From start to finish, setting up my handmade jewelry shop in Newburyport last May was a project I did by the seat of my pants. Probably not uncommon for small businesses. I thought it might be helpful for you to have a list of things to do if you have plans for a new shop! So here is my list based on last year’s experience.
After construction, which included a new floor, new moldings, built in shelving, lots of track and pendant lighting, a new doorway and barn door, it was time to move in. When in this phase be practical- think about how you are going to use your space. No one could picture how I was going to fit a bed in a 200 sq foot shop- but I had a vision and it was important to work it into the layout. I installed vinyl flooring that no one can tell isn’t real wood,will withstand traffic and is easy to clean.
Provide heat and air conditioning systems that are adjustable in the shop, workable windows, energy efficient glass and doors, a screen door, locks on all doors and an employee bathroom.Install fire and carbon dioxide detectors and the necessary fire alarms and fire key boxes required by your town. Install phones and internet service.
Things to do:
-Officially register your business in town.
-FIRST THING: Research ADA access and requirements for store access, aisle size and check out.
-Install a security system for windows and doors and a camera to prevent theft. I use a Nest camera and find it to work quite well.
-Find your employees and start training them and have them help with the myriad of tasks that are going to overwhelm you!
-Find a good handyman and computer support person to help you keep up with your opening schedule.
– Develop your signage/branding. Use you logo and choose strong images to brand your shop. Make sure you love it your image to prevent extra spending later. Employ a graphic designer whose work you admire to save your time and money in the long run.Do this at least four months ahead of time so ordering can be done 12 weeks for the following items: shop signs, gift certificates and envelopes, boxes,bags, gift wrap, ribbons, tissue paper, price labels, business cards, mailing labels, a flyer and promotional signs for the store telling shoppers what makes you special. A-frame “sandwich boards” for your sidewalk and flags will attract foot traffic. Have the designer make an email signature that includes a logo and perhaps a few thumbnail images to go at the bottom of every email you send out.
-Research and ask other store owners about point of purchase registers and merchant services accounts (credit cards). Find one you want to use for your sales transactions and inventory. We use Square on an apple ipad at Pam Older Designs and it works for us, but a larger store may need more bells and whistles. A chip reader,card scanner and receipt printer are part of this system and it is easy to set up and use. I also use quickbooks for my wholesale and pamolderdesigns.com orders.
-Create a check-out area with the largest cash wrap counter that will fit your space (note ADA requirements for length and height). Stock it with bags and boxes, wrapping material, labels, polishing clothes, post-it notes, scissors, box opener, calculator, marking pens, keys, cleaning supplies like glass cleaner and a shelf for orders being held for pick up. Build a separate station for check-out if your space allows. Mine cash wrap has plenty of glass display area as well.A separate register stand will provide more storage and use less of your cash wrap counter space. If you have room add a table or counter space behind your main cash wrap.
-Buy store fixtures and displays for your jewelry and other items, and shelving, cabinets, hooks, tables, baskets.
-Take hundreds of pictures of your shop and your products. You will need them for future social networks and advertising.
-Buy a nice email sign up book and put it on the counter. Collect those emails! We also have a wish list book and a gift certificate book for tracking customer’s needs.
-Learn to be proficient in Mail Chip or Constant Contact so you can reach your customers with important sales information. Develop your social media pages and blogs. It takes a long time to develop, if you are not proficient hire a marketing savvy person to do this part time.
-Install awnings,window boxes and plantings. Have a broom and hose near by. Hire a service for planting if you can not do it yourself.
-Hire a cleaning service if you cannot do it yourself
-Hire a bookkeeper and/or account depending on your needs.
-Subscribe to Pandora or Spotify and find a nice little sound system.
-Move into your space and display your wares. Post shop hours and have an open/closed sign for the window and open your doors! Add your personal touches.
-Join the local Chamber of Commerce to keep abreast of business in town on many levels including promotional offerings and hiring services they sometimes provide as part of being a member. Connect with local merchants. Keep holidays and special town events in mind for store scheduling and staffing.
Any additional comments? Would love to hear from you. I am sure I have left out many but I will update this as time goes on. Hope it was helpful.