Anyone run a cloth diaper store/website? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 06-03-2010, 01:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I would love to open a small cloth diaper store, out of my home to start, because there is not ONE storefront in my entire state that sells cloth diapers! I would have a website, too, and try to start locally by marketing around and letting people come to my house by appointment to see the merchandise.

I am not a sewer so I would only be a retailer of the major brands and some WAHMs that maybe wanted to sell wholesale to me.

Just looking to connect with anyone else who does this and find out how did you start out and how is it going?

Thanks!
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#2 of 10 Old 06-03-2010, 01:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by TwinMomPlus View Post
I would love to open a small cloth diaper store, out of my home to start, because there is not ONE storefront in my entire state that sells cloth diapers! I would have a website, too, and try to start locally by marketing around and letting people come to my house by appointment to see the merchandise.

I am not a sewer so I would only be a retailer of the major brands and some WAHMs that maybe wanted to sell wholesale to me.

Just looking to connect with anyone else who does this and find out how did you start out and how is it going?

Thanks!
While I'm a huge fan of keeping costs low (especially in the beginning), having people come to your home is a huge safety issue. I honestly can't imagine doing that. It's not only a safety issue just letting someone you don't know in your home but then they also know where you live and can come back anytime (say if they are unhappy). Also, a potential thief gets a free tour of part of your home. Maybe a year ago, a local woman was killed by another woman she met on Craig's List (ad for baby clothes). The woman was pregnant at the time and they killed her and took her baby. I realize things like that are very rare but they do happen--there are some seriously nutty people out there (even if the vast majority are good).

In terms of a website, I think the cloth diaper market is thoroughly saturated (and then some) at this point. Unless you have a really unique angle, it's going to be hard.

Sorry to be a downer!

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#3 of 10 Old 06-03-2010, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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lol that's ok! I know the online market is saturated and the only reason I would have a website is to go along with a b/m store. I didn't think of weirdos coming in my home. I have seen some small CD stores that are run out of homes but I never thought of the potential danger. Wish I could find a cheap b/m store to open up. I know it would do well here because there is nothing here and there are people interested. I plan on asking around and doing some research anyway. But I doubt I ever could afford to do this, just a pipe dream
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#4 of 10 Old 06-04-2010, 12:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I did a search on this forum (WAHM Well) for "Cloth Diapers" and read back through 10 pages (took me all night!). It seems like a lot of people started out by running their CD biz out of their home and marketing to locals. I even googled around for mom owned CD b&m stores and read that a lot started that way, if not all. Maybe I could only have people come in the evenings and weekends when DH is here or meet in a neutral location if I get a weird vibe. Yes, I guess it is dangerous but so is running a b&m store where people could just as easily (or more easily) come to harm me. Anyway, now that I read others have done it, I would love to hear from some of them! Maybe it didn't go so well and no one is left? I hope not!
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#5 of 10 Old 06-04-2010, 01:27 AM
 
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What about doing "shows" where you (and a friend/body guard) go to their house?
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#6 of 10 Old 06-04-2010, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That is a great idea!

and LOL at the bodyguard comment!

I was wishing there was somewhere in town where I could meet people. But I can't really think of any place. Too bad I don't live in one of those neighborhoods that have a little rec center, but those are mostly 55+ or townhomes I guess.
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#7 of 10 Old 06-04-2010, 06:15 PM
 
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This is how I started and I never thought of the safety issue. I had always been emailing the people before they came for an appt - not that someone couldn't scam me - but I had never thought of it. We couldn't wait to get our house back, too - having people in your house is really annoying!

Anyway, the biggest part of this is the sheer expense of buying the inventory. Dh and I were all, "We'll just spend $8000 on inventory and be good to go..." Uhhhhh, no. No one drop ships and you need to have stock on hand and that costs money. Lots and lots of your own money b/c no one is giving a loan for this!!!

Online is totally saturated. To get an idea, follow the Diaper Pin ads for awhile to see all the "store closing" sales. You need to have an angle for online.

Good luck!

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#8 of 10 Old 06-10-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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I have people over to my house all the time (I sell baby carriers) and I've never worried about the security aspect of it.

However -- diapers have an even lower margin than baby carriers, and are less expensive.

So say you have a $20 dollar diaper that you spent $10 on wholesale, plus $1 shipping. And after spending an hour -- or more -- basically running a solo cloth diaper workshop for one customer, she buys one diaper. Or zero diapers. Or she buys a bunch, and then returns all but one because her husband/babysitter/mother/whoever flip out about a) the money she just put into them b) the laundry c) their own squick factor d) whatever.

You have to have somewhere in your house to have all your stock and display it. You have to keep your kids occupied and make sure that the area you're doing demos in is a) clean and b) child-proof and c) entertaining for the older kids who are coming with their mom.

