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Small business question.

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  • Member since
    May, 2008
Small business question.
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, January 15, 2005 8:45 AM
Hi gang! It's Trevor from Monster Hobbies.

I didn't realize that starting the business in a real store would be so costly and hard! We have almost spent our entire bank loan on Startup fees and Advertising as well as Stock, and for January shopping, it is painfully slow....borderline...nonexistant! I just hope that after all this effort, people shop here.

It's not like the Flea Market was where the traffic of people was there all the time. Now we have to generate the traffic ourselves and it is difficult.

We have someone making us some signs for our storefront as well as a sandwitch board. I printed up some little fliers and took them to the post office and they said they were too small and to make bigger ones. I will use these as business cards, or to put on car windshields. I also printed some full page signs and placed them on bulletin boards all over town. No one complained about that. Clown

As for more "official" advertising, I placed two ads in "The Regional" newspaper which goes to all the boardering communities surrounding High River. One ad is a small one, 1.2" * 2", but the second one is a 1/2 page ad with a write up. On that ad, I made it like a colouring contest and I'll give away a prize or two to see if I get a response.

There is also a movie theatre in town in which I can place a slide on the big screen, but again, it is a cost.

The final idea I had was to decorate the car, but I don't know if that changes my insurance or not, from private vehicle to commercial.

Anyone else have problems like this? What did you do?

What other ideas did you try that didn't cost much that we could try ourselves?
  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, January 15, 2005 9:50 AM
I still went to the swap meet on the weekends and set up passed out flyers so everyone knew where we were. Decorate the car it does not change your insurance and you can write it off on your taxes. Throw a party hot dogs and a can of soda draw alot of people into the store advertise a raffle that might get more through the door on the same day. Just my 2 cents
  • Member since
    April, 2004
  • From: Southwestern,Pa.
Posted by big sully on Saturday, January 15, 2005 11:42 AM
If you have a local High School nearby , see if they run a school newspaper. If they do, perhaps they would let you place an add for a small fee . I know our local school has one and local bussineses that cater to the younger crowd place there ads in it. Also a good way to attract the younger generation toward modelling !!!!!!!!
Dave Member: Outsiders Model Car Club Member : "Three Rivers Automodlers" Life has many choices........... Eternity only has two.............
  • Member since
    November, 2003
  • From: Arroyo Grande, CA
Posted by MojoDoctor on Saturday, January 15, 2005 11:55 AM
After Christmas through April is slooooow for your type of business. I owned a store that sold radio control goodies and all of my money was from June through December. Your adveretising ideas sound good, but be aware of laws restricting flyers on cars. You have to get the permision of the parking lot owners to do so, and the city won't allow you to do this in public. At least here in the U.S. it's that way.Try handing flyers out to customers with a coupon for a future purchase.
Don't spend a lot of money on advertising just yet. Wait until after Easter. People are paying off Christmas debts at this time!

Matt Good judgement is the result of experience, Experience is the result of poor judgement. Mark Twain

  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, January 15, 2005 12:25 PM
Discount stuff off retail prices. Bargains always excite me. And none of this 15% off your next purchase garbage. Give it to me now or I won't be back.

If I special order something, that means I need it now. I don't want to wait weeks or months for it. I would rather order it myself and have it in a few days rather than wait for you.


  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Westland Michigan
Posted by KRIS MORGAN on Saturday, January 15, 2005 1:03 PM
Have you thought mail order, that way member here can shop too.

Hockey players wear numbers because, they cannot always be identified by dental records. Lets go Red Wings!!

