Shop Owners - How Do You Stay Alive?
I'm passionate about shop ownership. Owning a small business with a constant stream of foot traffic, whether that be a restaurant, creative firm, or a retail storefront, is hard work. Freelancing from home in your jammies is one thing, but when you have a storefront, you have to be on your game from the moment you turn the key in the morning to the second you step foot into your home that night. It's not all ice cream and cupcakes, unless of course, that's what you happen to sell.
You may notice on decor8 that I often write about indie stores, many with mini tours of their space so you can see what they look like even though you may live thousands of miles away. I come from a family of business owners, right down to my parents, who once had two restaurants and a day spa. And although I'm charmed by the whole experience of small business ownership, especially a retail storefront, I know that reality is much different than the dream of being a shop girl. That's why I write about these stores, to show my support and to hopefully stir a need in you to either shop small businesses more, or at least, refer your friends and support local stores when you can. I shop both large and small, but in the end, it's the corner shop experience that I enjoy the most.
London and Paris are my favorite shopping destinations. As the British Pound grows stronger, London becomes less attractive from a shopping standpoint, but I still shop indie when I'm there for the sake of supporting shop owners and walking away with a bag of rare finds. A large part of the appeal of such cities is the local arts scene, and along with that, these privately owned boutiques give them their charm. Boutiques keep the tourists coming back for more. Why cities aren't more supportive of independant retailers is beyond me. Replace them all with CVS and Dunkin' Donuts, and let's see how many tourists drop by in the years to come.
Unfortunately, high rents are driving so many indie stores out, only to be replaced by retail giants or expensive housing. Nowadays, a good shop is increasingly hard to find. Let's face it, when your city becomes trendy, your section of town the 'next big thing', it's as scary as it is exciting. Some people I know say that when the big developers start coming in, they know they're screwed. Sounds a bit harsh, but that may be true. If you're a shop owner just making the rent, and suddenly your lease isn't renewed because the building is turning into condos, or it can be renewed for several hundred dollars more a month, your life can change overnight. When rent soars, your area becoming the next big thing suddenly lacks appeal. As the money moves in, creatives can feel a bit uninspired to do anything more than return to their 9-5 to sustain a 'normal' life, giving up shop ownership and their dreams. But this isn't meant to depress you, so let's look at the options. You don't have to close up shop.
I ask you shop owners, is there a way to maintain an independent store amidst the clone wars? Let's see what others are doing.
Storefronts alone are so expensive to rent that some stores have to double up with others to afford a single space. Tivoli Home in Brooklyn sells gorgeous Scandinavian wares both online and at the popular DUMBO General Store Cafe & Bar. This is how owner Kenneth, keeps his dream alive. And owner Holly Waterfield of Camp on Perry in the West Village shares space with real estate agent, Richard Florke of The Rural Connection. Where there's a will, there's a way...
Continue this series by clicking here or simply scroll to the next post: Frau Zimmer (Shop Owner: Collaborate)