Folksy Ltd

Studio/retail unit opportunity - should I go for it?

Many of you may know that I have gone through some life changing experiences this year and as a result gave up my business as a chiropodist and moved 200 miles south to live near my family. I have found myself in the position of being unemployed and have to make a decision as to what to do next,
Today I was offered the opportunity of taking on a small studio/retail unit for a not totally unattainable price but need to decide whether to find employment and continue selling online/at craft fairs or take a risk and see if I can take my felting business to the next level.
I wondered if any of you lovely folk have got any advice for me - I know some of you have taken that leap of faith. I’m not expecting to make a million but if I could make a small profit I think I would be happy. Should I go for it or should I accept that crafting will never earn me a living and continue doing it on a part time basis and find a ‘proper’ job? Are there any grants I could apply for?

I am not very good at making decisions at the best of times so feel I need some level heads to advise me!

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Hi Roz - exciting time for you :sunny:
they say - Lifes too short ! if you dont do it whilst you have the opportunity you may regret it at a later date? i think the first thing to consider is how long you have to commit to the unit - if you can rent for example on a six month let then a rolling contract where you only have to give one or two months notice will take a lot of stress away as opposed to having to commit long term. will you be selling from here or solely a workshop? as you do craft fairs then i’m probably saying what you already know … but good regular passing footfall should be a high consideration. will you be open every day are you able to work from there - if not will you have enough time at home to make enough stock to fill your unit. the good bits to consider is that the general public are much more appreciative now of handmade items and supporting and shopping from a small local business. your work is beautiful and you appear to have good sales and following on here - good affordable opportunities do not come along very often so if its in your budget and conditions of rental are right for you - why not give it a go? if you google small business loans i believe that conditions of these are online. I wish you every success and please keep us updated. - Jan x

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Morning Roz, my question is why not? and if it doesn’t work you can always get some part time work to help out. I don’t think there are grants out there anymore. Perhaps only ones for setting up new businesses or taking your business in a new direction (ie offering workshops).
Your work is beautiful and good luck

Hi Roz, a long time ago, I had a little craft unit. Lasted just under a year and made no money at all, but I was still glad I did it because I learned loads and would always have wondered “what if” had I not done it. We didn’t have the internet then, that’s changed things a lot now. You could still sell on line, then your shop in an additional business. Might as well be sitting in a shop making, listing and promoting than doing it at home, although it depends on how much the shop is costing you!

It is so hard to earn a living just making and selling that if I did it again, I would think about other revenue streams as well. Such as listing on-line too while I was in the shop, offer workshops or lessons, sell supplies, rent out a bit of space to other crafters. I’d want it to be a place where there was always something going on. Notice board for crafty customers, coffee mornings, plenty of making. That’s my ideal shop, might not be everybody’s!

If you are at a crossroads in your life anyway, I would say go for it. Make sure of the terms of your lease, understand exactly what you are signing up to. I apologise for random brainstorming and wish you the best of luck whatever you decide!

Amanda xxx

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A few questions spring to mind:

How much would you need to sell in order to cover your overheads?
What is the passing trade like?
Is parking easy?
Can you run workshops from there?
Do you sell enough variety to fill an entire shop?
Can you put billboards up outside to entice people in?
Would you consider running it as a coffee and craft shop?
Can you make and sell at the same time in a watch-me-work/demonstration type way?
Is there anyone else who would be willing to share the shop space or set up an area as a gallery for others on commission?

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Thanks for the responses - still mulling it over but am oh so tempted and as you say Amanda @plumporridge and Jan @JDCrafts if I don’t do it I might always be saying what if. Thanks for the encouragement too Rachel @GreenwoodMakes

The unit is in a shopping village next to a historic house with plenty of parking and a coffee shop. It is not huge (approx 120 sq ft) and is offered on a one month rolling contract (for both parties) so I could escape fairly quickly if it all goes wrong!

I love your idea of a craft shop @plumporridge - not sure there would be room for coffee mornings etc though.

Selling supplies could be a way forward or making up some kits, which I have been thinking of doing anyway. Once the instructions are written they wouldn’t take long to put together. I do worry a bit about whether I would have enough time to make more stock although I could dedicate an area of it to making when times were quiet - probably couldn’t manage to make scarves there but could do small bits of felt, needle felting and making up of items - bags, clocks, notebooks etc in situ. I have thought about the possibility of workshops and again it might be something I could do on a one to one basis - don’t think there would be room for more but could do it when the shop was shut. I would ideally like to continue with my shop on here as well but would have to see how that would work. My sister is an artist in her free time and has been looking for ways to sell her work so I have suggested that I could give her some wall space and take a commission.

Stephanie @StephanieGuy - think we are singing from the same hymn sheet as they are pretty much the questions I had!

I am going with my sister on Saturday to spend a couple of hours in the coffee shop to observe demographics and footfall so will take it from there!

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I’ve recently taken the leap - in June. Our units are little “pop up” sheds although I am permanent in mine but with a 2 week exit if I ever want to. We’re in Chichester on the south coast which is a busy town and foot fall is good.

It’s worked really well for me and I’ve been surprised by how well actually! I share the space with a ceramic artist and continue to sell online so I’m not relying totally on the shop for sales.

