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Old 04-05-2010, 12:09 PM   #1  
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Do you think it's because your area can't/won't support one? Do you think it's because the previous stores were poorly run? Is stamping itself on its way out? Perish the thought!

I've been toying with the idea of opening a stamp shop for a few years now. I constantly see people asking about stamp shops in the Philly area and there are none. There used to be a couple, but now they're gone, and they have not been replaced. It's tough to even find a "real" art supply store.

Yes, I know there are a few little shops out Lancaster way, but they're really not convenient for city shoppers.

I was thinking about doing some real research until I went to the ScrapStampArt (or whatever it's called) Show at Oaks last week. Only 17 vendors showed up. There wasn't even a dedicated paper supplier, and there are usually at least 2 at the local shows. Now, I did notice that the booths had LONG lines up to the cash registers, so there's at least some demand in the area.

Any thoughts?
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:34 PM   #2  
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Well..
My LSS closed in Jan..
It was definitely d/t lack of support..
Still bummed about it..
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:46 PM   #3  
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I think you have to have stock to appeal to different people.
The Scrapbook LSS here is really struggling bad. She caters to scrapbookers and stampers really don't shop there. Its hard to make it on selling just openstock paper.
She also has a crop on fridays

Now the stamping LSS is doing good. There are so many different products there. Many many different stamp lines including Whiff Of Joy, Sarah Kay, Stampscapes, Stampin Bella and so many more that anyone that walks in will find stamps to buy. There is wood and clears stamps. They also cater to scrapbookers.
Then the tools and markers and copics and die cutting things for different machines.
The have all different classes and recently started their own stamp line.
Also - they get NEW products in. This is a big thing for alot of people.

I really think you need to have to appeal to stampers and scrapbookers and keep in new up to date products. Hold classes. Ask what your customer want.
You will have a good shot at it.
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Old 04-05-2010, 01:18 PM   #4  
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phunkymama.....I attended the same stamp show in Oaks, PA. There were only 17 this year, but 22 last year at the very same location. This year there were several new ones and several of the ones who attended last year were not there.

As far as the show in Oaks, I think it is a sign of the times as it seemed that many people were being very selective in what they were purchasing. I on the other hand used the opportunity to make some major purchases that I can't get locally. I'll shop at those shows rather than over the internet.

I am looking forward to the show this weekend in Allentown, PA.

As far as local craft shops (not sure what LSS means), the one near me just recently closed, much to my regret. But I think that in that instance it's due to having AC Moore and Michaels so near. Within 25 miles of me there are 3 AC Moore stores and 3 Michaels and 1 large JoAnns and 2 hole-in-the-wall JoAnns. So how can a local craft shop compete with that......they can't.

Again, I miss the local shop since there is no replacing personal service from the Crafter Owner!!

Patti
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Old 04-05-2010, 01:31 PM   #5  
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LSS = local stamp/scrap store
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:20 PM   #6  
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I am looking forward to the show this weekend in Allentown, PA.

As far as local craft shops (not sure what LSS means), the one near me just recently closed, much to my regret. But I think that in that instance it's due to having AC Moore and Michaels so near. Within 25 miles of me there are 3 AC Moore stores and 3 Michaels and 1 large JoAnns and 2 hole-in-the-wall JoAnns. So how can a local craft shop compete with that......they can't.

Again, I miss the local shop since there is no replacing personal service from the Crafter Owner!!

Patti
Hey Patti, are you going to Allentown on Saturday, or Sunday? I'll have to look for you.

Are you missing Rubberbuggy (she was awesome!) or White Swan?

You're right about the big box stores. I have at least 3 Michaels nearby in KofP, Conshy and Montgomeryville--but I'm sure you're aware how painfully limited papercrafting supplies are. Same is true of ACMoore. I'd read how others had picked up Tim Holtz dies there. I went to the location at Broomall, and they didn't have a thing! They were stocking new things at the JoAnn in Springfield, but I didn't find much that turned me on, other than the Cordedinations cardstock by the sheet.

Sigh, I'm sure the whole store thing is a pipe dream. I'm assuming the reason all of the stamp stores have failed around here is lack of customers.
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:25 PM   #7  
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I am lucky to live in a city with quite a few stores still open even though MANY have closed. It's a combination of the economy, consumer habits, owners retiring, high strip mall rents and many more factors. Just makes me cry every time a store closes.
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Old 04-05-2010, 03:44 PM   #8  
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phunkymama....We're going to Allentown on Saturday. Too long a ride 3.5 hours from S NJ to go on Sunday. We stay for the whole day.