My point -- doing one on one appointments is AWFULLY time-consuming. You have to act like a business person and sit down and crunch some serious numbers -- how much stock is going to cost. How much advertising is going to cost because you will need to get your name out there. How much even a basic, good-looking website is going to cost. How much your TIME is worth and how you'll be able to pay yourself at least something to make up for the hours spent on your business and away from your family. How well you know how to set up an accounting system, because you will have to deal with sales tax, federal and state income tax, all the rest of it.

I don't mean to discourage you -- but you do need to take a harsh, cold, clear-eyed look at the reality of it. Diaper WAHMs are a dime a dozen and in the 8 years since I started CDing I could barely name a handful of brands of diapers, let alone diaper WAHMs, that are still around. I look at the portfolios of web designers who specialize in WAHMs and half the stores aren't even open any more.

Obviously there are exceptions and there are successful stores.....but I think the people who do really well are good at BUSINESS, marketing, advertising, bookkeeping, etc. (or are willing to outsource that work) and the expertise in xyz (diapers, baby carriers, natural toys, etc.) is almost secondary.

Really brainstorm, sit down, work up a business plan, and think about whether you have the resources and family commitment to turn this into a business rather than a hobby.

I am speaking from the perspective of someone with no business background who has learned a lot of these things the hard way -- and am realizing how much I truly did not know when I started. I've been lucky enough to make money -- but not enough to replace the income I would have had working outside the home, and honestly my children would have seen me just about as much if they'd been in daycare. Sometimes half a parent who's not paying attention to you is worse than no parent at all (with a caregiver who is focused on paying attention to you).

OK, novel over!

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#9 of 10 Old 06-10-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quirky View Post
I have people over to my house all the time (I sell baby carriers) and I've never worried about the security aspect of it.

However -- diapers have an even lower margin than baby carriers, and are less expensive.

So say you have a $20 dollar diaper that you spent $10 on wholesale, plus $1 shipping. And after spending an hour -- or more -- basically running a solo cloth diaper workshop for one customer, she buys one diaper. Or zero diapers. Or she buys a bunch, and then returns all but one because her husband/babysitter/mother/whoever flip out about a) the money she just put into them b) the laundry c) their own squick factor d) whatever.

You have to have somewhere in your house to have all your stock and display it. You have to keep your kids occupied and make sure that the area you're doing demos in is a) clean and b) child-proof and c) entertaining for the older kids who are coming with their mom.

My point -- doing one on one appointments is AWFULLY time-consuming. You have to act like a business person and sit down and crunch some serious numbers -- how much stock is going to cost. How much advertising is going to cost because you will need to get your name out there. How much even a basic, good-looking website is going to cost. How much your TIME is worth and how you'll be able to pay yourself at least something to make up for the hours spent on your business and away from your family. How well you know how to set up an accounting system, because you will have to deal with sales tax, federal and state income tax, all the rest of it.

I don't mean to discourage you -- but you do need to take a harsh, cold, clear-eyed look at the reality of it. Diaper WAHMs are a dime a dozen and in the 8 years since I started CDing I could barely name a handful of brands of diapers, let alone diaper WAHMs, that are still around. I look at the portfolios of web designers who specialize in WAHMs and half the stores aren't even open any more.

Obviously there are exceptions and there are successful stores.....but I think the people who do really well are good at BUSINESS, marketing, advertising, bookkeeping, etc. (or are willing to outsource that work) and the expertise in xyz (diapers, baby carriers, natural toys, etc.) is almost secondary.

Really brainstorm, sit down, work up a business plan, and think about whether you have the resources and family commitment to turn this into a business rather than a hobby.

I am speaking from the perspective of someone with no business background who has learned a lot of these things the hard way -- and am realizing how much I truly did not know when I started. I've been lucky enough to make money -- but not enough to replace the income I would have had working outside the home, and honestly my children would have seen me just about as much if they'd been in daycare. Sometimes half a parent who's not paying attention to you is worse than no parent at all (with a caregiver who is focused on paying attention to you).

OK, novel over!
Yes to all of this (except the margin is worse!!!!!) Especially the part about a dedicated part of your home and child-care. I lost a whole room of our house and it was set up like a store (shelves, signage, etc.) My kids had to go to my mom's house when I had appts. It is a full-time job, even out of your home. I enjoy business and organization, and my husband has been in retail forever, so we make it work, but we are NOT getting rich and could make more money in a zillion different ways.

DS1 2004 ~ DS2 2005 ~ DD1 2008 ~ DS3 2010 ~ DD2 born at 31 weeks Oct. 2014
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#10 of 10 Old 06-10-2010, 05:06 PM
 
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what about 'renting' space from a local store that sells baby things? its a benifit to them because its another set of folks in their door and you benefit because they already have a client base. its a win win, maybe?

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