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Topic: Community Crafting Shop (Advice/Suggestions?)  (Read 723 times)
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Joined: 09-Jan-2006

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« on: October 10, 2006 04:27:52 PM »

So, I've thought of this, seen it mentioned by other Craftsters, and then had the idea voiced by my own mother. All completely independantly. Now I'm wondering what it would actually take to set something like this up.

I want a craft shop. Badly. I want to sell supplies. I want to display the work of local artists. And, more than anything, I want to create a place where people can come together, take classes, and share ideas. I want a space that people can consider their own personal craft room. I want people to come in and be comfortable bringing in their friends, children, parents, just to visit.

I'm not sure what the best strategy would be. Perhaps start off with supplies, books, and classes on a few popular crafts, and then add as people show interest? What crafts would you enjoy doing in a public environment?

I'm also thinking of a vaguely tea-shop, cozy decorating theme. Do you think this would feel to formal for people to be comfortable?

Help me! I want this SO badly!

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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2006 02:13:09 PM »

It's easy to want things! You have to, however, have a plan if you don't want to go broke.

Start with overhead first. Just having a space will cost you money. How big of a space? Location? What will the utilities cost?

What do you need in your space? Everything from a phone/fax/computer to flooring to shelving to craft and other possible tables/chairs like for sewing perhaps. Will you provide machines for people to use for sewing, cutting, etc.? Do you need a sink area or special disposal for glue, paint, whatever? What does it all cost and what will the monthly maintenance be?

How will you manage classes, and what will the classes be? This requires organization and scheduling, and if others will be brought in to teach/learn, how will you arrange payments back and forth, and will they come through the mail, website, or what? How will you find reliable people to come in and...be reliable?

Liability insurance and property insurance. What happens if someone cuts off their fingers in your establishment? What happens if a fire/storm/boogie man destroys all your stuff?

Do you have a line on suppliers to sell their "stuff"? What kind of "stuff" will you sell? With all the things you want going on, you'd have to be pretty large to carry all the possible things people might need and want. You have to decide on a plan of action there.

These are just some things you have to think about before you dive in.

« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2006 02:36:49 PM »

Along with the business issues CraftyChef brought up, how do you know that you will actually enjoy doing this? Trust me, if you hate what you are doing, even if you make money it becomes a very unhappy place to be.

Perhaps before you take the big plunge, start slowly by teaching craft projects. Many of the big box craft stores, AC Moore, Michael's etc are always looking for folks to teach craft classes. This would be a good way to see if you like teaching/leading a group. You would make some money and would begin getting some face/name-recognition with many of the local crafters.

Many community colleges also offer continuing education classes that involve making things. These classes are highly popular and will also give you exposure and a little income.

Have you ever worked in a retail/public service position? Trust me, not everyone is cut out for dealing with the public. I would strongly suggest you look into working for someone else (they have all the risks - you do all the learning) at a shop. If it is a smaller shop, you never know, if you impress the owner they might bring you into the business or even teach you how to open your own. I once was given such an opportunity, but unfortunately it was too far from home to commute and didn't pay enough to set up my own place.

I hate referring from one forum to another, but a knitting forum I visit has a section for Shop owners and aspiring businesspeople. That forum mainly focusses on yarn shops, but you should be able to learn a lot from the folks there.

Don't let our answers squash your dream. We just want to make sure you see the reality of what you want to do. It will be a lot of hard work, sweat, and tears before it becomes profitable and is much more difficult than playing hostess and sitting down with friends to stitch and bitch.

Also a few things CraftyChef didn't mention...payroll (surely, you don't think you can run this all by yourself), how much capital do you have, do you plan on rounding up investors, how will the proceeds be divied up, tea shop adds a whole host of food-related issues (health inspections, licensing, stainless steel sinks/cooking areas, steaming hot dishwashing), how much do you plan on spending for comfy furniture...

If you are truly thinking about all of these things and have already done what I suggested at the beginning of this post - I strongly suggest getting in contact with someone who can help you with a business plan and maybe even getting funding. If you are in the US, look and see if you have a SCORE office nearby - they help small businesses for free. Also check your state college system, I know GA has some wonderful programs for small businesses (if you live in a neighboring state they also will work with you). Also check your local community college as many offer classes on business plans, starting a small business, getting grants, and a whole host of other things you're going to need to know.

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