  • Member since
    April, 2004
  • From: generally earth
Posted by notlezah on Saturday, January 15, 2005 1:34 PM
Maybe one of your customers that is also in business would be willing to sponsor a prize in a model contest at your store, that would give some incentive to bring in a model (and maybe make a purchase while they are there) It would give you another oportunity to advertise, too. Kids that model will tell their friends,etc. keep it simple and Give a small trophy and some money to the 1st prize winner and a certificate for goods in your store for 2nd and a model for 3rd.
another thing might be have a business card with punch spaces: buy 9 get one free(or whatever rate you can still make money on) you know they will need other supplies to build them...
Good luck!
I am Howard, Jack of all trades,Master of none...current projects: Diorama-->60's gas station, Post WWIII PerriPeekaboo...See my stuff here: http://public.fotki.com/notlezah/ Simple rules. Have you read them? http://www.scaleautomag.com/sca/community/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7502
  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Lost Wages
Posted by mishalah on Saturday, January 15, 2005 2:39 PM
You've gotta hook up with your core customer base immediately. Get to the IPMS meetings and any other model or hobby club you can find. They will be your base. Get a contest going and get the word out well ahead of time. Do a "grand opening" event of some kind...even if you've been open for awhile. Try a campaign to schools or parents that emphasizes the benefits of model building versus playing brain-numbing computer games for hours.

I spent quite a few years teaching marketing at our university and a private college. During that time I did consulting for over 300 small businesses. Most of them had the same problem you are experiencing....understimating the cost of penetrating your market, and overestimating walk-in traffic. I always started any project with a seriously objective market analysis. Knowing where your customers are and how to reach them is priority #1. I hope you can make it through the slow season and build your base to at least breakeven.

Most of all....sell what they are buyin', even if it's not always what you like.

Good luck!!!!!!
"Help me....I've fallen and I can't get up."...my models are crushing me. my pics: http://public.fotki.com/dallas916/
  • Member since
    November, 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by 46achers on Saturday, January 15, 2005 3:44 PM
Trevor, I know where you are coming from as my shop has been extremely slow also. . Most of my customers drive a considerable distance, I can't seem to get the "locals" to stop, when they do stop they come back, but....
Advertisinin is expensive and to be frank I don't think it helps that much. I was told it takes FIVE years to get established so hang in there. I also try to stay informed with what "new and or upcoming" in the hobby, my customers appreciate that.
  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, January 15, 2005 11:48 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions guys! Today was alot better. We actually had $100 in the till at the end of the day and that was the best we have done so far this month. If we get 6 more days like it, we can still be in business in Febuary.

Yesterday my wife and I placed a lot of our new full page flyers on the bulletin boards around town and we got a lot more traffic today than in the last few weeks. Most of the townspeople that are into hobbies don't want to drive 1 hour or more into neighboring Calgary to buy something, so once the word gets out there more, I think we'll do far better.

As far as advertising regulations, I don't think they're as strick here in our small town as in many larger cities. However, the little flyers that we were going to post on windshields I have just been giving to the neighboring small businesses and they have been giving them out to their customers. I have also been giving about 10 to my customers and asking them to pass them out for me, so we'll see what happens there.

As far as stocking items people want, many people are asking for things that I wouldn't have a clue on how to get. Today a woman was asking me for leather glue, of all things. I told them to try a Tannery store. One day, when I get ahead of the game, I'll get some women's hobbies, but for now, I have to sell what's already in stock.

I also have an advantage because there are a lot of model clubs, Warhammer clubs and so on in this small town. Until I came around, they had to go so far away to buy stuff. When more people know I am around, I could be set for life...or at least until the end of the year. Also, this town is a beef cutting / farming town with a large industrial area. A lot of people are better off and spending $400 is nothing to them. It is different than Calgary in that respect. One guy even said that it would be ok if I raised my prices 10% because it's better than traveling to Calgary economically.

To top it off, there is a small rivaliry between High River and neighboring Okotoks and a lot of people would rather drive 40 EXTRA miles into Calgary than shop in Okotoks. When they learn there is a shop at home, it's amazing how many people want to shop in town.

If I do well this month, I think I will try that advertisement at the movie theatre. It's $300 for a year and that gets me 3 slides which are projected 3-5 times before the movie starts. The local theatre is a 1 movie type, but many people go to the movies all the time. When a movie like Sponge Bob is playing, the ammount of kids there is increadible. So if they see the slide 5 times, it's bound to sink in, espcially since my Frankie monster is a cartoon anyway.

