Many dealers open a vintage store
to improve their overall business. If you're a dealer, you might be considering that idea right now. It might feel like a natural progression.
There are many things to take into consideration before taking the plunge.
I had a vintage store north of Detroit in the early 2000's. When the bottom fell out in 2008, the Detroit area was hit hard. Honestly, I wasn't happy before that.
This is my story
I wanted a place to store and ship.
My online sales had taken over my home. So, I got a 750 sq. foot shop that was less than a half mile from home. It was perfect. I was more open by chance than regular hours and we had daily UPS pickups from the shop.
Bigger is always better, right?
Things were going well. We moved to a larger space, on a high traffic road, with an apartment we rented out over the vintage store. We rented with the option to buy and our rent would go towards the purchase price. What could go wrong? As we found out, plenty.
I have the patience of a gnat; I should have known I'd hate sitting in a shop all day.
Bigger shop + busy road = more open hours. Yet I was still bringing in more money online.
I rented out some store space, but I wasn't good at managing other people.
I expected them to do what I felt (at the time) were common sense
(there is no such thing in business) things. Replenish their stock and pay for their space each month. I now know I was not prepared for what I was taking on.
I wasn't a good leader. My focus was split between the physical store and the online store. I thought being diversified was good, but my attention was all over the place.
Buying opportunities walked in all the time, but it was just more work for me.
People would bring in what they thought was worth money, and when I would ask what else they had, I'd usually end up making a house call. This added more hours to my week, or I closed up the shop to make the call.
The mailman was a nightmare.
He absolutely HATED coming in to get my packages. Most drivers have a route and would be happy to tell you when to be ready. Not him. All of his shirts had the sleeves cut off and he almost ran me over going 30 miles an hour on the sidewalk in front of the shop, while Stairway to Heaven blared from his postal truck. He was such a jerk, I knew he had to be doing it to everyone on the route. As a long time Federal employee, this guy wasn't getting fired. It sounds silly, but it was a daily nightmare.
My business was reactive.
I spent more time putting out fires than making money. What happened in the store took over what I was doing online and I was making more online. I wasn't proactive or following any sort of plan. I was waiting for things to happen.
The apartment tenant stopped paying rent.
While that went down, he stayed in the apartment making life miserable. That, combined with the 2008 crash and the subsequent crash of the Detroit auto industry, things went from bad to worse. Money was tight.
We were reeling from the renter; Jim's (my husband) steady and secure job went to part time; I had too much inventory. Vintage and antique buying was the last thing on anyone's mind. Things were tough all over, but particularly in Detroit. So, we made the decision to shut down the shop.
Check out part 2 for the rest of the story!