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New Bead Shop-Are We Mad?

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  • New Bead Shop-Are We Mad?

    Firstly, hello everyone-this is my first post!

    Secondly, I must stress I am hoping for help and not trying to sell anything.

    As a bit of background, we are a pretty small online operation. We started selling bits and pieces of fashion jewellery about four years ago but our business has evolved and most of what we now sell is beads and jewellery components.

    We are currently based in Bath, but are looking to move to SE Cornwall (i.e Liskeard, Saltash, Callington area).

    Fo some time I have had an idea to open a retail shop. Because rents are very low in that part of the world, we are lucky that we could find a fairly large "non-prime" retail unit in a secondary street or out of town for very little more than an industrial unit to house the website stock.

    My idea is to massively increase our stock which is currently a bit limited. (I'll be honest-we do carefully import most of our items from a very reputable supplier in China. Not only is it good quality and safe but we also get lots of great feedback and repeat sales. My feeling is this is the only way to compete on price). I would then be looking to employ someone really passionate about beading as I'm a retailer at heart with limited skills of my own.

    Our offering would be obviously a large and browsable selection of beading and jewellery making supplies (i.e the same items available online at the same prices) but then also to have a little "cafe" area where people can meet and chat or even work on projects together. We would also have workshop rooms offering courses for all ages and even childrens' parties as well as offering school holiday classes for kids which we hope may tap the tourist market a bit (i.e. what do you do with your kids in Cornwall on holiday on a "rare" rainy day?)

    Anyway, reading this forum and other places, I understand many shops have closed down and I wonder if maybe I've just had a terrible idea. I do instinctively feel there's demand for this kind of shop and we would be dealing with very different rents to people in London and Brighton.

    I suppose I'd just love to hear from anyone with an opinion on this, particularly if you are in the E Cornwall/Plymouth area or visit the area. As I mentioned, we would also be looking for people to work with us, so anyone interested or ideas on that would also be more than welcome!

    If you've read this far-thanks!


  • #2
    Hi Greg, messaged you.

    Mo. Bodrighy Wood.
    Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage..Lao Tzu.!/AuntieMornie


    • #3
      Hello Greg,

      Welcome, I did a very similar thing in Enfield about 6 years ago and had the time of my life, I loved it compeltely and ran a very similar set up with back rooms carrying out jewellery making classes and a bead shop at the front from browsing and buying. Coffee shop is a nice idea but there are so many health and safety and consumer (nut risk allergy etc.) plus you have the down side of some parents who will quite simply allow their kids to take a sticky cake into the bead area and start touching the beads. In addition if you are busy in the shop, even make a coffee if difficult.

      We eventually sold our house in Enfield and, as the leasehold in the shop came to an end some 8 months after that, we decided not to renew it. We are just in the process of selling the other house in Cheshunt at which point the plan was to move around the Sawbridgeworth(ish) area and open up shop again, however, I am now not so sure because .....

      1. Business rates (this is the biggest problem) are still on the rise (even with the recent budget announcement) they are still going up dramatically and shall continue to rise, with seemingly no halt to them at all.- you get nothing for business rates, they are just an additional expense you have to add to your product offering.
      2. On top of that you need to add, building insurance, indemity insurance (quite high for a jewellery workshop using tools), fire extinguishers etc. need checks every year (additional costs all mount up). Pop on top the additional electric bill (most shops don'g have gas so you will be trying to heat the shop on that electric too which is expensive), rubbish collection (not part of your business rates but charged seperately).
      3. Regarding children's parties, you may find that you need a certificate to work with children (both of us had it at the shop) and there is a choke risk when running them in combination with a cafe (so you will need to make sure you seperate the two in some way to ensure small children can't wander from one to the other).
      4. Out of the high street you may find that no one knows you are there. A high majority of my first time customers said they saw me on the bus passing by, but if you are down a side street they won't ever know you are there. How do your let them know you are there?

      You may find that once you add up all of your overheads the price you have to sell your stock at is well past that of your competitors online (are you going to be able to pull in enough custom at your shop to outweigh the having to put your prices up which includes your online stock, unless you trade online in a different name?) Remember you are renting an off the high street shop which has a reduced rent because you have extemely low footfall and thus walkby trade.

      When you employ someone you shall also need employers liability insurance for them, plus arrange for pension plans etc. which you need to pay someone to administrate for you, then there are the wage slips, tax and national insurance contributions, sounds like you are going to need an accountant (which is another expensive outlay). If you trot over to the UK Business Forum you will find some very interesting threads which shall advise you that (shattering your trust in human kind) when you are employ others in your business you are likely to find they have a minimal interest in the success or otherwise of your business and (in the awful cases... which happen way to offen) they pilfer from you ( a sad but true fact).

      Having said that... some of the best times of my life were in my little shop and I loved it, so why not - if you are will to invest in it and not mind if you loose the cash - I say GO FOR IT Buy yourself happy days with like minded people, happy children's parties and little cafe lunches. Nothing beats working for yourself in an environment you love, nothing at all.


      • #4
        This is all a great help. I'd factored in most of the costs etc (although of course there are always things you don't think of-like fire extinguishers for me!!).

        I'm quite lucky in terms of the fact that I've run businesses before so I'm quite happy doing my own payroll, books etc (look at Xero by the way-it makes it incredibly easy).

        I'd factored in a pretty meaty marketing budget to try to get around the poor location. My feeling was that once people knew we were there, we'd get repeat and referred business. Was this your experience?

        In terms of rent and rates, when I say we're looking at low rent, I've seen one place of around 100m2/1000ft2 at £8,000 per year, which means there's no rates because it's less than £12,000 pa.

        I know what you mean about employing people. I've done it before and had very mixed experiences. I was hoping to find people who were sufficiently passionate about their hobby that they would be motivated by the love of the job. Maybe I'm naive?

        When I say café, I was thinking of a self-serve coffee machine and a fridge full of cans/bottles with some kind of honesty box. Maybe some pre-packaged cakes etc, just to try to get around all the horrible H&S stuff!

        I'm still thinking this one through. I suspect the only way of knowing really if it would work would be to try it, which could prove expensive......


        • #5
          I have been going through a similar process, but with a budget of practically zero to start with - not zero, but certainly not enough to rent a store without taking out a loan.

          My idea was essentially to start up online, build a customer base and trust, before starting to do market stalls, and eventually renting a semi industrial property to use as a 'storefront'. This has been essentially crippled once I saw rates and ground rent in Leicester!

          While not exclusively beads, I'm in a fairly overlapping trade as a lot of my customers are jewellers (beads, cabochons, etc mostly).
          UK Gemstone, Fossil and Mineral Wholesaler


          • #6
            Before I started I ran a worst case senario to see what I would loose if it all went bits up. (i.e.: if the shop failed in the first 3 months, I still had the lease for 2 years, which I could not sell on and therefore had to continue paying monthly rent on the shop (even if I wasn't in it) completely skipped all the stock,fixtures and fittings etc. Then I asked myself if I would be willing loose that amount of money - if the answer in your case is yes, then go for it.

            What I would say is that you can't take it with you. If you have a dream to do it, then do it and buy yourself that life experience, because ultimately that is what life is all about don't you think :-)