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  • Craft shop?

    I know, most will say in advice to this question, and maybe a few members in pennsylvainia can ease my mind in faith with me it wil work out. since PA is the area im looking at starting things...

    Im looking to possibly open up a craft shop (mainly at this point scroll sawn portraits etc.)

    Im looking to open it up on a main road (medium traffic road) somewhere around halifax, millersburg, harrisburg area.

    Id obviously need to collect tax and all that stuff we americans love, but do you guys here on the forum think there would be enough intrest in a genuine craft shop for intrest to be taken and profit to be made.

    I relize this will be nothing but opinions from folks that love the crafts i do (i wont hold anyone but myself accountable if faillure is the outcome) Im looking for everyones opinion (since ive never even been to craft shows to sell things) maily because of having to move all the pieces of art and all that kinda hastle.) whats the success rate at craft shows for you guys?... I know ebay isnt truely the way to go as far as getting much for what we do, or even what its worth...

    Mainly im looking for simply this... Suggestions, Advice, Opinions on wether or not it could work (since chinas killing the genuine craft industry), and obviously encouragement (but more than that honesty...)

    look at my photo gallery, could my talent cut it?

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to read the post, and a special thank you if you give me you honest opinion...

    ~Tim Bonner
    'smile it makes people wonder what your up to, and brightens anothers day.'

  • #2
    That's a doosie of a question. There are so many variables. Are you in a high traffic area? Is this a metro area where there are more "well to do folks" willing to spend their money on something nobody else has? Is it a touristy area? I believe, judging by your 4 gallery pictures, that you have the sufficient talent. I'm afraid, it will take much more than just talent. You will need a lot of variety to keep people interested and coming back. I think it would help if you could find a wood carver and wood turner, who would be interested in helping fill up your store and add the variety. Unless of course, you also do that. Also, someone that is good at making shelves or small furniture. The more variety, the better.

    This idea had actually crossed my mind, briefly. But, I would have looked for outside talent to add to the mix.

    Good luck if you venture forth. Unless you can locate it where you have new potential buyers coming thru weekly, I think it would be tough. You'd really have to focus heavily on holidays.

    Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.


    • #3
      I've never even started a business so consider that when reading my post. I would think the overhead would kill your profits. As soon as I get more productive I'm going to try to convince some local places to try selling my stuff. Several avenues I'm considering: Christian Book Store, Local Air Force Museum, Local gift shop, Tobacco/gift shop anyplace else selling unique gifts.

      Craftsman 16" VS, Puros Indios and Sam Adams!
      Scrollin' since Jun/2006

      My Gallery (reciprocal links welcomed)


      • #4

        It isn't a question of talent, you have the talent. The question is: are you a businessman? To succeed in business, and that is what you are planning on setting up, you need different skills than a woodworker. You can have both sets of skills, but you must learn both sets.

        To be a success, you need a business plan. The Small Business Administration web site has a link to SCORE, a group that helps small businesses with start up.
        We support America's small businesses. The SBA connects entrepreneurs with lenders and funding to help them plan, start and grow their business.

        From planning to execution, get resources or real-time assistance for every stage of your business. SCORE has a library of useful documents and online courses, as well as experienced mentors to help you with your business journey.  

        You could be on a very busy highway, but if nobody stops their car what does the traffic volume matter? You need them to stop and get out of their cars, enter your store, and purchase something.

        Two thoughts:
        Did you hear about the Chef that opened his own restaurant because he was such a great Chef? He went out of business because he was in the kitchen cooking all the time and didn't know what the customers were experiencing in the dining room. (It takes a lot more than knowledge and skill in your core business.)

        SCORE has story they always tell: Once opon time a survey was done of start-up small business owners on what they thought was important. They all talked about their core business tools, their business location, their blueprints for growth, manufacturing facilities, and so on. After 5 years those owners still in business were surveyed again. The response was unanimous, the most important thing was PAYING customers. (All any business really does is add value to some product, it's getting some customer to PAY for what you sell that allows you to purchase more product, add value to it, and make the next sale, and so on, and so on...)

        I am trying to be positive and supportive for what ever you decide to do, but I wanted to be sure you know that you will need to have a very honest business plan.

        Good luck

        PS: There is a reason that after several years on the Craft Show circuit and building the experience of craft product making, crafters try to find a Greeting Card store to display their products. Then they open a whole 'nother can of worms when dealing with the greeting card shop business owner.


