|08-28-2009, 02:54 PM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Toronto, Canada
I held onto a dream of starting a toy store for many years. I've reached a crossroad in my life. My past graphic design career is over. I got laid off from my last job, a photo lab. Every fibre of my being says I must work for myself and not for those jerks in my past.
So how do you lauch a start-up business? I've asked this question many times. Even a professional business consultant couldn't give me a satisfactory answer. "Research" was his answer. You're a start up. Time and money is not on your side. You're in a finanial black hole already. So how is it done?
I've also talked to several shopkeepers. Some were helpful, some not so. The best advice I got was I could read all the text books you want. But the only way to run a business is to do it. Another told me his store is a destination store. No one does does any advertising. Maybe christmas advertising or annual toy show. But that's it. There's the phonebook too.
I've visited all the toy stores in a 2 hour radius of my home. I've checked them all out. I've tried to figure out their business model. They succeed despite what I see as drawbacks:
Poor location - Run down part of town, little foot traffic. Warehouse turned into business use.
Bad organization - Toys up the wazoo with no room to walk! Too much merchandise and not enough thought on decor. I'm selling cool toys. It has to look cool as well. My start up is going to be modest at first. Does decor have to be compromised. I've seen too many stores that look like you've walked into someone's basement.
Bad attitudes - Bunch of kids with an attitude. Staff are very young and immature. A shopkeeper told me make the customer your friend. They need you as much as I need them. These kids aren't the friendly type.
High prices - This store has sky high prices in a chi-chi tourist spot near the lakeshore. Great locale during the summer. Blistering cold during the winter. Tourists don't buy toys or do they?
I'm not interested in selling cheap stuff. I'm not directly competing with Walmart. I want to sell big ticket items. $50 and up. No single carded figures. Stuff like 1/6 figures, imports, collectibles, games (no video games), radio control (no assembly required), etc.............. I'm not familar with Warhammer and card gaming.
I've considered mall kiosks. Ideal small space. But I don't like their practices. I'm doing this alone so it won't work. Ideally a small store front at street level. I've seen jewellery dealers with long narrow store fronts. I'm leaning towards an underground concourse that connects much of the downtown office towers. It a long concourse. There are shops and businesses. They close at 6 and weekends. Great during cold winters.
With a few exceptions, the competitors have set the bar very low. How hard is it to keep a business clean, bright, and organized? I must set myself apart from these guys. Clean, bright, organized, well stocked is the lowest common denominator. I need an edge! What can I offer that other don't. I've considered restoration work. Would you pay to fix old toys? I do have a background in design and arts and crafts. A cool window display is another possibilty.
Online store? Too much credit card fraud to consider.
I've looked around for a business mentor, but I' don't know anyone with a business. My contacts aren't going to share their trade secrets or financials. I do have money to start this venture, but I don't have the support of family and friends. Please share your thoughts and experiences.
|08-29-2009, 08:08 PM||#2|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Toronto, Canada
|08-29-2009, 08:20 PM||#3|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Honestly if you were to get into the toy business, I would say without online you'd better be in a major city advertise like hell and remember the new used toy laws.
But honestly the economy sucks right now, if your selling a niche product you will most likely need online sales
|08-29-2009, 09:27 PM||#4|
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Marysville, ca
as said go online.
if you must have a store front do both online and in the store to maximize profit.
be sure you understand you need minimum 6 months in costs saved up. also you probobly wont turn a profit for the first year or more.
check out my store for great deals
|08-29-2009, 09:36 PM||#5|
Join Date: Apr 2009
Start small at first by launching it online.
My local comic shop started his business on eBay. Now he has expanded to brick and mortar, turning it into the largest chain of comic shops / toys and collectibles in the city. He currently owns 3 stores.
Cobra's own Weapon X!
Last edited by Albie; 08-29-2009 at 09:43 PM..
|08-29-2009, 09:43 PM||#6|
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Hisstank Wrestling Federation!
First you need to hire a private army for protection, and to drive the competition out of town. Then you'll need a mountain fortress that doubles as a drug lab. Other than that, the business pretty much runs itself.
|08-29-2009, 10:00 PM||#7|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Asteroid M
Man... tough business model here.
