Opening a seasonal craft shop is a lot simpler than you might think

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Can you picture those Halloween shops that are only open the month of October? Have you ever wondered how they manage to get a prime space without a long time commitment? It’s called a “pop-up shop” and it’s not too late to open a pop-up craft shop to feature your work and that of other artists you know. With a growing awareness of the “Buy Local/Buy Handmade” movement, the time has never been better to organize a temporary storefront. It’s a lot simpler than you might think.
You can get a shop of handmade, local gifts up quickly and for very little investment. Here’s how:
  • Find a space that’s in a good foot traffic area and has been vacant for awhile. Contact the landlord or property management and tell him/her that you are interested in a temporary lease. Go in knowing that you are expected to negotiate. Normally, a temporary space doesn’t pay the usual common area maintenance and other fees known in the industry as “triple net”. In exchange for paying a lower than going rate, you’ll be asked to agree to vacate with 30 days notice should they find a longterm tenant. If you’re only going to be open for the month of December, you’ll likely just pay a flat fee and possibly a security deposit. Now before you dismiss the idea thinking, “Oh, I don’t have that kind of money”, I’m gong to tell you how you don’t have to come up with most of it alone.
  • Make a list of all the artists, crafters, makers and bakers you know and invite them to join you in a monthlong craft fair. Let’s say the rent on the space is $2000. If there are 10 of you, you’d each only have to come up with $200. Ideally, there would be 20 or more so you’d divide the rent and have more variety. Make sure make sure the participating exhibitors represent a diverse selection of categories and price points.
  • You can handle managing the store in a few different ways. Each artist can be responsible for manning her own booth, you can divide the responsibilities of and hours among you or handle the shop-keeping yourself and charge each artist a percentage of their sales.
  • There are a few general things you’ll have to take care of but they can all be done in a day or two. You’ll need to:
  • Secure a resale permit which allows you to collect sales tax
  • Call the local municipality and find out if you are required to obtain a business license. If the space has had retail in the past, this shouldn’t be a major undertaking.
  • Also find out if you are permitted to use a banner or some other temporary signage and hire a quick-sign maker or make a more artsy sign yourself.
  • Rather than spending money on standard store fixtures, be creative with your displays and use objects from around your house, from nature or from flea markets and garage sales.
  • Opening a shop might seem like a major undertaking but if you view it as a temporary craft fair, it will feel less daunting and more fun. And remember, if it’s super successful and you love it, there’s always the option of keeping it open year round.
Here are a couple of other ideas on selling handmade for the holidays.
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