Folksy Ltd

Has anyone ever run their own b&m shop?


(Sarah Lambert) #1

The winning the lottery thread got me thinking (not that I’ve won :blush:) has anyone ever had a bm shop? I’d love to hear of the pros and cons if anyone has .


(Pauline Hayward) #2

I used to supply a b&m shop about a year ago, which I used to enjoy supplying to. It was a haberdashery and it was perfect for my items seen as I use fabric and ribbons. It was sale or return basis.
I was asked by them too to do workshops there and I found that very interesting and good fun. Unfortunately they closed their shop recently so that was the end of that. They were very good in looking after my things and got some really good sales/ orders from them.
I would go down with my stock and give them my prices of each item that I would expect, they then put their own % on top of my prices.
I’m currently supplying The Dragons Hoard up in Warrington but that’s a little slow with sales but hoping it may pick up when I send them my Christmas stock.
Hope that has answered some of your questions.


(Susannah Ayre) #3

Never had a B&M shop but in my area I think we’d really benefit from a decent arts shop. There really isn’t anything. My nearest city is Newcastle and even there it’s hugely limited. A semi decent art supply shop closed a couple of years ago. There’s a decent one as part of Newcastle Arts Centre but unless you draw or paint it’s not actually that great.
I live in Tynemouth- a little seaside village on the edge of North Tyneside- and I’d love to have a shop/workshop/gallery place. A couple of workshop space places have opened up with collaborative workshops and things going on, but I really do think there’s a place for a truly decent supply place- which actually finds out what people want rather than just orders in generic supplies.
That’s something I’d like to do- but I think that’s partly driven by wanting to be my own boss.

Never had direct experience though- my first job was working in Topshop but that really isnt the same! Haha it was really awful!


(Sara Leigh Thornton) #4

I ran a shop for a year - rented a unit and set up a second hand shop selling other people’s goods on commission. I hated being tied down to set hours! It was fun in a way, but being it was a huge commitment.

I much prefer the self employment I do now, as although I work really long hours, they don;t have to be set to a certain time of the day :slight_smile:


(Sarah Lambert) #5

Thanks Pauline, the workshops bit sounds really interesting, what a shame they closed up. I’m sure you will get busier at Christmas :smile:


(Sarah Lambert) #6

Yes Susannah I’ve been thinking the same about our local area (Suffolk). There are loads of gifty type shops as we are a tourist area but most of the stuff is shipped in from China etc.

The only local artist places tend to be exclusive galleries with eye watering prices.
My local town would be far too expensive to rent a shop in, but one of my favourite looking shops in another town is available to rent so my mind is going places it really shouldn’t be, especially as life is beyond hectic lately! :smiley:


(Sarah Lambert) #7

Hi Sara,

Yes I was thinking about a year’s trial, even if it was to get it out of my system. Did you apply for any grants when you set up?

I’ve had ten years of being a carer and a hectic life and now I get the feeling I’d like to be tied down, if you get what I mean, a bit of routine. :smiley:


(Sara Leigh Thornton) #8

No, I never even thought of anything like applying for grants. I was early twenties, fed up of the supermarket job I was doing after being made redundant from my previous job, and this was back in the early 90s, so no internet to look things up easily or find information out from. A similar shop was closing down due to retirement - I couldn’t take over that business as the shop unit was already under offer for something else, but there were plenty of other local empty small shops (end of the recession time), so I asked the rent and rented one for a year. I was very impulsive back then LOL!

I don’t regret it at all - it taught me a lot, gave me good experience, looked good on my CV (it may only have been for a year, but showed I could start up and run a project) and I did enjoy most of it. I just hated the quiet days (rainy ones!) when it was very quiet and not being able to go out and do things when I wanted to.

If you fancy having a go, then go for it :slight_smile: There probably are grants out there - at least nowadays with the internet it’s easier to find that kind of information :slight_smile:


(Susannah Ayre) #9

Oh but that sounds exciting!! Haha assuming I’m more financially stable in the future (which of course we all hope to be!) then it’s something I’d consider. Location would be a big draw for me though.
Although having said that, I’ve spent a lot of time on the west coast of Scotland and I love it when you can be driving along in the middle of nowhere barely passing anyway and you stumble across a gallery/art/craft shop. I always speak to the owners & they always love it- they always seem to get a surprisingly high footfall and people who’re willing to spend a fair bit of money (as a lot of people passing are on their holidays) but they usually find because of the Internet they make sales that way too. So maybe being on a busy high street isn’t always essential these days- and I’d much rather be in the middle of nowhere! Haha
I think rent is all too high around where I am. Not that many shops stay for too long because of it as well. I would say out of every new shop in my area 50% of them don’t last for more than a year or 2.