Your bread and butter will be the single cards, and tickets under $50. You're taking a niche market and making it even tighter, into an exclusive niche w/o online sales?
Sorry man, I wouldn't back this. I own 2 small businesses, and this doesn't seem to bode well for a venture.
As stated, you'll have to launch online and brick & mortar simultaneously.
Make sure you have all your licences & books straight, hire an accountant early since you will most likely be in the red deep into your first 2 years with a venture of this type.
You were a designer, so odds are in your favor that you can build a basic e-commerce site on your own. Use Paypal checkout, it is a fail-safe small business go-to.
Have to appeal to a wide enough market without diluting your inventory pool; if you are going into toy collectibles, unfortunately that means a cross-over into comics & RPG's. Personally, I'd love to just see a toy-comic store w/o RPG clutter, but it seems unlikely given the fan base you need to attract.
Try something new and fresh in your store; plasma DVD's playing cult fav movies through your store, have a custom sunday for transformers, SW, and joes, and offer a store credit or prizes to the winner. Most of your vendors already have a promotional budget in place as reps for small businesses; could be Sunday Custom Joe Event brought to you by Hasbro.
Sooooo many of these ventures fail with nice guys left high and dry with a basement of unsold inventory liquidated on Ebay.
My advice- after you open your business, either an LLC, an escorp, or whichever model you choose, take your inventory on in credit and make sure you have as little personal capital involved in the initial startup, in case it goes sour.
|08-29-2009, 10:20 PM||#8|
Iron Grenadier Sorcerer
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: The Silent Castle
Only a show of force will convince the world WE MEAN BUSINESS!
|08-30-2009, 12:04 AM||#9|
Broca Beach Realtor
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Broca Beach
you should probably know that hasbros has minimum of $5,000 order if you plan on ording from them.
Also only a fool wouldn't have an online component. in your case just an ebay store. but heres my example:
I run a book store, and lets say i get in a very nice copy of The Giver (first edition) now thats an expensive book $200+ easy, BUT I live in spfld, MO and there are very few book collectors, so I could hold onto it for years and years hoping some collector will stumble in and buy it or I list it online and sell it in a few weeks (which i did) Bottom line have an online component.
Also I would price things based on current market value. IN my case it would be what an item similar is selling for on ABE books (amazon in crap from pricing pre 1970s stuff). This is as opposed to using some value guide or some such that comes out annually.
Also be prepared from some VERY, VERY depessing days to months, and possibly years. For a long time the unoffical store motto was "a great place to Hang" (with a mimed noose)
|08-30-2009, 10:58 AM||#10|
Join Date: May 2008
Location: South Carolina
I had heard also that Hasbro has actually stopped opening new accounts directly, that if you want to purchase their stuff you now have to go through Diamond Distribution (usa's only comic distributor). And their wholesale price is WAY over retail. Something like $12 each for star wars figures.
As for the idea of only selling items that cost over $50.00, it sounds good in theory, but practically would be almost impossible to run a succesful business with this price point. It would be like opening a music store and selling ONLY guitars that cost more than $500.00. There is a market for that, but only a small percentage of musicians would frequent your store at any given time becaue more affordable merchandise wouldn't be available.
Someone else mentioned that a shop had started on ebay and now has 3 stores. I think this seems like the best idea to start a business with the recession and all. Other than the seller fees there's negligible overhead and any profit that you make you can roll into new merchandise or just let it accumulate until you feel like you can take it somewhere else.
Another thing you want to consider is how established are you in the toy/comic/collector community? Do you have alot of contacts/friends that you speak with regularly that buy/sell/trade frequently? Are you the "go to guy" for information about toys? Do you have a personal collection of reasonable size that you are willing to sell or trade parts of it? The reason I ask is because the toy/comic shop owner I mentioned before, sold stuff out of his garage on weekends and then moved to a flea market. Eventually he was doing such high volume sells that he moved to a store. But everyone within 3 good sized cities knew that he was the guy to go to for what they wanted.
Anyway, I hope this helps you out! I was a business owner for about 3.5 years and I learned alot during that short time...If you want to PM me about anything feel free...good luck!
Last edited by NC Joe; 08-30-2009 at 11:01 AM..
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