Wednesday, January 15, 2014

End of small business for brick and mortar establishments

The last few weeks I've been trying to brainstorm any ideas that may save my small business. Unfortunately, in a small and impoverished town, I feel I am at the point where, it only makes sense to close. It is a heartbreaking decision, as my daughter and I have poured our blood, sweat and tears into building a wonderful little shop. We have a great group of loyal customers, but not enough to continue operating a business we are losing money each month. We will continue to sell online, but to continue paying overhead out of pocket, after not even drawing a paycheck, isn't what we set out to do.
While I have no regrets in the experience, it is time to say goodbye to that dream. Perhaps down the line if the economy improves we may try again, but at this time we are moving strictly online. Perhaps brick and mortar businesses are now a thing of the past, like an old memory. It seems more and more, the businesses I see succeeding are those online. Maybe it is time to join the 21st century and strictly sell through the Internet.
My biggest struggle was traffic. We selected an excellent location on a main road between two towns, with a hair salon and nail salon next door. Minutes from a small shopping mall and down the street from my arch enemy, Walmart. Clearly visible from the road, with plenty of parking, well lit, open flag flying and yet, some days we would be lucky to have three customers. Granted, customers who came bought, but the volume we needed to survive just wasn't there.  Many items we carried were upcycles, taking a green initiative, but alas, Walmart offers identical items, of course not upcycled and made in China, for the same or lower prices and frankly, people don't care. It does not matter if it was made in China. The mentality was, "Well, I can get it brand new (rather than upcycled) at Walmart for the same price." We strive to keep prices low, but Walmart, buying in massive bulk can sell items cheaper than I could even purchase them. It is the way of big business and how they drive the small, locally owned shops out of business all together.

I can accept that. Angrily, but I can accept it. Personally,  I make an effort to try and shop locally and shop green. I visit local restaurants and bakeries, instead the chain stores and I look for kitchsy little art places that have unique gifts or something so unusual I fall in love with it and have to bring it home with me.  I will begrudgingly admit, that I too, often shop online. Mostly, I started because I could purchase specific items that I could not find locally, and then I found even with shipping, the cost was significantly lower than I could purchase elsewhere. So, I understand the allure of online shopping. The added bonus is not dealing with ignorant and rude people, being subjected to the smells, behaviors or annoyance of the masses. I get it. There is no haggling online, which was one of the hardest things about running a small business. Even though a sign was clearly listed, stating, "This is not a yard sale, all prices are firm",  I don't believe I had one day of business where someone didn't try to undercut me by at least 50%. It is with sadness that I close the doors, but we will continue selling on our facebook page at My Favorite Things.   

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
 I am also preparing for a new adventure and joining what I believe is the future, selling through I am a fan of Amazon, where I can easily find what I am looking for,  read reviews from other customers and usually find the best price out there. I already publish through Amazon, after a very poor experience with Publish America (that's a whole other story, one I will share in the future) and have always been quite satisfied with my experiences there. In addition, it helps to support the US Post Office, which of course is my day job, so I justify it that way. ;)  So, please, shop through my online store at Amazon, which I am learning how to sell my own products, as well as offering some of the best deals I find on there. You can find us at:

It's been a fun ride and a learning experience and I am glad I was fortunate enough to experience owning a brick and mortar business, before they truly become a thing of the past.