01 April 2010

Aspiring Indie Retailer? Please Opine!

Dreaming of a life selling lovely things?

Are you an aspiring indie retailer? Dream of having your own shop someday? Quietly researching and planning while you ride out the economy, finish your education, build up enough money in savings, wait for your kids to get into school, hit on the one concept that just feels right?

I'm working on future content for my new website--to be announced as soon as it's live!--and I'd love to hear your take on this question:

  • What one or two topics related to the start-up/running of an indie retail shop are you burning to learn more about before you jump in?
Please note that burning could mean most curious about, most befuddled by, most confused about, most obsessed with, or most attracted to.

Your input will be greatly valued and taken into consideration as I shape the content for my new site, which is geared toward creatively entrepreneurial types, with maybe a sliiiiiight penchant for indie retail types and others connected to the boutique industry.

Imagining your own boutique's name on this sign? You're exactly the person I want to hear from.

You can contribute your opinion in one of three ways:

1. Leave a comment on this post {please tell me if you don't wish for me to publish it}.
2. E-mail me at abby AT abbykerrink DOT com.
3. Tweet me @abbykerr.

Thanks and I look forward to meeting up with some of you in blogland!

P.S. Established retailers and artists who want to sell wholesale to boutiques, hang on! I have questions coming for you, too. {Scribe's Note on 4.9.10: Both posts are now live! Click on the links in this paragraph to go directly to them right now.}



Ebony Robinson said...

Hello Abbey,

I was turned on to blog by a new friend and new potential business partner. We plan on opening a boutique together Summer 2010. One of the things that concern me is the ability to be more crteative and outside the box thinking when it comes to traditional retailing (which I owned in 2003) I love the idea of niche, indie retailing but I want to provide an instore service as well as a product...what are your thoughts.

Abby Kerr Ink said...

Hi, Ebony--

Oh, this is SUCH a good question. It's kind of the heart of my new business model, too, so I really like it. :)

I am convinced that most successful {$$$$$$} indie retailers ARE successful in large part *because* they have a strong niche and they're committed to serving their "right people" {their ideal customers or target market} through staying true to that niche and finding ways to go deeper and deeper into it. It's really hard to be memorable when your vision is all over the place and you're trying to be a "something for everyone" store.

So often I'll go into a home furnishings or a gift store and walk out saying "eh" and it's usually because the merch mix is all over the place and the vision is unclear. The store is playing it too safe, trying to appeal to that middle ground, and not making any niche statement at all.

It's okay--and really smart!--to hone in on the ONE thing you want your store to be really good at. What do you want your store to be known for? What types of merchandise or types of services really excite you and put your natural talents and inborn expertise to best use? These are big questions and well worth thinking about. They can take a business from run-of-the-mill to over-the-top addictive and extraordinary. And they can make you money.

As far as a store selling products AND providing an in-store service...I say yes! yes! yes! You are right on the money there. Of the retailers I regularly speak with, the ones who are faring the best in this economy {and growing their customer base by leaps and bounds} are the ones who are known not only for their great merchandise but ALSO for their great, unique, fun, useful service offerings: whether it be crafting classes, custom gift wrap, in-store seminars, hosting charity events, etc. Getting customers involved at a hands-on, brain-turned-on level is very smart.

Glad you wrote! Looking forward to seeing you over at AbbyKerrInk.com when the site launches.

Be well and have fun! :)


Ebony Robinson said...

Thank you so much for the advice. It was fabulous. I've been thinking about providing a service for my boutique for a minute but wondered if the two shall ever meet and i strongly believe they should. It's the one thing big retailers lack great service. It's funny I've been pondering this thought, even running it by my business partner and to my suprise I was having coffee at Seattles Best inside Borders, and looking for some good reads when I noticed two young girls obviously studying with a infuser teapot, fit for a long night. I was intriqued so I asked about the teapot and they said is was a "tea service" for only $2.95 for one or six cups it's doesn't matter. i was impressed and look forward to using the service. Thank you for the insight. I can't wait to visit and use your new website.