        • #5
          Ah yes, the overhead. You definitely wouldn't want to even consider hring help, to start with. Besides the wages, you would to pay workman's comp and unemployment comp and social security, besides the high cost of liability insurance. I have had a few small stores in the past and the worst thing, is sitting there all day when practically nobody comes in. That happens to most small businesses. You can't afford to shut down for lunch because that's when customers would come by. You would have to be open saturdays because that's when customers would come by. Basically, be prepared to be at the store at least 48 hours a week. You better have your scrollsaw and other tools at the store because that is the only time you would find to be able to actually make your products. Of course, due to the sawdust and finish fumes, it would have to be in a room isolated from the sales floor. But then, how would you know when someone enters the store? You could rig up a chime in the entry but if you're sanding or something, you probably wouldn't hear it. Then the potential customer could help themself.

          I don't know about you, but I've sure talked myself out of it.

          One more thing, be prepared to spend at least a couple thousand for advertising to start with. Those small $75 ads just don't get noticed. People need to see the name of the business repetitively for it to sink in. That would mean radio, newspaper and a local TV channel, if you have one. The combination does work. I've tried it. Unfortunately, people have a short memory and must be constantly reminded, until you get completely established, which could take 2 or 3 years.

          These are just a few of the negatives. There are also some positives too, such as answering to no one but yourself. You'll also get to meet a lot of nice people, with a few jerks thrown in the mix.

          One more thing. Whenever you do start making a profit, be prepared to pay more taxes. Currently, your employer pays half your social security. When you are self employed, you pay it all yourself. Then it's called self employment tax, at the rate of 15.3%.

          Good luck whichever direction you take. Mike's advice is good. It's at least a good way to get your feet wet and find out what the public will pay for your art. I have some portraits at a small restaurant 5 miles from town, and it ain't doin diddly. I also have some merchandise at a christian gift store, and before Christmas, they sold quite a bit of my scrollings.

          Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.


          • #6
            Crafts seem to be a business that can ebb & flow quite significantly. What people were crazy about one year gathers dust the next. There are a couple of nearby small towns in Amish country that are pretty much dedicated to craft shops. We visited one a couple years ago and all the store fronts were occupied and stores were full of inventory. We visited last year and several had closed or were closing. It was kind of sad. I've seen similar things at craft shows and talked to crafters who say that you have to keep thinking ahead because the same thing doesn't necessarily sell year in year out.

            To me you either have to offer items that are unique or you need a wide variety. If you are specializing in portraits, do you intend to do custom work? That might be a good way to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
            Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."


            • #7
              Originally posted by Bill Wilson
              If you are specializing in portraits, do you intend to do custom work? That might be a good way to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
              Good point. However, if you do have the idea of doing custom work, do you really need the expense and headaches of a store front? If a person was so inclined, he could probably drum up some fairly steady business by taking a half dozen of your best before and afters, and having them printed on 8 1/2" X 11" glossy white paper, and then having them inserted in your local paper. If you did this a couple times, I believe it would catch on and word would maybe spread. This way, you're not committed to an expensive lease and tied down 6 or 7 days a week without proper reward.

              Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.


              • #8
                I've often toyed with this idea myself as our downtown has a growing arts district with several galleries. I wouldn't even consider trying it as just scrollsawn stuff though. The gross dollars you need to make while running a storefront are much higher than what scrollwwork alone could provide. I was playing with the idea of a craft coop where either several crafters split the costs or renting out spaces within the store to various crafters (ala Cape Cod Crafters). While a high traffic location is nice, the types of stores that draw in that high traffic also matter. A high traffic location that includes a Christmas Tree Shop, and Ikea and a Walmart would be a horrible location for a craft shop (IMHO).
                Phil gave some terrific advise regarding developing a business plan and SCORE. You should have a business plan even if you're not planning on a brick and mortar location.
                Scrollsaw Patterns Online
                Making holes in wood with an EX-30, Craftsman 16" VS, Dremel 1680 and 1671


                • #9
                  There's a consignment type craft store up in Lansing that has been there for many years. How successful is it, I don't know, but they aren't going out of business. I think if you open a craft store just to sell your own products, you may doom yourself. Sure your product is good, but you need to provide lots of different options and you need to keep new product coming in. If your running a business, you have less time to build your products unless you have store employees, which costs alot of money. I don't know if your talking a craft store of just you or a craft mall. A craft mall is the way to go. You don't need the most busy location, you just need a reasonable size pole barn with heat and power and reasonable access. Something on the fringe of town lets say, where people drive by, and rent is cheap. You designate a booth size and people come in and set up booths with their crafts, one of the booths is your own crafts. You can simply charge rent, or you can take a sales percentage of other peoples goods. Alot of people visit these "craft malls", believe me, my wife is one of them. Can't say for sure, but my guess is that alot more woman than men customers. But women spend the most money and they do buy for their men !

