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Old 05-15-2007, 11:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Been looking into starting up an online natural family shop. I spoke with a local businesswoman yesterday who owns a successful children's resale shop. She told me that she would be interested in combining our endevours into one store (which would require her to move into a larger shop to accomodate my inventory and also give her more room).

What would the good, bad and ugly be of having an actual storefront vs. being online?

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 05-16-2007, 06:59 PM
 
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my first question, probably for any partnership, is what's in it for you, what's in it for her? If she's already running a sucessful shop, what do you bring to the table?

Berkeley mom of 3 and President of Tender Cargo Baby Gear
and The Nurture Center Store and Resource Center 3399 Mt Diablo Bl Lafayette CA 888-998-BABY
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Old 05-16-2007, 07:46 PM
 
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I think a lot depends on whether you would be two entirely separate businesses merely sharing one location, or if instead you would be combining your separate businesses into a single venture.

Having a storefront means a lot more overhead. But it also can give you additional exposure. If the resale shop is already successful, it could introduce your "natural family" products to customers who wouldn't actively seek them out online.
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Old 05-17-2007, 12:17 AM
 
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SHRINKAGE!! Shoplifting and shopworn merchandise are two big downsides to B&M stores. Besides the overhead, which should include liabilty insurance in case someone slips and falls inside your store or skateboards into your front display window. Both things happened to me when I had a beach boutique in Hermosa Beach the 70's.
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Old 05-17-2007, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my first question, probably for any partnership, is what's in it for you, what's in it for her? If she's already running a sucessful shop, what do you bring to the table?
It would be me moving in w/her as a seperate business entity. I think the good things would be 1). the fact that I could take ds with me to work, 2). we each would only have to work 3-4 days per week once things got running, 3). I would benefit from her current clients and established reputation and 4). if we each grow, we could seperate in the future.

Basically, she wants this bigger shop, which will allow her to carry more clothing and make more profit. But, she can't afford it on her own. The size of her small shop has her growth very limited.

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 05-17-2007, 07:04 PM
 
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so, she owns a store and wants more space, and you're willing to help pay for that space and work there part-time in exchange for storing/selling/advertising products there for an internet store you haven't yet created? Or are you ditching the online store plan to have a primarily B&M business plan instead?

It sounds good- if the cost isn't too high and the time commitment fits your availability. It's interesting anyway. Not having your own business yet, it may be hard to commit to this, since so much can go wrong in starting up (unexpected costs, child won't allow you to get work done as planned, web design delays). My worry woudl be that you're tied in to a lease agreement and find out the business just isn't working for you. Then again, there's risk starting any business. just do your homework. Get SCORE or SBA counceling

Berkeley mom of 3 and President of Tender Cargo Baby Gear
and The Nurture Center Store and Resource Center 3399 Mt Diablo Bl Lafayette CA 888-998-BABY
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Old 05-17-2007, 08:58 PM
 
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It would be me moving in w/her as a seperate business entity. I think the good things would be 1). the fact that I could take ds with me to work
Couldn't you do this if you were internet only, or if you had your own separate location?

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2). we each would only have to work 3-4 days per week once things got running
If you would each only be working 3-4 days per week, it sounds as if you would be selling for one another. Do you feel that she will be knowledgeable enough about your products to sell them? Will you be too busy working as her sales clerk to be able to tend to the needs of your business during this time?

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3). I would benefit from her current clients and established reputation
This sounds like the biggest benefit for you. In exchange, it sounds as if she is getting an unpaid employee (you) for 3 or 4 days a week.

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4). if we each grow, we could seperate in the future.
Be careful about the terms of the lease. If one of you goes out of business, will the other one be stuck paying all the rent?
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Old 05-18-2007, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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so, she owns a store and wants more space, and you're willing to help pay for that space and work there part-time in exchange for storing/selling/advertising products there for an internet store you haven't yet created? Or are you ditching the online store plan to have a primarily B&M business plan instead?
At this point, I'm thinking of not doing the internet thing. The more I researched, the more I found that the online natural baby market is oversaturated. I think having a local presence, and maybe in the future adding a website, might have more of an impact.

The business owner and I spoke quite a bit this morning. Sounds like our goals are very similar. She told me that she has decided to go ahead and lease the bigger space even if I don't join her. She also told me that we could break it up....if I have 1/3 of the floor space I will only pay 1/3 of the rent. I know I need to have all of this in writing.

