I really am wondering about the cost vs benefit of this kind of
secrecy. I can imagine the problems of convincing potential retail
clients that a jeweler should be trusted when that jeweler won't
let the customer know where they can be found.
That really is the crossroad of doing retail from home, isn't it? I
know in my case, that's exactly why I opened a retail location. The
best way to prevent theft is to give no one any reason to think that
there might be something worth stealing. The best way to grow a
business is to make sure that as many potential clients as possible
know about it. The two really don't work well together. I found them
to be completely incompatible.
Having a shop in the home can be a great way to keep expenses low,
but there is a cost. Next to the obvious personal safety and security
concerns, probably the largest problem is the credibility and trust
issue that Stephen describes. The next one is the lack of insurance
coverage available to the home craftsman. Sure you can get it, but
it's usually very restrictive and requires some investments in a
security system and a safe. I think a check of one's homeowner's
policy or mortgage agreement may also reveal wording that forbids a
home business, or at the very minimum limits coverage when there is a
business being run on the premises. Mine did. And then there's the
I would recommend that a home based shop be limited to doing
wholesale work or creating goods that are to be sold and marketed
outside of the home, at shows or online for instance. The risk of
being the victim of a crime is just too high to open it up to the
public. You don't necessarily have to worry about your clientele,
it's mainly the risk posed by the other people that they know, or
even the people that they know, know, that should be cause for
"Where did you get that pendant?"
"I got it from a metalsmith that works from her house, Isn't she
talented? You should see her shop! It's so cool!" I'll have to
introduce you though, she's really careful about who she lets in."
"Really?? Wait til my sister-in-law sees it! She loves that kind of
thing and she'll want to meet her."
Word of mouth at it's best. The part of this story that we don't
know yet, is that the sister-in-law's boyfriend's son just got
released from juvenile detention for assault and breaking and
entering for the fourth time, and tomorrow he's going to overhear a
conversation about a very talented and security conscious metalsmith
creating beautiful jewelry at home. It won't be long until all of
his little buddies from juvey hear about her too. And who knows who
they know that might be interested in that little piece of
or how much the story will have been embellished by the
time it gets to the end-user.
That's the kind of thing that you have to worry about, and unless
nobody knows where and what you do, you have to assume that if one
person knows, everybody knows or can find out. Once it's out there,
there's not a darn thing you can do to control who gets access to
There are also local ordinances that might come into play with the
home shop. In many parts of the US (specifically) there are zoning
restrictions that prohibit running a retail business from a
residential location. So a home craftsperson may face not only an
elevated risk of home invasion or burglary, a lack of sufficient
insurance coverage and a real marketing conundrum, but fines and
other legal action from the local government, if the shop is not up
to code and they ever find out. They can fine you and hit you with
interest and penalties from day one too, in many locales.
The very worst way for them to find out is immediately after a
break-in or even a fire when the police ask for a list of things
damaged and/or stolen and by the way, how come you have all these
tools in here. That's not the best time to find out about insurance
conditions and limits or mortgage restrictions either. The burglary
or fire may actually end up being the easy part if you haven't done
your homework. And unless you hold public office, the fact that you
"didn't know" won't get you any breaks from anyone.
Of course every situation is different, and the things that I face
here may be quite different from what someone in rural South Dakota
is dealing with. Still, there's no free lunch and urban America isn't
the only place bad people do bad things. I put my family's safety and
the security of other people's belongings entrusted to my care above
all else. That's why I don't work from home anymore.