom order sheet for anyone that wanted personalized stationery. In week two I glittered stationery day and night and came up with some adorable packaging for my stationery too! In week three I visited my booth to check everything over and attended the first vendor meeting. And finally, in week four, I took a vacation from my full time job to paint, hammer, glue, nail and build my teeny tiny dream. I also got to stock my store with the most ridiculously cute stationery EVER!
Other special things to think about before opening your own little mini store:
- Does the owner offer no compete as part of your lease meaning if you sell stationery will anyone else be able to sell stationery too?
- What should your store design look like? How can you show your personality in a teeny tiny space.
- How much space will your product need and how can you create room to grow?
- What is your budget for paint, construction of space, and product for grand opening?
- What is your marketing strategy? How will you let your customers know you have a real live store?
- When will you visit your store? How can you let your customers know when you are going to be dropping by?
- How will you create a WOW factor for your customers to keep them coming back time and time again?
As my grand opening approached I was filled with excitement and anticipation. There were several events including a Girl’s Night and a Vendor Shopping Night to make sure that everything was in place before the big Grand Opening Day. Kathryn Hope came to work with me for the first time ever – as the Glittery Princess spokesmodel for her stationery company. She was beaming with excitement when she saw the giant Kathryn Hope on the wall. And guess what – the customers were excited to meet her too. It was wonderful to see the entire store stocked and ready for business when just a month before it was an empty space. There was such a tremendous sense of pride for the owner, Christy Kenyon, when she stepped back to take everything in. And…she’s totally hit the nail on the head with Unique Boutiques and Marketplace – a unique business that has given my teeny tiny dreams great BIG wings!
Oh! My I did also want to say a HUGE thank you to Mayi Carles because she really helped me truly understand that I needed to “Narrowing My Niche, narrow it narrow it!”
I’m a total rockstar when it comes to making cards. If I was a superhero my power would be…ENERGY (that is if energy comes in the form of Mt. Dew & cupcakes!). My biggest fear in life is that I will run out of glitter glue + envelopes. Come connect with me! <<WEBSITE>> <<BLOG>> <<@HOPELOVESCARDS>>