I called an attorney yesterday, and he told me that he'd charge me $700-1000 to register my business for me w/the state. I think he's smoking something! Won't be using his services! LOL

I've also been thinking that I should most probably plan on spending at least 5 days in the shop myself. PP mentioned the fact that she would be left to sell my product for me, and I suppose I shouldn't expect her to do that. She doesn't know too much about attachment parenting (but I'm looking forward to educating her, and she is looking forward to learning). So, the big question is, do I want to get involved with working 5 days a week outside of the home again. I've been REALLY spoiled by having my ultimate freedom the past 2 years. But, then again, it stinks being broke!

Thanks for listening to my ramblings!

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 05-18-2007, 09:08 PM
 
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At this point, I'm thinking of not doing the internet thing. The more I researched, the more I found that the online natural baby market is oversaturated. I think having a local presence, and maybe in the future adding a website, might have more of an impact.
ok. so you'll need to research the local market for oversaturation, and if there's not much competition, you'll need to make sure there's not a good reason why (lack of demand)



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if I have 1/3 of the floor space I will only pay 1/3 of the rent. I know I need to have all of this in writing.
yeah, deinfately get it drawn up right. you're agreement isn't just to lease space, but also includes some commitment of hours worked there for both of you, some commitment to split utilities and credit terminals and right to use space and signage and to represent eachother's products. You need to be able to get out if she's somehow not doing justice to your products or your growth.

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I called an attorney yesterday, and he told me that he'd charge me $700-1000 to register my business for me w/the state. I think he's smoking something! Won't be using his services! LOL
for an LLC or something? Do you know which business format you need? did he help you understand what form and why?
If that's the fee for simple registration paperwork, it's time for Nolo Press



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So, the big question is, do I want to get involved with working 5 days a week outside of the home again. I've been REALLY spoiled by having my ultimate freedom the past 2 years. But, then again, it stinks being broke!
Yeah the decision to start a job needs to be careful, especially since you're not just "going back to work" but buying stock and signing a lease, which is quite a bet and commitment to make it work out!

Secondly, if "being broke" is part of why you need to work, starting a business in any form may not be for you. It takes $ to get started and it's unrealistic to expect real income for a while. If you need to contribute financially now, a normal paycheck is far more likely to provide one

Berkeley mom of 3 and President of Tender Cargo Baby Gear
and The Nurture Center Store and Resource Center 3399 Mt Diablo Bl Lafayette CA 888-998-BABY
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Old 05-19-2007, 01:39 AM
 
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I don't want to sound too negative, but it is really tough to have your kids with you in a storefront business. My husband had a sign shop (we've since moved business to the home) and it got crazy having the kids there. They are so unpredictable around customers, and tend to handle merchandise alot! :
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Old 05-19-2007, 01:48 PM
 
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Carrin,
I'm in Howell and I think there is a need for a crunchy store in your area. The 3 b & m stores (within a 1 hr drive from me) that I know of seem to be doing good. I don't really know much about Lake Orion, I've only been there 1x to go to Heritage Spinning, but I think you have a large target audience within a 1/2 hr of you.
And don't pay for someone to register your business. I have owned 2 different businesses in MI and done the paperwork myself. Just make sure you talk to your acctountant about what entity will work best for you. PM if you have any specific questions and I'll try to help, but my brain is still a little fried from babymaking.

Emily, cooking allergen free, knitting, reading, gardening Mom to 1 beautiful girl, born in the water on July 1, 2006 Wife to 1 handsome man since September 10, 2005
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Old 05-19-2007, 03:31 PM
 
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yeah, deinfately get it drawn up right. you're agreement isn't just to lease space, but also includes some commitment of hours worked there for both of you, some commitment to split utilities and credit terminals and right to use space and signage and to represent each other's products. You need to be able to get out if she's somehow not doing justice to your products or your growth.
These are all important considerations. Sounds as though you'll be subleasing some of the space from her. How will customer purchases work? Will yours be a store within a store, with a separate register and all, or will all purchases be made at a central location? The former is easier for the businesses, but can be a little confusing for customers. The latter is more convenient for customers, but means you have to figure out how much of the sales goes to each of you. Credit card sales would automatically deposit to one of your accounts, and fees would come out of the same account. So, while it would be easier for customers, it would involve more bookkeeping.
Also, if you kept your business as a store within a store, you could keep it open as few hours as you wanted, if you could make it separate enough; depending on shoplifting risks, a curtain or a screen could be adequate.

