Monday, April 21, 2008

The beginning part 2

Ok, it's been 2 hours since my last post and I will now update all of you with the quick history of our new shop.

Put your goddamn time machine hats on again.

February. I moved down here from Brooklyn, my home for a long time. Since college. That's... jesus. That's sixteen years. Throw in a year or two in Jersey, there you go.

So I moved down here with the idea that A) I'd be working as the designer and web guy and all that and B) that I'd be making a salary of $400 a week, take home.

I'd like to put something into perspective for you, so you can see the dramatic change in not only my lifestyle, but also my determination to get not only the store running right, but also get myself back to a lifestyle I enjoy.

When I was last working a full time job, I was making $300 a day. This was as a graphic designer, and that was a medium salary for the amount of work I was doing.

I move down here, and our original shop was not making any money. Tarpon Springs is, what I would call (and others in town would call) a ghost town. The local government officials work extra hard to make promoting shops in town as difficult as possible. They make laws, ban outdoor advertising, tear up roads where shops parking had been (remind me to tell you what happened two christmas's ago, you won't even believe it.)

This all takes place in Tarpon Springs proper. The historical district. That's where our shop was (it's now strictly a manufacturing facility), and if we got a customer a week, it was a lot. In hindsight, we didn't do enough research, and the thought of having a combination store/production facility sharing the rent was too good to pass up. 1200 square feet for $802 a month. Couldn't beat it. At least, we thought so at the time.

Our wholesale business has a few consistent customers and new ones hit the site every day. Google ad words. Holy cow, it's helped our business 100%.

But it wasn't enough to pay all three of our salaries.

One day, some time in January, I believe, a man who owns an outdoor mall in the TOURIST section of Tarpon Springs (think Lake George or Gatlinberg) came to our shop after a friend... god, so convoluted. Let's just say that we were invited to open a shop in this mall, where there were no soap shops.

Now, there are 30 different shops in this mall called The Sponge Exchange. And it gets a lot of traffic.

It's in an area called The Sponge Docks, touristy, very very greek... and there are four soap shops on the main drag. But none that sell what we're selling. Or making. Our soaps are glycerin soaps in fun, funky and cool designs. There's are olive oil soaps. I won't say they're boring but...

Ok, they're boring.

Oh, and the shop is all the way in the back corner. Near the free parking lot.

After going over some numbers, and getting some advice from some of the other shop owners, we found that we would be able to get in for March 1, and at the PEAK of the tourist season. It would mean cash, but it would also mean that we'd all have to work the shop, which would take away from our other responsibilities.

But it would bring us cash.

I haven't worked retail in a long time. Twelve years, at least. I didn't know any better at the time, so retail wasn't awful, I was young and knew I had better things ahead of me.

I can tell you now, sitting here in the shop, that retail is the worst goddamn thing in the world.

But, it's my shop. Mine and my families. And for better or worse, we have to make the best of it because...

In the first month we opened we took in over $5,000. It would take us an entire year to make $5,000 at the other shop. And while $5,000 might not seem like a lot to some other people, people with higher ticket items, things that don't bob and weave on the line of need/gift... it was a huge deal for us, and not only allowed us to support our salaries, but also both rents for both shops.

This isn't even on top of the wholesale orders we'd received over that month. So, suffice it to say, March was a KILLER month for us. Had to be our best yet, and for good reason.

We sell awesome stuff.

It's April. and it's not as busy in the store. Where we were having $350 days, we have $150 days. And what I can only describe as the slow hell of boredom... I'm here 4 days a week, alone, with this laptop.

And I will be bringing you the day by day, blow by blow of said boredom.

What do I hope to get out of this? Good question. A few things.

One is, entertainment. I say some serious gems around here when what my family have dubbed 'looky-loos' come in and leave the store. I have to write them down.

Second is, you never know where your next big idea will come from. Possibly from you, dear reader. With that, you never know who your next customer will be.

Yes, I'm looking at you.

Third, this is a community. Let's share our pain.

Ok, ok, and we'll share the good stuff too. Sheesh.

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