Jun 4, 2007

When are people going to learn???

Can I revisit opening a bricks and mortar store again? I have already spoken about this at length: LINK but it continues to astound me at how little people know when they open a store. First of all, they seem to not understand that it's probably the riskiest and hardest thing they will EVER do. I can't stress that enough! You seriously have the potential to LOSE YOUR SHIRT over it!

Two new stores are opening in my area and one is closing. Then there is one in Australia that I am aware of that is closing that also has an interesting story. Actually, one of the new ones opening is actually on it's THIRD owner. I can't believe that people keep trying!

  • New Store Number One: opening later this month in a small community north of me. Here's the problem. This community is a logging town - pretty small - with very little shopping. Just up the road is the MEGA shopping area with a large regional mall, a factory outlet mall, a Micheals, a Joann's, a Target, a Walmart and a SCRAPBOOK STORE right in the middle of it. So, where do people do their shopping from this small logging town? You guessed it - at the large regional shopping area. So, they will bypass the new small scrapbook store most of the time and hit the one over by the mall since they're over there anyway.
  • New (or remade) Store Number Two: This store historically was on Highway 99 which was the major north/south route through Seattle before Interstate 5 was built. The store was in a non-descript strip mall and at one point recently was in the middle of some MAJOR road construction that often made it hard to get into their lot. I think that is what caused the most recent death. So now a NEW owner has moved the store and opened it up. Okay, here's the problem. The community it's in is NOT family friendly. The LDS church shut down the larger LDS unit (Stake) there and moved all the smaller units (wards) to be overseen by other Stakes. Thanks to the HIGH price of homes, there are very few families left in this area. It's all old people who have lived in their homes for years and young DINKS (double income, no kids). It's not a good scrapbook demographic. And, to top it all off, someone asked this new store owner if she had the "Love, Elise" line and she said, "What's that?" YIKES!

  • Store That is Closing: Okay, this store has had a 4 year run. I'll give it that. But, the location wasn't so good from the beginning and another store opened up not too far away recently that's supposed to look like Archivers and be ultra hip (a studio-type store). The visibility of this store was good - you saw its sign as you buzzed past it on Interstate 90. But, by the time you buzzed past, there were no exits to get off and go back. It backed up to a lot of very expensive homes and was in a busy strip mall. But, I would imagine that the rent was astronomically high due to the area it was in. At the end of the day, you just can't sell enough paper to make all the costs and with very few big ticket items left in the industry for small stores to sell, it probably just stopped making sense to work for free. But, I can almost guarantee that as it closes, someone will buy up all their inventory and open another store in the area thinking THEY can do it better.

  • Australian Store Closing: The owner ALMOST joined ScrapBiz. But, after talking to myself and to my Australian Country Coordinator, she decided we had nothing to offer her since she was opening an ACTUAL store. Well, my Australian Coordinator just went to buy up some merchandise from this store at it's "Going Out of Business Sale" and she could have actually learned a LOT from ScrapBiz if she had joined 18 months ago (about how long her store lasted). Apparently, she thought that if one pack of paper was good, three was better. Six of an embellishment wasn't enough, so she bought 25. Kath said that she had probably $100,000 in merchandise, much of it aging quickly. The woman said she had actually done okay her last month in business, but Kath said she still couldn't have possibly broken even that month because of the sheer volume of product she had purchased. It wouldn't have been bad if it had been diverse, but she bought a lot of a little instead of a little of a lot with her money.
Moral of this story - it takes more than a knowledge of scrapbook products to open a store. You have to know the area, you have to consider what your TRUE visibility is and you have to know how much you have to sell to just break even each month. You also have to understand the industry and WHY other stores aren't already there or why they closed. You also have to MARKET your store. Many stores send a newsletter out to current customers but don't seek new ones. The occasional new customer who accidentally stumbles on your store isn't going to do it for you. No, we don't help people open bricks and mortar stores, we leave that to those who specialize in that. But, we CAN help anyone understand the industry and it's trends and how to analyze locations and what to look for in the form of yellow flags that might signal a problem.

You simply can't just sign the lease and put the sign out. It doesn't work anymore. It hasn't worked for a long, long time. Yet, there are still people willing to open a store an hour after having an idea to do it. If you do it, take your time - lots of it - and do proper analysis and research of your area and the industry before you ever put your name on any dotted line.

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