My daughter has been with me in a retail store since she was a newborn. Generally, it's worked pretty well, though she did damage her share of merchandise when she was about your little one's age.
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Old 05-19-2007, 04:09 PM
 
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I'm in the process of setting up a *mostly* online business atm, and I have to say that if I had the opportunity to go "brick and mortar" I would. Most of the companies who's baby products I swear by wont let me open a wholesale acct because I don't have a physical storefront. It really opens you up to a lot more options in what you can carry.
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Old 05-19-2007, 06:42 PM
 
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It would be fairly easy to survey the existing store's customers, and ask them if they would be interested in buying the following products .... Have some samples with you, and discuss pricing with the potential customers..

As far as finding wholesalers, there is an interesting article here:
http://cgi3.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl...=imstalkingyou!
about finding wholesale suppliers (and some other things as well). The author has a bit of an attitude, BUT some good info there.
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Old 05-19-2007, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A million thank you's to you all! Exellent advice. I took dh today to meet the business owner and to glance in the window of the new shop. He really seems to be coming around, but he is still afraid that there isn't a need for such a store. He suggested we go look at similar shops that are within our part of the state. I think, if we did that, and talked with the owners (and if he saw a few customers there it would help), he'd feel a heckofa lot better about this.

I gotta love the guy. He is really looking out for me here, and I can tell he is trying really hard to keep his cool (this is an emotional thing for me, and I'm trying even harder to not get upset with his hesitation). I think, deep down, he feels like if he says o.k. and we go ahead....and the store flops....he'll somehow feel like it was his fault. He's funny like that.

I'm wondering if I contact these shop owners and ask if we can come talk with them, if they'll welcome me warmly or think I'm up to something? I just prefer honesty. I used to sell homes for a builder, and would HATE it when I was shopped by my competition (I could usually tell). I would respect the other salespeople so much more when they would come in and introduce themselves. I'd even go out of my way to give them my information. I'm not sure if retail business owners work the same way. I guess all I can do is ask, eh?

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 05-20-2007, 10:01 AM
 
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There is a Yahoo group of work-at-home-moms who own Brick & Mortar stores. You might want to post there about it too. I have posted there a few times and the info is always helpful.

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/grou...ndmortarwahms/

Dana, mom to Avery & Natalie 7 , Cole 4 , and Baby #4 on the way!
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Old 05-20-2007, 03:23 PM
 
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It would be fairly easy to survey the existing store's customers, and ask them if they would be interested in buying the following products .... Have some samples with you, and discuss pricing with the potential customers..

As far as finding wholesalers, there is an interesting article here:
http://cgi3.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl...=imstalkingyou!
about finding wholesale suppliers (and some other things as well). The author has a bit of an attitude, BUT some good info there.
That link isnt working for me Is there another link to it maybe?
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Old 05-21-2007, 12:51 PM
 
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That link isnt working for me Is there another link to it maybe?
try this link, click on "cached" for the first search result.

http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-...alkingyou+ebay
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Old 05-21-2007, 06:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow....that was eye opening! I just went and spent half a day with the woman who owns the resale shop, just to see what type of vibe she has going on in that store. Yikes! She caters to the high maintenance type of mama! They type who has a kid who scratches the HEdoublehockeystick out of my boy's face and then says "oh honey, stay away from my son, he's a monster!". Plus, her kid has poop in his pants and stinks like crazy, and she just lets him run around like that for about an hour making me gag!

Dh is pushing me to stick with the online thing. I like the fact that it would be flexible and cheaper for me, but don't think I would do as well as I would having a physical location. Like I said, so much competition online. I feel like I'd drown. If I could do a store PLUS have an online shop, I think I'd be o.k.

I'm so glad I decided to go in there and spend time checking it out. Plus, was eye opening about her "decorating" ideas for the new shop. She is really into the cutesy/botique style, while I'm into the all natural look.

: : :

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 05-22-2007, 03:25 PM
 
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I'm wondering if I contact these shop owners and ask if we can come talk with them, if they'll welcome me warmly or think I'm up to something? I just prefer honesty.
I'm in the process of opening a bricks-and-mortar store, we're opening June 1st. We eventually will go online, but it was really important to me to be able to meet with the customers and have the products available for them to see in person (particularly the baby carriers and the cloth dipes).

I met with a mama who has a store very similar to mine, but it's in CT. She was VERY receptive, I was sooo glad I was able to talk with her, I learned a lot by visiting.

Good luck with your decision!