The AC Moore stores near me have a lot of the new Tim Holtz dies (not my style).

I have no idea who Rubberbuggy or White Swan are.

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Old 04-05-2010, 04:25 PM   #9  
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Well, I live in the Bronx, and we've never had anything. We just recently got a Michael's, but no scrapbook or stamp stores. I guess most people don't think there are many crafters here, but that's so not true. There were 3 scrapbook stores that were within 45 minutes of my house, but they all closed during the same month (October '08 ). Two of the stores had nice, friendly owners, but the third one was another story. The owners weren't friendly, and I honestly didn't feel as if they really valued me as a customer. They just wanted my money. Every time I shopped in there, I felt as if they were expecting me to steal something. I was very uneasy. I envy those of you who have great local stores. Enjoy them while you can.
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Old 04-05-2010, 05:01 PM   #10  
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We have a small lss in town. Just one and it's combined with a school supply store which is the only reason I think it is still in business.
I have worked in the media industry for many years and I can tell you
One BIG reason I think many lss fail; are because they don't stock enough variety, and also never have frequent sales or coupons to keep their frequent customers feeling appreciated or coming back.
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Old 04-05-2010, 08:04 PM   #11  
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part of the issue here is to be a valid store usually requires the store to have long hours and the stores are usually fairly small and don't have many employees. They don't need a full time person to work there and hiring someone for a couple hours a day or just a handful of hours a week is pretty hard. I have had friends who did stores for a while, but it's some real dedication for these ladies to be tied down for 6-10 hours a day for 5-6 days a week, every week. It doesn't take but a few years before most of the people I know get burned out. They may be making enough to get by, but they are rarely making enough to hire full time staff. I had one friend who started putting her stuff on line and found out she was making more selling it on ebay and online than she did at her store!! she finally just closed the doors.

Miss the stores. We are left with 1 full store, 1 part time store here in Austin area.

I am sure the economic situation has also greatly hurt the industry. Crafting is likely one of the first costs that many people would take out of their budget when money gets tight (LOL, not ME of course, I might start eating Ramen noodles......)

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Old 04-06-2010, 02:47 AM   #12  
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Personally I try to support the stamp LSS here as much as I can.
I will pay full price for Nesties from them VS for cheaper price online.
I buy all my Flower Soft, Saray Kays, Whiff Of Joys, Sugar Nellies, Northwoods, Stampscapes, Magenta and a few others from the LSS. I also buy the CB folders if I can when I am there.
I would rather pay a bit higher price if it helps keep them in business.

And again I love going there as they ususlly have something new everytime I walk in.
And their hours make it possible for me to go right after work or on a Saturday.
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Old 04-06-2010, 03:59 AM   #13  
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phunkymama....We're going to Allentown on Saturday. Too long a ride 3.5 hours from S NJ to go on Sunday. We stay for the whole day.

The AC Moore stores near me have a lot of the new Tim Holtz dies (not my style).

I have no idea who Rubberbuggy or White Swan are.
I forgot you were in S. Jersey. Rubberbuggy was in Strasburg, near Lancaster, and White Swan was in New Castle, DE.

While I'm up in Allentown, I usually go by Dick Blick to pick up the huge sheets of chipboard and bookboard, Prismacolor pencils, gel medium, etc. Like I said before, it's hard to find an art supply near me. There is also a Tandy leather store up there, but although I'm tempted, I really don't need to add another hobby right now.
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Old 04-06-2010, 04:09 AM   #14  
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We have had 2 open and cose in a short amount of time. I do not think that the owners invested (more than money) into the business. Merchandising is important! (maybe b/c that is what I love) Train your staff... you need people who know what they are talking about or willing to find out. Have classes! if it were me I think that I would test myself with an online store/ kit club. See if I am able to stir up some traffic there. That is lower overhead and if you get soem kind of business online hopefully it can help with the overhead while having a B&M.

I'll keep quiet now... so I dont ramble

Oops.. Also peoples store hours make me laugh! the 10-5'ers I understand that you do not want to live at the store... but you want to make money? .... try 11-7's maybe ... still gives people time to come after work, when someone is there for the kiddos, lunch break, etc.
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Old 04-06-2010, 04:20 AM   #15  
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I had a LSS when I first moved to this suburb of Indy two years ago, but they closed last year. They were heavily scrapbook focused, with very little else. A nice place, but I'm certain they couldn't compete with the Archiver's in town.

Now, an hour or so south of me, in the town of Nashville, there are two stamp shops located on the same strip! Papertrix is awesome! Wishful Thinking has an unusual selection as well. But Nashville is a tourist destination, so maybe they do well there.

