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Going to a brick and mortar site


#1

I am possibly crazy, but I am exploring the idea of buying a store
in our downtown. I looked at two today. The one I love will
unfortunately cost way to much to renovate. It is a wonderful 3
story old building with the original tin ceilings…and a roof that
is about to fall in, which has in turn caused the third floor to rot
to the point that it is about to fall through to the ground floor.
Sigh. WAY too much money and trouble.

The other store is in pretty good shape, good roof, slightly better
location, smaller but still a workable size.

I would love feedback, ideas, thoughts, experiences from the list as
I consider this!

What I am looking at doing is having a co-op gallery space in front,
with an open workshop area for multiple media behind it, and a
dedicated jewelry studio in the somewhat separate space behind that.
I don’t think an artisan jewelry shop would be financially viable
here, but I do think a good co-op gallery with a range of work, plus
workshops, would do well. I’m also playing with the idea of setting
up part of the retail space as a bead shop - there aren’t any in a
range of several counties, and there are lots of hobby beaders…so
this seems like a way to make a bit more income.

So - thoughts? Warnings? Do’s and don’ts?

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


http://bethwicker.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#2

Beth,

Your Gallery ideas sound great!!

It is something I would like to do too.

I would think about allowing the local artists, to display their art
work. That way you don’t have to do very much decorating. Maybe
charging a small fee to sell the artwork for bookkeeping purposes or
volunteer part time in exchange for being able to display that
artist’s work. And you could get other artists to consign their work
too. You also might consider a one day work shop, just to show how
something is soldered, or gem setting, or lapidary work. All are
just ideas that may work for you and the area you live in.

Veva Bailey


#3

Personally, if it were financially possible, I would always rather be
my own landlord. Not that this comes from any actual experience as
I’ve only had rented spaces for my businesses. But my experience
with landlords has led me to believe it would be better.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#4

Its really great to see more people about to take the plunge.

While its certainly not proof it is suggestive that this economy is
not as dire as the media portray it to be. Its not the end of
capitalism, as I’ve heard a few commentators refer to it. No doubt in
places it IS severe, so anyone considering a venture should really do
their homework first. Bright spots are there if you look.

Yay Freedom!


#5

Beth,

In a general sense I think now is a good time. With the economy in
the doldrums contractors are often willing to take less $ for work,
and you may be able to hire for somewhat lower wages as well. I don’t
know how long your build out would be, but perhaps the finish would
be in time to coincide with the economic turnaround.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Henderson, NV


#6

Hi Beth,

My husband and I are considering doing something similar. He is a
painter, and I do jewelry, mosaic, ceramic, etc. Our idea is to get a
space to have a gallery up front, with art studio and art storage in
the same space. We would need a lot of space. Our house is now our
studio and we are totally out of living space! We currently sell our
works in a variety of other venues, but want to take our business to
another level.

I just looked at prices and here in Northern California we can get
space for between $1 and $3 a square foot per month (approximately
depending on location, and store front vs. industrial, of course).

I’m wondering if we are crazy, too! So I will be looking forward to
others responses to your post.

Good luck and thanks,
Michelle
Michelle Vidro / meeshka jewelry


#7

Beth -

There is a local artists’ cooperative gallery near me, and it seems
quite sucessful. It requires each member (within a geographic area)
to buy a share in the cooperative, and perform weekly duty there
(docent, clean, run the sales counter, etc). The share includes a
reasonable monthly fee, and the members also pay a portion of the
rent in months that sales commissions are short. (The rent is paid
from a portion of each sale, no matter whose work sells or doesn’t.)

I considered joining, but since I could not do the weekly service
and I was at the geographical limits (within, just not quite far
enough away to be a guest artist), I had to pass. One thing I did
notice about this gallery is that they are far more into painting and
ceramics rather than jewelry or metalwork. All the jewelry was
underpriced (by my estimation) and didn’t really look ‘finished’. So
I wasn’t upset that I didn’t qualify. I’d rather have my jewelry in a
place where everything is well-made and worth the price being asked.

