09 April 2010

Indie Retailers : How Can I Help?

Here's the deal. I left indie retail.

I left for a variety of reasons and someday I will probably tell the whole story, but the most important two reasons that I want to share today are 1} I believed {still do!} it was part of the Big Plan for me to exit right at that very moment {not everyone believes in the Big Plan, but I do}, and 2} I believed that I could live a better life, a life truer to my core values, a life closer to my ideal, and be more helpful to other passionate entrepreneurs like myself {including indie retailers} outside of retail than inside. So I closed my store. And it felt good. And every day it feels better as I move deeper into the dream that's unfolding around me.

But indie retailers, this post isn't about me. It's about you. You and the important work you do in your unique stores every day. The work you do for your community, putting yourselves and your livelihoods out there on the line every day, willing your vision to be received and embraced by your right people, your ideal customers. The work you do behind the scenes that nobody sees and almost nobody {or very few} gets or appreciates. Retailing is far from fantasy, right? But you're good at making it look that way. And this, in itself, is what's tough about retail. Life behind the curtain. I get that. {Please tell me where I'm wrong.}

So back to my new thing, Abby Kerr Ink, for just a minute. {Then back to you.}

In a few weeks, I'll be launching my new website and packing it full of juicy, free, helpful content that will support and inspire passionate entrepreneurs like you. Like me. I'm making the kind of site I would want to linger on for hours. And I hope you'll want to do just that once you get to visit! And while I'm making this website and all the content that will go into it to fulfill what I want it to be, I'm really making this website and all my content for you. And not just you indie retailers out there reading, but small business entrepreneurs who love and believe in their niche and want to learn more about working it better {their niche, that is}. Cause my approach is pretty niche-y. I believe in specialization. And I really, really dig stuff that's nichified really, really well.

So lately, when I'm not blogging here or talking with clients or working on projects or on Facebook or Twitter, I'm writing my way into my niche on the web, anticipating the day when I'll launch at AbbyKerrInk.com for all to see. And in the last couple of posts, I've been doing some soft market research to figure out what you'd like to read about. What burning questions do you have? What type of content would nurture you right where you're at? How can I help?

{Enough about me.}

Indie retailers, back to you. If you've been following me lately, you've seen that I recently did a post asking aspiring indie retailers what their burning questions are about getting into the biz. And then I asked artists and designers who want to sell to boutiques to weigh in on their who's, what's, when's, where's, why's, and how's of doing just that.

Today, it's your turn. If you're an indie retailer--brick and mortar OR online--I'd love to hear your answer to this question:

  • What's missing for you from the existing conversation on the web about indie retail/among indie retailers? What do you need? What do you want? What has never been done or written for you that would be so, so ideal?
You can speak your mind 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.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.



alee said...

Thanks Abby for all of your hard work & input :)! As a "newer" shop propreitess I really enjoy reading all the advice I can..Now as I am considering going from just having occasional sales to opening up a store front full time I'm have millions of ques. run through my mind freq.! :)I'm sure I will be checking back in & seeing WHAT advice you are giving :)

Abby Kerr Ink said...

Welcome, Alee, and welcome to indie retail! Hope your experience has been a good one. Looking forward to seeing you toward the end of the month when I make the jump over to my new site, to be announced here when the time comes!

Happy shopkeeping!

Alice said...

Looking forward to the new site and all the great information.

Currently I have a small handmade jewelry business on line, but my big-girl dream is to one day own a shop in our small town.

I love to gobble up information about owning and running a shop.

Abby Kerr Ink said...

Hey, Alice! Thanks for leaving a comment. Heading over to check out your jewelry site. Enjoy your Saturday. :)

Susan said...

I am going into year 19...I have fun antiques and vintage...I would like to find a place where I could easily contact American based wholesalers...and I would like the wholesaler to understand that we have to compete with Chinese made goods, and that 20% off retail does not help us.

I depend on other shop owners for contacts...I got bored with the trade shows...just started to look alike...fortunately the vintage world is ever changing...

So many think a shop is an easy thing to do...not so...mine is 40 feet from my kitchen door...ideal world...even so, I do not want to "play" store!


Abby Kerr Ink said...

Hi, Susan--

Great to see you hear. I appreciate your input as a retailer for 18+ years. You are in the league I truly stand in admiration of!

Wishing you terrific sales this week an I hope to see you over at my new site once it launches. :)


lizzie said...

I guess I am alittle behind the times what is "Indie" exactly mean thanks Lisa

Abby Kerr Ink said...

Hey, Lisa!--

I'm glad you asked. "Indie" is just a shortened way of saying "independent," as in independent {not corporately owned or funded} retailer or artist.

Last Summer I hosted a terrific event at my shop, THE BLISSFUL, called the Indie Girl Trunk Show. We featured local artists from the area. For a deeper explanation of indie-ness, check out this blog post:



Pam and Chelsea said...

Hey Abby, I love reading your blog! My mom and I had a retail store that was full of Furniture, Home Decor and Gifts, as well as a growing Interior Design Business. But....we had to come to the sad conclusion of closing our store early feb. But, with one door closing another opened and we are continuing with our Interior Design Services, as well as our furniture and home decor lines. And now I'm trying to get up and running online. I know you had an online market, could you give me any advice on that part of the business. My one concern....unless someone goes to my website, how will else will someone buy from my site??

Love to hear what you have to say....any advice will be greatly appreciated! Thanks! Chelsea

Abby Kerr Ink said...

Hey, Chelsea--

Glad you found your way here! I, too, closed my store in early Feb and I have to say...sometimes making tough decisions like that can lead you to something even BETTER. I bet that'll be the case for you!

I'll definitely be sharing about selling online on my new website, AbbyKerrInk.com, once it goes live in just a couple more weeks. As with in a brick and mortar store, so much of success online--no matter whether you're in retail OR any other online biz--depends on building relationships with your right people.

IMO, the best way to start doing this is to use free social media, such as starting a blog {if you don't have one already}, starting a Facebook Fan Page for your biz, and using Twitter. There are *tons* of free articles and resources out there on the web that will teach you how to get started on any of the above. For THE BLISSFUL, this blog was far and away the best free marketing piece we had. We built relationships w/local customers and far-away ones and drove traffic to our Online Boutique.

The best way to drive traffic to your blog is to read other blogs that appeal to you and are targeting the same niche or the same right people. Comment on those blogs, visit other commenters' blogs, and put yourself on their radar. Develop *real* relationships around common interests and points of view, NOT just on selling to people.

Best wishes to you and your mom, Chelsea! I look forward to connecting with you again online. :)


Pam and Chelsea said...

Thanks Abby! I look forward to all that your write on your new site. I have had a blog since 2008(i think!) but I could never really seem to get people to follow it. I have heard though, that people do read my blog which is nice knowing that what I write isn't just sitting out there in space! Thanks for the advice, I am going to make sure I post more comments and continue clicking through to others like me!

I was following your blog as you were closing your store, and before. And one of your posts really touched my mom and I. It was when you were writing about the Atlanta Market. We always loved going to Market, and this year it was sad as January passed and we weren't there. And we do hope that since closing the store, moving on will be better.

Best, Chelsea