I enjoy web shops, but brick and mortars are fun, too! In my dream world, I'd open my own shop and play all day!
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Old 04-06-2010, 06:24 AM   #16  
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a few years ago we had 3 local scrap stores, we are now down to one. ( it is strictly an paper, stickers punchies store ) in about that order... they refuse to get spellbinders dies, they refuse to carry 6" paper pads for card makers, you have to beg them to order 1/16 pop dots, etc etc etc.

I go in and try to support it but its hard I need more paper like i need a new hole in my head.. because they are not getting any thing new it seems like its not worth the bother to stop in, the staff is great. ( the owner is never there ) but the staff has no control over the merchandise or the ordering so... the owner wants everyone to come in and buy what she put out to sell rather then her listening to what people ask her to carry and buy that so she could make better profits... (everyone i talk to says they have asked the store to get spellbinder dies for instance)

I after many years of mental debate have decided I would not enjoy owning a stamp store because, ( I have an play to win personality) so, i would never have time to create and enjoy it all it would become work and I don't want to give up the one fun thing i do for me.
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:19 AM   #17  
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I think this is a hard time not just for LSS, but really for any small business. I think if you want to do it, I think it is possible! There is a small LSS a bit north from me and it must do fairly well as it's been around for a while. Personally, I think 2 things would really help any LSS - 1) also having an online store. This helps move more of the product that is already on the shelves and in inventory anyway, would let people who visit the shop from out-of-town still order and gets the name of the shop out more and 2) having workshops/crops/classes helps both bring people in and helps them spend on the things used in the class!
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:20 AM   #18  
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I sure don't recommend it. None of the stores I have visited in recent years have had many customers, and that includes the scrapbook stores. The time demands on the individual are enormous, especially if part-time help is not affordable or classes are offered evenings and weekends.

One store I recall from the 1980's was partially stamps, but the other part, a big part, was the personalizing of items. There were acrylic boxes, for instance, that you would order to have a name hand painted on. The wait time was probably a week or less. (Perhaps there was someone doing it on the spot on Saturdays.) It seemed to be very popular with people, especially those looking for unique kids' birthday gifts. There were times I bought stamps for my kids while there. I guess what I am saying is that you may need to attack the market with two weapons, not just the stamps. Personalized items (names, monograms, initial) seems like a niche that may not already be taken.

In the small town I lived in back then there was a store with half the space devoted to stamps, but the rest was the town video rental and liquor store!
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:49 AM   #19  
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I would like to support my LSS more- I only spend about $100 a month at my 1 and only real LSS because I can gets things delivered right to my home quite a bit cheaper - sometimes without having to pay tax and also without shipping cost quite often. I realize real stores have overhead which makes them jack up the prices compared to an online store but money is money and I want as much as I can to keep in my pocket instead of stores. I also have to drive 45Min (35Miles) to the only LSS, my tiny and worthless J's and then I have 1 Big Lots and 1 Ollies but I impulse shop too much in those stores so I stay out of them. I Love online shopping- save money for buy more depending on the mood and in 1 short week I have my stuff at my front door ready to play.

Truth is if my 1 LSS kept up with the times, with buying trendy items, along with keeping popular items stocked I will buy more there I am sure. Every time I enquire about things like when will you be getting more Distress Ink/Paints in- I am told we are getting a large ink order ready to send in-- but I have been hearing the identical thing for 6 months- so now I roll my eyes and walk away-- My 2 year old said the other day in front of the owner after I asked and was told the same thing for the 50th time, my DS said "Bla-Bla-Bla heard that before" I lost it laughing- he looked up at my all innocent and said Mum-ma I told the truth right- and I said "Yes -baby-- you told the truth all right, I love you for it" The owner was less then pleased but I am so tired of the same excuses over and over and we get no new product just excuses.

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Old 04-06-2010, 08:17 AM   #20  
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I am lucky and live in a city with a lot of scrapstores but we also only have a few Michaels to compete with. We don't have Joanns, or Hobby Lobby, Archivers etc. In fact I only know of Michaels but here in Canada they charge more than the local scrapbook stores! So I do all my shopping in scrapbook stores and rarely go to Michaels!
Plus the scrapbook store gets in all the latest things, and has an awesome clearance section!
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:49 AM   #21  
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It's the economy In these tough economic times, and people making major cuts in their spending and watching the pennies, the last thing on some lists are crafting and scrapbooking/staming supplies. I personally know the previous owners of one of two LSS's we have here in town, and they sold it after many years. They went from making a ton to barely making even ~ sold it when it was just staying above cost. The new owners are super sweet, completely changed the venue of the store and now cater to more needs of crafters (new items, etc), offer tons of incentives with crops & game nights & everything in between, BUT, the census is still down. The other LSS (predominately stamps, not scrapbooking) is one of the sweetest owners on the planet! She runs her own store, in fact, partly due to cost overhead to hire someone - the store, in fact, had to relocate and downsize due to cost and previous location (rent, etc) and is now in a far out kinda area that is not convenient to get to or "on the way" - it requires a special trip and is a bit pricey for that special trip. I used to go x3 a month, but I haven't been there since August I actually purchase more online than I do at my LSS's because the deals are better and most of the time my purchases qualify for free shipping.