(Sarah Stevenson) #10

I started up and ran 2 B&M shops in the 1990s - well, 1989 onwards. I opened my first shop, called Azendi, in Headingley, Leeds, with my sister, then a couple of years later I moved on to open another shop as a sole trader in nearby Otley, trading as Naomi. Years later my sister took it over and the doors finally closed a few weeks ago - over 20 years of trading. Azendi is still trading, under the ownership of my sister’s ex! I does a lot on-line. We had the enthusiasm and energy all those years ago. It’s great being your own boss, but here are some potential pitfalls I discovered: getting a decent location is key; if you get a secondary or worse location, you’ll always struggle. It can be lonely being the boss - don’t get too friendly with your staff, on a social basis, as it can make life very difficult if you later have issues with staff. Spend time researching - do business start up course, use a good accountant and squeeze as much out of them as you can. Keep your shop well stocked always - don’t leave bare shelves/rails - it puts customers off. Don’t have your nose in a book/tablet when customers are there! Be aware that shoplifting is rife. Keep your paperwork up to date. Watch out for the costly banking. Be prepared to work 7 days a week. (I used to do stock runs, pricings, book keeping, cashflow forecasts, stock taking etc at weekends). Join business networks. Watch out for the loneliness. Rent and rates are ludicrously expensive - cashflow forecasting and planning vital. Be prepared for no holidays or days off for considerable periods of time! Try, if possible, to never owe the banks anything. I eventually left retail in 1996, and had a career change to mental health nursing. Now I’m keen on getting back into business, and will be launching a greetings card business soon - in the meantime I’m making jewellery.


(Lowri of Twinkle and Gloom Art) #11

I’d love to open a shop, but realistically I don’t think I could handle it. I just love the idea of designing the look of it all. I designed a shop concept and shop/window display at college, it has a great bit sparkly pink tree bang in the middle.


(Leathermeister) #12

There are shops now setting up who offer alternatives the Yards is one planning to rent out space so the costs are shared couple of examples I am sure there are more and this would also help with sickness cover, loneliness etc.



We have stock in others shops but sometimes we go and actually do the selling I love it but prefer to be making sp its a compromise that works for us.


(Sue Beacham) #13

Sorry to ask but what is a B&M shop, I’ve never heard of one

Sue xx


(Lowri of Twinkle and Gloom Art) #14

@suebeacham It means Bricks & Mortar… I think anyway. A physical shop, not an online one.
It took me a while to figure it out too, the other one that confused me was ‘OH’ meaning ‘Other Half’.


(Claire Mead) #15

I work in a shop everyday and I hate being tied to times so I wouldn’t want to have my own shop in the high street. Plus I can also see just how expensive they are to run and I honestly don’t see how any businesses can manage to pay for everything. I would much prefer to be self employed and see if other shops would be happy to sell some of my items.


(Sue Beacham) #16

LoL Thanks


(Sarah Lambert) #17

Thanks for all the views on this thread. It’s great to hear of people’s experiences and thoughts. I suppose I need to think carefully about this and do my research.

@FloraJones- you sound as though you have tons of experience and I shall keep referring to your advice thanks :smile:

In my favour I know the little town very well, and I know that since Waitrose moved in what was once a ghost town is now revitalised, it actually had the opposite effect that supermarkets usually have. I know the footfall and I know the demographic of the people who use the town. The other shop that sells crafty stuff (wool etc) does well I think, I thought about having a chat with the owner to see if my impressions are correct.

The other thing is that the rent is reasonable, ditto the business rates, and a year paying those costs wouldn’t be too much of a risk to take.

I think though, that by the time I’ve completed my research the little shop will be re-let.


(Lorna Watson) #18

Dear Sarah, I am part of a crafting co-operative and we run a shop in Berwick on Tweed in Nortumberland. We were initially funded by the Mary Portas initiative and we have a committee who run the shop i.e. treasurer, rota organiser, someone for publicity etc.It’s a lot of hard work but also great to make your own decisions. Choose your site well we are on the high street in a busy sea side town with a mainline station. There are lots of grants out there but get a group of like minded people together rather than doing it on your own. Good luck.