--kristin
mom to Simon born 8/30/06
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Old 05-22-2007, 04:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We eventually will go online, but it was really important to me to be able to meet with the customers and have the products available for them to see in person (particularly the baby carriers and the cloth dipes).
I feel exactly the same way. Some of the things about being online are appealing, but I would really not get as inspired not having the face to face interaction. Dh just doesn't understand this.

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 05-22-2007, 04:18 PM
 
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And I agree that the internet is a bit saturated with natural living stuff...we're working on coming up with our own spin to make us stand out from the crowd

--k
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Old 05-22-2007, 04:55 PM
 
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Wow....that was eye opening! I just went and spent half a day with the woman who owns the resale shop, just to see what type of vibe she has going on in that store. Yikes! She caters to the high maintenance type of mama! They type who has a kid who scratches the HEdoublehockeystick out of my boy's face and then says "oh honey, stay away from my son, he's a monster!". Plus, her kid has poop in his pants and stinks like crazy, and she just lets him run around like that for about an hour making me gag!

Dh is pushing me to stick with the online thing. I like the fact that it would be flexible and cheaper for me, but don't think I would do as well as I would having a physical location. Like I said, so much competition online. I feel like I'd drown. If I could do a store PLUS have an online shop, I think I'd be o.k.

I'm so glad I decided to go in there and spend time checking it out. Plus, was eye opening about her "decorating" ideas for the new shop. She is really into the cutesy/botique style, while I'm into the all natural look.

: : :
Have you shopped in her store before? Because if you do, I'm sure some like-minded parents do, as well. How does she "cater to" the type of moms you describe? My experience is that you'll encounter all types in every business, and, for the most part, you pretty much have to accept customer behavior, no matter how inappropriate, if you want to stay in business. There will always be parents who don't parent while shopping; if your son is at work with you, unfortunately, it's part of your job to keep him away from customers and their kids if the interactions aren't appropriate, even if your son is blameless.

The different decorating style could work to your advantage, you know. If you had your own corner in her shop, decorated in your own style, it would really stand out.

My main concern would be the stinky diaper. I know there have been times when a customer has kept me occupied so that I had to wait longer than I would have liked before changing one of my kids, but an hour is way too long. A stinky diaper would be off-putting to customers, too.

I'm not trying to invalidate your impressions, just give you another opinion. Sounds like your experience was a great reminder of some of the drawbacks to retail--you really can't choose your customers. I've occasionally had entire days when all the customers are people I would rather never deal with. I still think this could be a great opportunity for exposure for your business, provided you think you could manage to work with this woman.
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Old 05-22-2007, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for that different perspective. I suppose you are right about dealing with all types of people in retail.

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 05-25-2007, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I got booted! Ugh...apparently, the current store owner does have an issue with my bringing Sawyer to the shop with me. I guess I'm glad I found this out now. So, the only possibility now is my taking her old space over, which is a nice small space (and affordable too). This is stressful! LOL

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 05-25-2007, 09:19 PM
 
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You should take the weekend and try very hard not to think about it. Do some fun stuff w/ your family or whatever calms you normally. I bet it will be easier to sort out if you can start fresh.

I'd say what I think, but you know already. I wish I could do the B&M version. Especially if I could afford it, lol. Just the idea of being surrounded by things I love makes me giddy (and I LOVE the kind of stuff I would stock my store with). Although if you are taking her old space and did it right as she left, you may get some traffic just from that alone, which wouldn't hurt .
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Old 05-25-2007, 11:21 PM
 
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Aw, that stinks! Sorry it didn't work out!

I wanted to post this blog link because I thought she had an interesting perspective on running a shop:

Posie Gets Cozy
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Old 05-25-2007, 11:53 PM
 
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Aw, that stinks! Sorry it didn't work out!

I wanted to post this blog link because I thought she had an interesting perspective on running a shop:

Posie Gets Cozy
Cool link- thanks!
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Old 05-27-2007, 01:33 AM
 
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what an amazingly beautiful site and store. Makes me envious

Berkeley mom of 3 and President of Tender Cargo Baby Gear
and The Nurture Center Store and Resource Center 3399 Mt Diablo Bl Lafayette CA 888-998-BABY
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Old 05-29-2007, 11:58 PM
 
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What would the good, bad and ugly be of having an actual storefront vs. being online?
UGLY!! Been there, done that! I would go the online route anyday!

Vicki- Homeschooling Mama to 4 girls
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