One thing I've learned in small businesses is that bringing your own people, like friends, family, colleaques, you have a better chance at a good start than starting out on your own and hoping advertising & word of mouth will bring people in. That helps, too, but in the beginning, free is good!

I have a few friends that are doing pretty well with online stores - maybe that is an option rather than an actual brick & mortar type? Just a thought
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:05 AM   #22  
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The closest LSS to me is about 45 mins away. There is are a few PaperSource stores near me, but they don't have a huge variety of things.

I think there are few important things
- Make sure it appeal to stampers and scrapbookers
- Always get the lastest "hot" items, don't let your inventory get stale
- Classes, Amuse classes are popular, as well as Copic. I think classes that are based on a brand are more popular
- Customer Service. I find that the staff at some stores really only interact with people they know from classes and such and ignore "casual" shoppers.
- Hours - make sure you have both Sat and Sun hours and at least 1 or 2 nights during the week that you are open late. It seems like some stores think that only SAHM stamp and scrapbook and/or want 9-5 type hours for their stores. I can never go to one store bc it is only open M-F 10-4. I have heard good things about it, but those hours are horrible
- An online store is a a good idea too
- Marketing! - have a newsletter, frequent shoppers program

I think for you location would be key. Where in the Philly area would you think of opening one?
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:30 AM   #23  
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- Always get the lastest "hot" items, don't let your inventory get stale

I think for you location would be key. Where in the Philly area would you think of opening one?
I a major issue facing small, independent stores is inventory. I have a feeling that many product manufacturers require large orders/reorders. I know at least one of the nearby shops purchased inventory through a distributor. That may alleviate the requirement for a large order, but then you're at the mercy of what the distributor stocks. If they're behind the times, or out of stock, so are you.

I own real estate in King of Prussia. It's currently residential and rented out, but it's zoned for retail, and it's paid off, so in a sense, overhead would be quite low.
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:11 AM   #24  
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I a major issue facing small, independent stores is inventory. I have a feeling that many product manufacturers require large orders/reorders. I know at least one of the nearby shops purchased inventory through a distributor. That may alleviate the requirement for a large order, but then you're at the mercy of what the distributor stocks. If they're behind the times, or out of stock, so are you.

I own real estate in King of Prussia. It's currently residential and rented out, but it's zoned for retail, and it's paid off, so in a sense, overhead would be quite low.
I'm not sure if alot of them require large order. I think alot of them know that they are selling to small LSS and they can't afford to have a large inventory. Just offhand I know Unity Stamps require $100 min order and a Qty of 2 (this was on their website). I would maybe start emailing some companies and find out what their order requirements are.

I think King of Prussia would be a great location, I know when I come home to visit my family and friends, I would make a trip there to shop!
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:38 AM   #25  
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We have small Joann's and Michaels and one small independent craft store that never has sales and her prices tend to be higher than the other places. There is a hole-in-the-wall LSS in a nearby town but it has nothing stamping related. I buy adhesive, cutting blades and the occasional seasonal paper pack locally, otherwise I shop online. The nearest Hobby Lobby is in the next state over in Boise, Idaho. No AC Moore here either.

Our town leaders love to tell us that we should all "shop locally at small independent businesses". But those small businesses have been closing and leaving town for years. Business fees and taxes are high in Oregon and a lot of businesses simply don't want to jump through all the hoops and pay the higher costs.

