Who Cares if there's a Recession? I just started a business

by Maggie Wells on 22 May 2009 10 comments

About four months ago my best friend thought she’d run a crazy idea by me. Want to open a shop together?

No.

It’ll be fun....

No.

Come on we can do it together.

No. Okay. Let me think about it.

The only person I know busier than I am is my friend Kristy. A year ago a woman with a salon and boutique who did nails asked if Kristy would come back and do hair at her salon. Kristy had a good reputation in town and had made a little home salon and was getting by that way. She’d put herself through college doing hair and a few years back had decided that doing hair fit better with the mom schedule than anything else.The original salon owner was leaving and offered Kristy the business. She was buying but there was a whole second room in the shop that didn’t have much in it. The rent for that room would be about $100.00 a month. Was I interested?

I did what any friend does. I went home and ran it by the family.

Here are some factors we considered:

Cheap overhead?
Concept of the store?
Location of the shop?
Time to devote to it?

The more I thought about it, the more the idea sounded intriguing.

The overhead is $100 a month plus $60 in Internet expenses. I’d been wanting to have an office in town so that I could stop working from home all the time. The salon is located caddy corner to my kids’ school. One was getting out at noon and the other at two so I was frantically driving back and forth or having to hang around to go home. With the Internet, I could still grade papers and work in a new place. Kristy is busy and so am I. She cuts hair in the morning; I’m online  in the afternoon. We could have a shop open all day and just overlap by about thirty minutes each day.

Then it dawned on me. A couple of years ago I’d started up a site on etsy.com for a bunch of women around here that made things but weren’t very Internet savvy so that they could promote their wares online. I called a few of the ones that were around. If I open an artisan consignment shop , are you up for it?

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

We’ve been up and running for two months. I’ve got 15 local venders that  make t-shirts, soap, lotions, bbq sauce, hot sauce, jewelry, bread mixes, rocking chairs, spin and dye their own yarn plus a few artists in the area that hang their photographs and paintings. In the corner of the shop I’ve set up my desk with my wireless to grade papers and write. We put the waiting room for the salon in the room so that customers get an eye full of stuff to look at and browse through while they are waiting for hair cuts. We’re the only place for Wi-fi on the way to three campgrounds. We have a huge porch out front for the kids to play on. We aren’t making the big bucks but we don’t owe anyone a dime either.  We put together a small book exchange too.

In a town with only 150 residents in a region with only 2000, having a place to hang out and to showcase local stuff for the tourists, having a little shop like this one can play a big role in the community. Once a month we have an ‘event’ that helps us make rent---thus far we’ve always cleared rent that one day for the whole month. Somedays we only make about $10 bucks. But I look at it this way---had I not moved my office into the shop , I’d have been sitting there grading papers anyhow---now I’ve got $10 extra.

Local response has been great!  Vendors are willing to ‘babysit’ the store when I can’t be there. There’s nothing around here in the way of competition and people are happy to be supporting the local artisans before they go to other sources like the Internet or big box stores two hours away.

The husbands helped us with building fixtures and set up. Kristy's given some free hair cuts in trade for banners for the store and advertising. Low and behold! Last week a restaurant opened across the street from us. What was a tiny deserted ghost of a town now has a full two blocks of commerce.

So if you are sitting around working from home and you don’t mind someone walking through every now and then walking through and buying a little one of a kind treasure, consider opening a little shop---you might just make yourself and your community smile.

Long Live SierraMaid!
 

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Guest's picture
Bobbi

I am thinking of opening a new business too. I am just in the research stages right now and everyone thinks I am absoultely crazy!

Maggie Wells's picture

Working in a cafe and department store in my youth I think are now helping the store. I learned from the get go not to:

 Take out loans

Have  expensive fixtures

But I did learn to be neat and tidy, have a concept, and:

Relish the small space (don't expand until you can)

Listen to what the community wants because they're going to be your clientele (which is why we have the book exchange, are serving tea, and have become the internet wifi hub on our side of the valley)

 

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture
A

It demonstrates the power of community in such a variety of positive ways--from responding to a great opportunity, building on prior business relationships, creatively engaging new segments of the local community, and developing practical methods of increasing business income. Kudos! And please keep us posted on how things go. I'd be very interested in learning about the challenges, opportunities and successes that occur going forward.

Guest's picture
Briana Sanford

If we lived closer, I could supply the shop with cupcakes! Glad to hear it's going so well :-)

Myscha Theriault's picture

A shop and an open microphone night. You are really a community builder. Good for you.

Guest's picture
Lucille

That is wonderful. With the economy being lousy and so many people being let go I have seen a few more small businesses open up. I would really rather give my money directly to someone local right now than to a big retail conglomerate. I feel like it makes a larger impact. They have a job and more of the money is going to someone here rather than a large portion of it leaving the area.

Guest's picture
Kevin

I really enjoyed this. Not only do I think starting a business is smart in this economy, you really set it up around your lifestyle. That is so important-any financial burdens are lessened when we focus on enjoying our lives, and maximize that goal instead of just "stuff".

Maggie Wells's picture

I just got back from a shopping trip for the store. Super Fun!

 

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture

Well done on your new venture, no point in being shy about these things, if you've done your homework, have the drive to be excited about it and win at it, then this is the best time.

A lot of businesses have gone to the wall during these time because they weren't properly prepared for a downturn and couldn't meet their liabilities. With so many competitors gone, and then coming in with a clean slate, you've definitely got the advantage. My thinking is you would have been at much higher risk if you began during the boom and your competitors were strong and flush with cash.

Personally my business is booming at the same time many similar businesses are crashing

Well done to you - follow your dreams!

Guest's picture
Guest

I make necklaces for extra money and I'm doing pretty good. I also write articles, have a website and am an affiliate. Anything to help pay the bills.

Here are my articles

http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-make-money-and-work-at-home

http://hubpages.com/hub/Choosing-a-Pet-for-a-Toddler-Hermit-Crab

http://hubpages.com/hub/Making-cross-necklaces-can-make-a-profit