                  I think Kevin is on the right track.

                  Do you have a local fair, or craft show event? If so, go to it and ask every person there if they are local or not. Take notes, and then you'll know the potential for people to set up booths. Most summer craft show venders also run craft mall booths throughout the year.
                  Jeff Powell


                  • #10
                    LIFE'S SHORT, USE IT WELL


                    • #11
                      thank you all for your exellent advice... And I have thought about asking my girlfriends grandfather (mid-as-well be my own) about me selling his pens for him... It would add alittle more variety

                      I just learn't how to make roses out of clay tonight (girlfriends moms getting re-married) and she's making her bouqet out of clay roses and things (nope, she's not gonna throw it.) So things like that might be something else to add to the variety, I've recently bought probally about $200+ of materials to do inlay work (haven't tried it yet, but i'm sure i could handle it) like mother of pearl, all sorts of wood veneers, to do inlays on like instruments and things of that nature... but unlike scrolling i can't really stack cut everything to multiply product for the time it takes to do it...

                      The 'shop' will be in the same building as a motel (like a 7-12 room place) if the owner of the building agree to my ideas (im quite confident they will. they're good friends of mine)... *id help him finish a few of the rooms in the motel in exchange for a place to hold a shop...* Like a gift shop kinda, it would draw attention to the motel as would the motel to the shop. theres a coffee shop and a restraunt all in the same building (or will be, this could also be something i'd help them finish in exchange for my labor. i'd get the shop space)

                      Thanks everyone for all the wonderful advice... please keep it coming, its very appriciated.

                      'smile it makes people wonder what your up to, and brightens anothers day.'


                      • #12
                        Tim -

                        If I was opening a store I'd want to make sure I could fully stock it without making a single item myself, in case there's some reason I couldn't work at the saw. It's important people don't see empty shelves. It's important people also see new things on the shelves on return visits, and a wide range of prices too.

                        I'd look into selling raw materials, kits, tools etc as well as finished work. If it is a location families are likely to be passing through, have stuff that appeals to the kids as well, such as craft activity packs, scrolled toys and puzzles. Parents will pay $$$ to keep kids quiet on trips.

                        I would also want to have a good web site with online ordering so I'm not dependent on the local area to sell my stuff.

                        You need to be hard as nails on your business plan forecasts. When it is your own project you can write off the initial capital start-up costs if you want - it is like the bet you must lay down to play in the game, money you should be prepared to lose - but be ruthless about overheads (and don't forget insurance). Finally, you will need a bank manager who likes you and understands what you are doing. A friendly bank manager is better than gold for small businesses.

                        If I was trying to move from selling on eBay to selling in the real world, running a stall at the local mall would definitely be a step on my planned journey.

                        Good luck!

                        "If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg."

                        Saws: AWSF18, Meccano Mk II


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by chrispuzzle
                          Tim -

                          If I was trying to move from selling on eBay to selling in the real world, running a stall at the local mall would definitely be a step on my planned journey.

                          Good luck!

                          I think the mall idea is a great one. Every time I stop at the large mall in Sioux Falls, SD, I always see many of the same vendors year round. They must do quite well. This particular mall is crammed with people every weekend and at Christmas time, it's just plain annoying. If I didn't dislike rules and regulations so much, I'd be tempted to set up there. You'd certainly have the right type of traffic coming thru and if it didn't work out, you're not stuck with a long term lease.

                          Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.


                          • #14
                            The craft co-op that Marsha described sounds like very nearly a perfect arrangement: low overhead, permanent setups, not very labor-intensive. I imagine that a few dozen crafters could join in such a co-op and put up a stunning array of items. From some people I know who run a food co-op, it's the organizers who wind up doing most of the work, so this should be recognized out the outset with perhaps a special concession for selling supplies, gift cards, etc., while everyone else just sells their own wares.

                            I'd suggest paying towards overhead based on a combination of display square footage and sales dollars, which ought to be pretty fair. There could be an arrangement for people who don't want to put in the time, such as a fixed dollar charge per month. Also, the shop could sell stuff on consignment for sellers too small to make membership worthwhile.

                            As far as a stand-alone shop goes, I wouldn't touch it for all the negative reasons described in previous posts. I've thought of doing a couple of big shows per year and maybe a mall kiosk at the holidays, but even then I see a lot of trouble putting enough stock together for a really impressive showing, and the rest of the year that stock would just sit because most of my customers want custom puzzles, not ready-mades.



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