A nearby city has a small mall that's slowly dying, due to high rents and the economy. The main anchor Gottschalks department store, Walden book store, pizza, candy and Mexican food places recently left and you can't buy an espresso in there anymore. I'll bet it's Hallmark store goes next. It's depressing.
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Old 04-06-2010, 02:47 PM   #26  
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We have not had one in years and years. There was one at our local mall, but stamping didnt seem to "catch on" around here at that time. It was a really nice store, had nice stuff, but I was not stamping at the time either , could not afford it. I find many good deas l online, and support them all the time. It would be nice to be able to go to the store and get some of this stuff, but I never have to wait too long, so it will do. I have thought of opening some sort of scrap/stamp kind of place in our area, but I don't think it would do very well at all. Economy is too bad yet.
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Old 04-06-2010, 05:06 PM   #27  
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Quote:

Originally Posted by maryroseView Post
I had a LSS when I first moved to this suburb of Indy two years ago, but they closed last year. They were heavily scrapbook focused, with very little else. A nice place, but I'm certain they couldn't compete with the Archiver's in town.

Now, an hour or so south of me, in the town of Nashville, there are two stamp shops located on the same strip! Papertrix is awesome! Wishful Thinking has an unusual selection as well. But Nashville is a tourist destination, so maybe they do well there.

I enjoy web shops, but brick and mortars are fun, too! In my dream world, I'd open my own shop and play all day!
I love Papertrix! My husband takes me at least once a year and lets me spend a small fortune. The store is tiny but is packed full of new and cool stuff. They (husband and wife) really know all about the product they are selling. And a lot of it is items you can't get in your "big box stores". That is the kind of store I would like to have.

I have two ladies in my stamp club who go to a scrapbooking retreat in Nashville every year (they are cardmakers) and they always make several trips to both stores, but Papertrix if their favorite also.
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Old 04-06-2010, 05:50 PM   #28  
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I will tell you why the stamping and scrapbooking stores have either closed or are closing and forgive me if I sound bitter but I managed a scrapbooking/stamping store for 14 years. My store closed 8 months ago at the same time that the only other store in my area closed too.

The industry pretty much shot itself in the foot. To many trade shows and conventions, flooded product markets, Big Box stores that smaller Mom and Pop stores couldn't compete with. The industry got greedy. After 14 years of learning the ins and outs of store ownership, its NOT an easy business. Appealing to all kinds of customers is frankly, impossible. What some customers like, others won't. No matter how much product you carry, some customers will complain you don't have enough, or you don't have what THEY want. while others will be overwhelmed.

NO one store can carry EVERYTHING. Stores are limited in space and believe it or not, budget. To have product just sit on shelves doesn't do anybody any good. Store owners also have lots of overhead including CAM's (maintenance of the building, parking lot, trash pick-up etc.) plus electricity which includes heating and air conditioning and this is on top of rent.

And I forgot the cost of fixtures. Then too are employees to pay, unemployment insurance, accident insurance if some running, unsupervised child hurts himself in your shop.

I know first hand what its like to own a store based business and NO thank you. I wouldn't want it.
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:02 AM   #29  
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I completely agree with Sheysd1. I managed LSSs in a prime market for about two years, and even the best closed. It's not just the economy - that was 5 years ago when the economy was good.

While I think a few LSS WILL survive, here are a few (additional) reasons why they usually fail:
1. Capital. It all comes down to money, and how much you have to invest. With the big-box stores in every market you either have to:
-have such a large inventory the bigger stores can't allot space to
-or have a super-tight, very specific product set (and this means you can't branch out since you're focusing on a very core group of customers that will want the latest and greatest ALWAYS)
-AND you have to price-match (either with sales, coupons, or everyday pricing)
*Yes, I totally agree that quality and knowledgable staff are worth paying a higher price. However, even millionaires are budgeting these days, so pricing is a huge issue.
2. Knowledgable staff, this means hiring people who will need to make more than minimum wage usually. These women/men will have to work evening hours - another turn-off for mothers/wives/etc.
3. Business sense. I don't mean anything against you, but most LSSs fail because they're Mom & Pops who don't know how to run a full-time brick and mortar. Accountants, marketing people, etc. - the big boxes have them and smaller stores are wise to have them as well. However, that goes back to capital.
4. Location, location, location. Rent is expensive, but that doesn't mean the small stoes can rent a small spot somewhere fairly inexpensive. The reason the big boxes ARE the big boxes is largely dependent on their locations. I go to Michaels when I go to Target - they're right next door. Simple as that.
5. Selection. Even the tightestly-focused store deals with this. Stampers need cardstock. But textured or flat? Bazzill or another company? All the color families or just some? 12x12, 8.5x11 or both? Even something as simple as ink pads can become crazy with the choices out there. The marketplace flooding certainly had a HUGE hand in the LSSs closing down.

I don't say all this to scare you away from doing this, but I've seen so much heartbreak from owners that I'd hate to see that happen again, anywhere. It CAN be done, it just takes an enormous amount of capital, time, research, and hard work.

I wish you all the best.
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