Another thing I have seen recently is a local gallery with a
convenient window had one of their artists (basketweaving) sit in the
display window and work on her complex baskets. This was during a
weekend art show in that part of town, and there was generally a big
crowd in front of the gallery when she was there.

If there are no local bead shops, you will probably do well. One of
my lapidary club members owns a bead store (only one around for 20
miles). They also teach beading, stained glass, wire weave and other
classes.

Good luck to you!
Kelley


#8

We are in the midst of setting up a similar operation here in
Lincoln, NE… I am a looong time bench guy for several local and
chain stores and have a modest following of customers for repairs and
custom pieces. My daughter is a recent graduate of the Revere Academy
and is getting started making a lot of original funky design pieces.
We will be doing a bunch of repair, selling our own original pieces
and also carrying the work of some potters, photographers, and other
jewelers on a consignment basis. We have also taught a few beginners
classes at the local JC and will be doing some more of this in very
small groups in our store shop. We found a good space in a lively
neigborhood business district right next to a small college. Right
now we are less than 2 weeks from opening our doors. The initial set
up is daunting but we are really excited to get going. For me, after
working for so many years for other people who have shown me all the
wrong things to do this is really liberating to finally be in control
to some degree.

charlie


#9
Maybe charging a small fee to sell the artwork for bookkeeping
purposes or volunteer part time in exchange for being able to
display that artist's work. And you could get other artists to
consign their work too. 

I would hesitate on the part-time-volunteer-work in exchange for a
chance to show in your space. I have been a volunteer in that
situation and have found that not all volunteers work as hard as
others. They also try to sell only their art, instead of being
generally helpful in all the duties that come with working at a
store. In my opinion, it is not to the benefit of the other
artist/volunteers, nor to the owner of the store. It wasn’t worth it
to me, so I left those situations. Disclaimer: the several spaces I
have tried this at were run by non-profits. Perhaps if you tried
that sort of thing you could put into the contract that they need to
be a good (albeit unpaid) employee. Remind them that they are paid
with the opportunity of having work on the wall.

Jackie
Jacqueline Bell Johnson, dba.
www.sylasstudios.com


#10
There is a local artists' cooperative gallery near me 

While in San Diego some years back I saw this exact model, but as an
artisan jewelry store. Each ‘member’ got a case to display their
work - approximately 6-8 members? - and they all shared in the
counter duty. There was always a bench jeweler on duty. I suppose
the group could hire PT sales if needed. I do not know who was
invited in or how; presumably whoever started the venture rallied
several like-minded jewelers to get it going. Questions include what
an initial investment would be. I did notice no one promoted their
own work. If I hadn’t asked I wouldn’t have known it was a co-op. It
was similiar to all those mall-ish antique stores with multiple
dealers.

I really like this concept. Two sticking points: getting like-minded
people (and I mean stylistically, ethically, work-ethic-wise, etc.,
etc.), and, how do people leave the arrangement when they want.

Pete


#11

This brings to mind the shop in Los Angeles (Venice and Santa Monica
I believe) called Ten Women. It’s an all woman co-op of artists.
Seems like a great idea, but yes Pete, I think personalities need to
be considered, as well as artistic styles.


#12

For all of you in the process of, or thinking about, opening a
bricks and mortar store here’s a little cautionary tale to consider.
It’s not a reason not to open, just a reason to make sure you do
everything right.

Last week there was a fire in the basement of the building next door
to ours. Our wall abuts their wall (we’re in a city) and while there
wasn’t a huge amount of actual fire damage in their building, there
was a huge amount of smoke generated, which poured into my store as
well. Consequently I walked into my store last Wednesday morning to
find a store that completely reeked of smoke. Got on the phone and
called my insurance agent (Lesson #1: Have a good insurance policy)
who told me that I should go ahead and call a clean up company and
get them started and that the insurance company would be contacting
me shortly. Called ServiceMaster (Lesson #2: Have a list of
emergency service companies readily available in the event you need
them) and managed to get a crew out the same day. Had to close for
two days while they cleaned the place out (Lesson #3: Have enough
money somewhere that you can survive some down time for your
business because stuff happens that is completely out of your
control). And I still have to pay my deductible (it’s not an at
fault fire—just an accident) to the insurance company (Lesson #4:
don’t leave yourself so short of funds that you can’t cover
something like this and Lesson #5 take a long, hard look at your
insurance policy’s deductible so you know if it really is a
reasonable amount—sometimes increasing the deductible to drop your
rates is not always the wisest thing to do).

