Ok, I think we’ve all been there. It’s a Friday afternoon, you’ve been hard at work all week editing product photos, responding to Etsy inquiries and desperate to break out of your studio to get some fresh air when you think to yourself, “Having a storefront of my own would be so much more fun than what I do all day.” Does this sound familiar? You might be thinking “amen sister, how did you know?!” Before you get too excited and start asking me to read your palm or tell you your future, no I am not psychic. I am however, just like you! I run a product based business that I love, but that doesn’t mean I don’t suffer from the grass is greener complex myself. But here is the crazy part… I owned a brick and mortar for years! That’s right. I had a store that I went to everyday, 7 days a week. It was in a historic downtown square in the cutest town ever. Think Gilmore Girls meets Stranger Things – Um, yes they do film this down the street from my studio!
But even now after knowing everything I do about owning and operating a storefront, the ups, downs and difficulties that come with a physical store, I still at times wish I had a brick and mortar again. So before you dive in head first and sign the lease on that beautiful space you’ve been eyeing for months here are 5 things no one tells you about owning your own store.
You’re not only the owner but also the IT guy, janitor, stockist, accountant…
I think the biggest misconception about any business is that it is glamorous all the time. You know as well as anyone that owning your own business means you wear many hats. You are probably the owner, designer, customer service rep and photographer to name a few. Now take all those things you are doing on a regular basis and add to that about 10 more titles. There are many moving parts to owning a brick and mortar and most are far less appealing than you can imagine. If you think keeping your personal studio space clean is hard consider the task of cleaning and maintaining the restroom at your business. And before you come back with, “Well I won’t have a public restroom” or “I’ll hire someone to do that” let me tell you something. Yes you will have a public restroom, It’s required to pass most building inspections. And as for hiring someone to clean… think of how little money you have in your business to hire outside help. Yep, you’re gonna have the same financial constraints with a storefront too.
The customer is always right… in your face
We have all experienced the wrath of the disgruntled customer. You know the one I’m talking about; they can find fault in anything, they are impossible to please, you bend over backwards to accommodate them and they respond with little appreciation and no general human decency. Now close your eyes, try to recall all those hostile and frustrating experiences (I’m sure it isn’t hard), now open your eyes. What?! That disgruntled customer is standing right in front of you? Well, DUH! When you own a brick and mortar there is no hiding behind your computer screen. The sense of security we get from email correspondence is gone! There is no hiding from them. They are in your face and it’s usually not such a great experience. And if you are someone who implores the ever so tempting eye roll, yeah they saw that.
You know the old adage, opinions are like______. I’ll let you fill in the rest…
This can be applied to almost any business but it seems more prevalent in the brick and mortar world, everyone thinks they can run your business better than you. We’ve all experienced it. You’re at your friends house enjoying the first BBQ of the season, you actually managed to get a Saturday away from the shop and as you sip that delicious mojito that makes everything about life seem a little bit sweeter and you hear it. “Hear what?” you might be asking. Oh just the sound of another clueless bystander who thinks they know more about your business than you do. You’re friend Sarah’s husband has decided to bestow upon you his wisdom of the ages. Yes, have no fear! Jim is here to save your business from whatever peril you haven’t managed to foresee. Now let’s be clear about something. Jim is a complete idiot. You heard me. No disrespect to him but when it comes to your business he has no idea what he’s talking about. But here’s where the true problem lies, he is convinced he does! And while you are tempted to knock the grill over to create a distraction so you can get the hell outta there, you don’t. You sit there and listen to Jim spout on and on about how he thinks it would be a great idea for your shop to carry energy drinks (or some other moronic thing) because whenever he goes shopping with his wife he is so bored out of his mind the only thing that can keep him from falling over dead is a giant shot of caffeine and sugar.
When he finally finishes you punch old Jim-bo in the face and tell him to keep his opinions to himself… Just kidding. I was seeing if your still with me. That’s only what we wish we could do. But here’s the thing. When you own a brick and mortar conversations like this are just part of the norm. You gotta grin and bear it because Jim may have been the first, but he most certainly won’t be the last. Maybe it’s the accessibility of your shop or the fact that they have a physical place to imagine when they think of your business but they will always think they understand what it’s like to be you. And from where they’re standing it doesn’t look so hard. But just remember, Jim is an idiot. Hmmm, maybe that should be my new mantra when people start telling me how to run my biz… Jim is an idiot, Jim is an idiot… deep breath and one more time, Jim is an absolute moron who should not be allowed to procreate because the last thing we need in this world are little Jim’bo’s running around. Too far?
Au revoir long lunches and weekends hanging with friends
It should probably go without saying that if you want to start a brick and mortar business then you should be passionate about spending every waking moment at your store. With that being said, when I say every waking minute I mean every waking minute of your existence. Not to be dramatic or anything but this is something that people vastly underestimate. Weekends shopping with your friends, nope. You’ll be manning the store helping out all those weekend shoppers. Long lunches celebrating your BFF’s birthday, think again. This isn’t Europe people, you can’t just close down your shop for a long lunch everyday! Holidays gathered around the table with friends and family, you guessed it! If you are serious about making the moola then you will be open for those last minute shoppers of Christmas Eve and Valentines Day, not to mention those early risers who will be lined up over Black Friday weekend and Small Business Saturday. Half the battle is showing up and making yourself available. Customers want to know that you are always there ready and waiting to help.
No matter what products you carry, they always want the one thing you don’t have
Unfortunately there is no fix for this, it just is. You got a great new selection in of notebooks both lined and unlined, “I only buy graph.” A huge line of travel products just waiting to be bought, “What? You don’t have anything for Missouri?” Check out these amazing new candles, “I don’t like fruity scented candles. Got any with sandalwood?” You can’t please everyone. But you can go out of business trying. There is nothing more frustrating as a shop owner than feeling like you are loosing out on a sale because you don’t have that one product your customer wants or needs. You can’t be everything to everyone. And while this is easier said than done, it’s what will keep you sane in the end. Even I have to remind myself of this, like all the time. It’s frustrating not having the answer for everyone but no one does. And when all else fails, just remember, Jim is an idiot.
So there you have it, 5 Things No One Tells You About Owning A Brick and Mortar. Have any hilarious stories about your business featuring your own Jim-bo? I’m dying to know! Share below in the comments and give us all a good laugh!
Photo Credit: The Zen Succulent