Starting my own shop - Part Two: Six Lessons Learned

Six Lessons Learned

I've learned lot over the past few months but these are some of the major things.

Unpredictable – Park View is predominately a season shopping destination. When it’s sunny people come out and stroll along the street. We get people coming from as far away as Cramlington and Gateshead. One lady had made a detour from her trip from Liverpool to Alnwick. However, we still did a really good week when the snow first started in November and people couldn’t get to the likes of Newcastle town centre. One thing is for sure you never quite know how many people will walk through the door because as soon as you try and trace patterns another variable will raise its head such as a craft fair or major event such as the Royal Wedding. You have to be thankful for busy days and take the rough days with the smooth.

Avoiding – The best thing about still working full-time and having shop managers is that when the sales calls come through. I learned very quickly that it is best to have their query written on a bit of paper for me to bin more often or not. Those who need to speak to me such as my energy supplier, phone company, bank etc all have my mobile number. Everyone else gets the cool reception of a manager who doesn’t have the remit to make the kind of decisions they are after. For example we have had requests from various companies including fire extinguisher suppliers to PAT testing and utility suppliers to charities. The problem with charities is if I gave a prize to everyone that came through my door I wouldn’t have any stock to sell. Again having the distance means that I avoid these kind of requests. I happily donate to charities I want to in my own good time.

Spending – I’ve learned to factor in duty and VAT to my international purchases just in case I have to pay for it. Wholesale also doesn’t always mean the best price or they hold the amount of stock that you need in the more stable items. Going straight to the supplier also saves you money. Finally, before buying things always think, what value is this adding to my range, how does it fit in with what we’re selling. Make sure you don’t pigeon hole yourself into one market. If I only had beads and findings I wouldn’t have made the money I have done on jewellery bought in and home-made or the jewellery stands and boxes or my lovely hand-crafted goods.

Competition – A month after opening a competitor opened up five doors down from our shop. I admit I was very worried especially since I knew she had had a shop previously which had done quite well. The up shot is that it isn’t scary at all. It’s a good thing. She’s moved more towards dress making and haberdashery where I’ve moved into more specialised areas of jewellery making. People come to Park View because they think I will definitely get what I want between those two shops and it seems to work for both of us!

Staff – I love both my shop managers to pieces and whilst Katie is no relative unlike Sarah Jane who is my cousin. It does very much feel like a family business. Neither the less I have had to learn how to reign one of them in and give another room to grow in their own right. It’s hard and tough but because we get on so well it’s great. I would like to increase the amount of staff I have but its very much baby steps at the moment. I’m not sure I have the time to watch over more bodies at the moment either.

Community – I’ve been trying to figure out what defines my shop. As I mentioned I had a lot of funerals to attend last month but what was lovely is the nice emails I got from our loyal customers wishing me well and telling me how much they love my shop and what I offer. I'm becoming more involved with local business, the council and societies such as the Brownies and Girl Guides & Cubs and Scouts.

Whilst I've learnt an awful lot I still have lots to learn. These lessons have pointed out a few things I need to do over the next six months.

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