So have some backup funding at hand at all times and don’t cut
corners on things that may not seem like necessities but truly are
(insurance).

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#13
This brings to mind the shop in Los Angeles (Venice and Santa
Monica I believe) called Ten Women. It's an all woman co-op of
artists. 

There is one in Chicago too-- “Woman Made”. Truthfully, I object to
the prejudice involved. My litmus test is, if you trade "white men"
for something, would it still be OK? If not, it is prejudice. So if
you would object to an all white-men gallery, you should object to an
all woman one. I would say there is an exception when the style of
the work is related to the maker, i.e., Inuit art or Pueblo art. Then
it is not prejudice to limit a gallery to people with those
characteristics. Or organizations more broadly. But women’s art is
not distinct from men’s, so the exception does not apply.

Noel


#14
There is one in Chicago too-- "Woman Made". Truthfully, I object to
the prejudice involved. My litmus test is, if you trade "white men"
for something, would it still be OK? If not, it is prejudice. So if
you would object to an all white-men gallery, you should object to
an all woman one. I would say there is an exception when the style
of the work is related to the maker, i.e., Inuit art or Pueblo art.
Then it is not prejudice to limit a gallery to people with those
characteristics. Or organizations more broadly. But women's art is
not distinct from men's, so the exception does not apply 

Given your post Noel, you may disappointed to hear that there is the
"Woman’s Show" put on each December in San Francisco. Only women are
allowed to exhibit. A woman friend who has done the show told me
that her husband could not help at the show during show hours, but
was allowed to help with the set-up. I don’t know if men are allowed
to enter and purchase. I’ve never tried to attend when I lived in the
area. How’s that for payback.

KPK


#15

Hello,

Truthfully, I object to the prejudice involved. My litmus test is,
if you trade "white men" for something, would it still be OK? If
not, it is prejudice. So if you would object to an all white-men
gallery, you should object to an all woman one. 

I agree with this. To my mind is smacks of reaching new heights by
exclusion. Isn’t the goal to be inclusion? While in the military
there was a Women’s Month, Black Month, Hispanic Month, Asian/Pacific
Islander’s Month. but none for me. While living in Los Angeles I
heard a woman call a radio station to a lawyer who had a show. She
was being laid off and wanted to know what she should do. The lawyer
host suggest she tell her employer she was going to write the state
equal employment board, and that though it probably wouldn’t stop her
from being laid off, it would probably result in her getting a better
termination package. The host went on to say that if anyone was
female, homosexual, any minority, handicapped, old, etc., that they
should do the same thing. I’m none of those. I guess I don’t rate.

As I said, isn’t the goal inclusion and equality? Do we promote
inclusion and equality by excluding those that aren’t “us”? I would
argue that we don’t. Diversity isn’t exclusion. If you exclude me
then don’t cry in your pinot noir when I don’t support you.

Skill and ability should be the divider.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Henderson, NV


#16

Hello Beth,

Hey, if you’re going to buy a building, take the one in better
condition. The last thing you need while working on getting your
business running smoothly, is to have roofing problems… or
plumbing problems (BTW, have the service line “rodded” out when
rehabbing)… or a sagging foundation.

One distinct advantage I can see to the older 3 story, is that it
might be a historic building. In that case, and you can get it
registered, there are financial incentives available - at least that
is true in KS. Still, you really don’t need more headaches. Is there
any chance you could have a living space above the shop?? That
concept is coming back into vogue in designing sustainable
communities. Something to consider that might justify buying and
sinking $$$ in the 3 story.

Let us know what you decide,
Judy in Kansas