Monday, February 08, 2010
Finding a Balance...
I wasn’t expecting my last blog post to spark-off quite the debate that it did – but I thank you for your input! I really just wrote the few lines to express my thoughts at the time, but the comments have made me think that I need to make up my mind quickly, before I end up upsetting, annoying or generally getting people in a tizzy! My shop’s opening hours have been a huge dilemma for me and I have been round and round in circles in my thinking. I could make a very long list of the fore and against of opening/closing on certain days, but having been open now for three weeks I feel I am at a point to know how best to proceed…
I went to see Sue at Dairy House yesterday and we had a long chat – also whilst I was there I was able to talk to Chloe who has a lovely antiques shop in Romsey, and who just happened to be at Dairy House shopping too. Whenever I speak to shop owners, they totally understand when I say I need to be closed for 3 days in order to have time for finding stock. (Chloe is only open for 4 days a week.) I also had a very sensible comment from Kay on my last post; and it does seem to me that other shop owners can fully appreciate where I am coming from regarding getting the balance right between treasure hunting and being open to offer the goods for sale.
Unlike your ‘average’ shop, I cannot get on the phone and order several boxes of stock from a wholesaler and have it delivered to my shop’s door the next day. Searching for antiques/vintage goods is time consuming. Also, finds often need to be laundered and pressed, perhaps repaired, and generally cleaned up a little before they can be offered for sale.
During the short time that I have been open, the end of the week has been my successful selling days and have already set a pattern that Tues, Thurs, Fri and Saturdays are the best ones….I know its very early days and things could easily change, but at the moment it isn’t worth me driving over to Shepton Mallet if my petrol costs and lunch aren’t even going to be covered by takings! (Closing half day on Wednesday would therefore be of no benefit.)
You need to know that Shepton is not a buzzing town that is busy with shoppers – if it were, then I would be less reluctant to close, but until the regeneration really takes off, it will only be the odd person walking past that I may be able to entice in…(I would consider opening for longer/more days if Shepton does move on to be the town it once was…) Spring/summer may be a turning point and a time to reevaluate again, so I’ll just have to see…
Also, Wednesdays are generally antique auction days, so to have the time to visit them could be useful. Sunday will always be my best buying day as I have a long list of outlets and contacts built up over the years.
At the moment I cannot afford to pay for someone to cover my not being at the shop; besides, the added employee’s insurance (a lot more than public liability) and other bookkeeping that I would need are additional bills that I don’t want right now! Running a shop is a very costly exercise and it would be very easy to make no profit at the end of the day unless care is taken to minimise outgoings.
Having another day at home may also mean that I can start to list a few pieces for my on-line shop again…Talking to my landlord this week, (who happens to be a very successful entrepreneur, so I value his advice)- he feels that retail has changed over the years and so it is very important for small businesses to be more than just an open shop, and to have other outlets for making up the shortfall now that less and less people are shopping on the high streets…Fairs are another thing I want to do as well.
Giving the right impression to the visitors to my shop is very important to me. If I can’t keep my shop stocked with the right merchandise, then there is little point to me having it. It is vital to me to have the pretty items that I love, that are also generally affordable, on offer for sale. If I haven’t much time to search for new stock, or to sew, then it will become a mish-mash and won’t work.
I have heard from several people when I’ve spoken to them about my shop hours, that other shops such as ‘Girls Own Store’ in Bridport now only sell ‘new vintage’, as the owners can no longer find the time to search for vintage goods. I don’t want to get into that situation. I know from having a shop around seven years ago, how much harder it now is to find the lovely vinategy pieces that everyone wants. There are far more people chasing the same things these days, especially in the South West!! I now have to travel longer distances in the hope of finding the right merchandise.
Belinda and Wayne of No21 are working together in their shop, so can give each other time away from it to perhaps buy and also work on the other sides to their business…doing everything myself means I need an extra day to source/sew/and design. I have always been a hardworking person and am happy to continue in order to create a small business that works for me and my customers.
I had to close my first shop seven years ago because I felt it was impacting on family life too much…I have sacrificed a lot for the happiness of my family over the last 22 years and now I feel it is time to make me happy -so getting the right balance between my new business and the other things that are important in my life is imperative. But most fundamental to me is having a shop that I can be proud of; to enjoy being there and to offer its visitors the things they want to buy. I am very content with how things have gone so far and who knows how things may change in the future - I may need to adapt again, but for now I’m going to do what I think is best for the survival of my business and in creating the prefect nostalgic environment.
I could go on and on, but I do feel I am concluding that I need to have Wednesdays away from the shop as well. If people like to shop at the beginning of the week, then they can visit me on a Tuesday, otherwise Thursday, Friday Saturday will hopefully continue to be my busier days…
The photographs that accompany this post are some of the items that will find their way into my shop over the next week.
Posted by Niki Fretwell at 1:55 pm