How you can open a shop with minimal cash outlay or commitment.

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Have you dreamed of opening your own gallery or shop of handmade crafts? So many artists and crafts people confide in me that they always wanted to open a shop to sell their own pieces and the work of other crafters but they think they need to have a ton of capital and be willing to commit to a long lease. Is that you?

If you are anywhere between a little timid and downright terrified at the idea of a big commitment,  this is a perfect time to test out your dream with minimal financial risk. Here’s why:

Retail spaces in many parts of the country are at a near record vacancy rate and landlords are anxious to bring in some revenue so they are more flexible than ever. Often they are willing to do a temporary agreement for a limited period of time rather than sit with an empty space, no income and a big mortgage.

If you know of a space that you believe would be a good location for you, particularly if it’s been sitting vacant awhile, consider approaching the landlord with the offer of a “pop-up” shop.

Here’s how that would work. You offer to pay two months upfront. (Remember, you negotiate for a lower rent than asking.) You commit to Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and see how things go. You can either do a month-to-month agreement after that, with a first right of refusal if he gets an offer from another prospective tenant, or once you see you are successful, commit to a longer lease. So, where do you get the cash to pay two months ahead if you don’t have it? Simple. Start out by renting walls and shelf space to other artists and crafters. This is different than a co-op. You keep control. ( There are lots of different formulas to do this and I can help you figure out which way is best for you if we do private coaching. )

If you do have access to the rent money, you still have the option to carrying other artists’ crafts on consignment rather than have to purchase all your inventory outright. I discourage business loans but I do believe in using credit cards to purchase merchandise IF you are very careful to only purchase as much as you believe you will sell by January first.  Remember that the wholesale shows are after the first of the year so you could start strictly with consignment and that gives you two months of success and cash flow. Then you can go to a trade show and begin gradually adding other artists.

Those of you who’ve worked with me know I’m a HUGE believer in starting small and building on your success.

I do have availability for three more one-to-one clients this fall so if a pop-up location sounds like a great plan to you, contact me HERE and we’ll talk about how I can help you get started.

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