My rant about the apparel and accessories small business

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3 Stinky Monkeys BoutiqueBoutique types of apparel stores are slowly disappearing unless you also have a shopping based website and some serious marketing skills. I love clothes. I love fashion and style. I was always a retailer and stylist. By nature a salesperson and also a  creative thinker. An avid shop and seller.

What I am talking about is the kind of store that is essentially disappearing now. I cherish the years that I had my store. Having kids in the mix is not impossible with a storefront, but what about now a days? What is happening to brick and mortar stores if the creative buyers and sellers don’t have the hours to create innovative and competitive websites with warehouses of apparel to ship out to the masses?

If your passion lies with retail I would not suggest starting your own fashion shop. I would suggest working for someone else unless you are a manufacturer and have your own line of apparel or goods. The retail world is going farther and farther away from small businesses unless you are prepared to have a web based business as your first means of making money from and have enough web marketing to even get your product out.  When I was a shop owner, times in retail were very different.

There was no etsy, shop bop, gilt or any internet shopping for that matter.  I think of it as the good old days when people went somewhere to spend money. Of course before the recession,  and before we had the internet at our fingertips to price check every item against what was offered in store.

3 Stinky Monkeys was my creative outlet, social life, work, and purpose other than being a Mom! The recession really hit my business hard which is only part of the reason I am a realist in opening your own store without having other money making plans. Opening a small brick and mortar business selling goods is one thing now a days. A hobby.

If you want a great tax write off and have an endless pot of cash or perhaps have inherited money or you are a trust fund child then open a store. I went back to work in someone else’s storefront just because I love retail so much and I got to see first hand what kind of cash they were burning. These people do not know the first thing about having a web based business because, like me, they are retailers from before the internet and need to hire people to help them with this new way of sales.

They were and still are fighting the idea that in order to make their business succeed, they are going to have to learn how to have a web based store. So just to give an idea of how much they are spending on the brick and mortar side of things I will break it down for you. First of all rent was about $12,000 a month just for the location. Construction on the interior and purchase of all shelving, built ins, etc to start was $35,000.

Computers and systems set up in store was another $20,000. To stock the store with actual merchandise to start was at least $75,000 and then every month going forward to keep it going another 20k. Alarm system 4k and a monthly fee. Don’t forget about having a staff unless you want to be there 24-7. We had a staff of 5 people most of who made 10-12 dollars an hour and I was hired at a higher rate of 15 dollars an hour which I was supposed to be grateful for. The manager that they hired made 24 dollars an hour and bonuses if the staff made their goals. The store had to make sure to have monthly email blasts about new product, big events every other month, and market in local magazines, high schools, etc. I could go on and on about the cash that was being poured into marketing just to get the word out about this store.

This is because it is not a corporate pop up store location, but a small business that has no internet presence and is too high end to make it. However I will say that it is very confusing when you have very wealthy clients who come in and drop 8k in one shopping spree. But even in that case it’s not the routine every month, so about a quarter of your merchandise gets marked down for sale which is really bad for a small business to be giving away their merch.

If the numbers are done correctly and their is about 40-60k going out a month and only 60k-80k coming in and the latter is only the holiday months then you are basically breaking even and potentially losing money. So better to close your doors unless of course you have a passion for style, a trust fund, and a savvy financial adviser as a customer to help you write off and hide your cash.

Otherwise be like me and throw your hands up saying “it’s not my store, I just work here” and enjoy the discount. I believe that working for yourself is ideal, but in the situation where you have a creative vision but cannot afford to lose funds, then you are best off working for someone who has the funds and lacks the vision. Hopefully you will be valued for what you bring to their table and won’t get stuck in a competitive cutthroat situation like I did at my last job.

Which brings me full circle to why I would consider just learning about how to have a web based business and maybe do the brick and mortar thing out of house. The possibilities can be endless if you commit to an idea and do not let any anxieties take a hold on your mind keeping you back from learning.

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