Not everybody has had success though, some shops just don’t make sales while others do but unless you try, you’ll never know. If you can put a plan in place and work out exactly how much you need to take on the extra outgoings for the shop etc then you should know pretty quickly if it will work.

Best of luck with it if you do take the leap. I’m so so glad I did but also know it doesn’t work for everybody xxx

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Go for it! I once did a pop up shop in a craft centre, I did it on and off for a couple of years, sometimes up to 3 weeks in a row, there were quiet days when I sold nothing, or very little, and days when it was heaving and still didn’t sell much, however, at the end of 3 weeks it was most definitely worth it. They closed it because other artists let them down. I was very sad, I didn’t want total commitment to a permanent place at that time.
Kits are the way to go, and also cards! Would it be possible to do small pieces of wet felting with beginners to get more money per hour? And sell them a kit as well? Have a book, and take people’s emails and ideas, and when your ready offer classes, maybe in the evening, or a quiet morning. And don’t work 7 days a week, allow one complete day away…
I’m so excited for you :blush:

On a one month contract I’d definitely go for it. Plan plan plan first, do lots of social media stuff to count down the opening and have a few opening events - prosecco and nibbles one night, a free demo one night etc. I’d also have a permanent display of how you do your felted scarves to show how much work goes into them and also get some leaflets printed up with a how-it-was-made section, people will love to give those along with the scarves as it adds that truly personal hand-made touch. It’s a great time for it with Christmas coming up, good luck!

Glad it is working out for you @LucyWithDiamonds - nice to hear success stories.

Oh dear Stephanie @StephanieGuy - looks like I’ve got lots of work ahead of me if I decide to go ahead!

Sue @SueTrevor I did a “pop up” shop in Norfolk for a week last year and am doing it again at the beginning of October. It worked well for me last year - it was only for a week but at least I made a healthy profit so I know given the right audience I could make sufficient sales always assuming I could keep the stock levels up!

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I sell some of my finished knits , some supplies (needles etc) and some kits in my local crafty shop. The shop itself is a cross between a yarn / haberdashery shop and a shop selling crafters finished items.

Just so you can see it from another perspective.

Normally when the shop owner sells anything of mine she takes 30% commission. If I work in the shop she takes zero commission. Which means between us we can usually keep it open quite a lot! and then obviously get more sales. Maybe you can rope your sister in to working in the studio/shop when you can’t? If you decide to sell other crafters finished items then you will feel responsible for keeping the studio/shop open as long as you can.

We decided to sell yarny supplies some 9 months ago , getting in touch with our local yarn supplier and buying in stuff at wholesale prices. These sell well and just about cover the rent.

We have an area at one end of the shop where we can sit and work , sewing machine on a desk and chair to sit on. That’s about it.

We have a table that we can get out and do small mini workshops and tutorials. People are always happy for our help.

Its a fun environment and better than working on my own at home. I do get a little destracted though but its brilliant to see and talk to the people that buy your work. You get more of an understanding of what they like and what will sell.

I think you have to take your heart out of it and look at it with your business head on.

Firstly how much is it going to cost you every month to rent the space. ie can you guanetee you can sell enough and more to pay that cost?

How secure is it from brake ins. Does it have security of any kind ie security personal at the over all sight at night. Does it have large lockable gates etc etc

Can you afford the libilty insurance if you are having customer attend.

Can you afford the insurance for the unit ie if its broke into etc etc.

Location ie is it somewhere easy for customer to get to and find you, does it have customer parking area?

There is a lot to think about and look into before making a decision.

Can you offer shelf room for other crafters and take a commission on their sales or a rent for there area.

all the best with your research. :smile:

Can I ask where you get your insurance for your items left in the unit (for fire and theft) @LucyWithDiamonds - I have PPL insurance but not anything else at the moment.

The Market Federation does a good insurance package. Are you any nearer you decision Roz?

Good luck in your new venture. I envy you because that’s one of my dreams to actually run my own business away from my house. The problem is where I live there are so many shops opening up and then closing down again within a short period. I know your only renting this so its not as bad as actually buying a place. I’m sure you’ll do very well.

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Thanks Rachel @GreenwoodMakes, will look into that. Still waiting on some proper figures from them before I can make a decision. Was going to sit in the cafe today and see what sort of people visit but have had to put it off till tomorrow or early next week - probably just as well as it is tipping down here today so I doubt there will be many visitors! I’m also waiting to hear back from a co-operative that I applied to which may be a better bet if I get accepted. I would love to have my own little unit but it may be better to see how things go within a co operative before I take the plunge. Decisions, decisions!

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Just thought I’d let you all know I have decided not to go with the studio unit. I decided in the end that perhaps I was trying to run before I can walk and think it may have been too much of a time and money commitment.
I have found a couple of small craft shops that rent out shelf space for a reasonable price and think I will give them a try in the run up till Christmas - if they don’t work at this time of year they never will!.
My heart still wants the unit but my head says now is not the right time so I’m going to be sensible!

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Best of luck with it all Roz. I hope you will let us know how it goes, it must be very exciting. Amanda xxx

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@OrchardFelts good luck with your new outlet :slight_smile:

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All the best Roz :smile:

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