Anyway, I'll talk more on another day. Time for bed. see you soon!
  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, January 15, 2005 11:50 PM
Oh yeah,

A guy that ordered a video from me 4 months ago finally came and bought it today. How's that for a long time in storage?
  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, January 16, 2005 12:38 AM
Cool! glad to hear it is picking up! do you do mail order???
  • Member since
    October, 2012
  • From: Chicago, IL area
Posted by FreedomEagle1953 on Sunday, January 16, 2005 12:05 PM
Hi ya ursulescu ...

Great thread, Trevor ... looks like you and your wife have been/are working hard ... and thinking things through well. Starting and running a small business is always tough ... it just takes time and hard work ... and a little luck doesn't hurt either.

My wife and I have just ... in the last few months ... started a home based small business ... we are Party Lite Candle consultants ... well mostly my wife ... I provide the transportation, consultation and muscle ... moving samples into and out of peoples homes for the home show/parties is a bit of work ... Smile,Wink, & Grin

The problem we are having is a lot like yours ... getting the word out to your customers ... and, this seems to be a very slow time of year for just about any retail ... so, good luck to you and your wife and hang in there ... oh, and talking here I think is a very good idea ... it just never hurts to get others point of view on a problem ... Smile,Wink, & Grin

Again, best of luck and keep in touch.

FreedomEagle1953

Chicago, IL area

"keep on building 'em ... but  don't glue your fingers together"

  • Member since
    October, 2004
  • From: Tampa Bay area
Posted by djaustinj on Sunday, January 16, 2005 9:32 PM
We also are working on opening a hobby shop later this year. One of our ideas for our grand opening involves Revell's make and take program. For about 45-50 dollars they will send you 25 snap type kits ( all the same) along with promotional tips and other helpful materials. You can have a promotion and let the kids build their own model and take it home. Free stuff always generates customer traffic. See Revell - Monogram's website for details. Good luck in your new venture.
  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 17, 2005 7:52 AM
Thanks again guys!

I think it's going to be a bit hard at the begining of this year to get the customers into the store.

First off, everyone is still recovering from X-mas spending, so the money isn't totally there. Secondly, we've taken over a building that has been vaccant for some time. The only other "open" store on our street is the hair stylist beside us who has a clientel of old ladies galore who are only out for one thing...to get a hair cut and then go home. Other people come in and ask where the hearing aid center is, as this use to be the building for it, and they only want their hearing aid fixed.

Finally, the other people that come in are basically looking at what we have in stock. They don't seem to be buying yet, but maybe that will come in time. However, they always ask me to get more expensive stock, and I can't afford it yet, so what do you do?

People traffic isn't the greatest down 2a street either as it is basically a "diamond" street area, and we are not the tip of the diamond, but the bottom base of it, kind of behind the "main drag".

This might have been different if we were on a street corner or something, but getting noticed on a street that is basically an alleyway is complicated indeed.

The final problem is our weather. High River, Alberta has been experiancing -20% celcius to -40% and no one wants to go anywhere in weather like this. High River is generally a "walking" town, but it's been so cold that you can't even walk to your car without freezing to near death and having difficulty breathing.

However, the advantages are worth it too. We are the only "real" hobby shop from the south of Calgary to the north of Lethbridge, a good 6 hour drive. High River is the hub of all the neighboring communities, and there are five of them. Also, High River has 5 schools and young families are moving here all the time, as well as the large retirement community.

Our major problem seems to be tapping into this potential. The elderly live their lives mainly by routine. They go bowling, get hair cuts, and whatever. Breaking them out of routine and getting them to notice our advertising is a challenge. The youth, on the other hand, know where to go in town, but since our location is mainly surrounded by doctor's offices and hair stylists, it's hard to say "Hey! Something cool is down here!".

I guess it's only a matter of time, yet, without sales, time could kill us. So what can you do? It's a catch 22.
  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 17, 2005 7:54 AM
Oh, for mail order you can send me an e-mail at ursulescu@excite.com. I try to keep an inventory list updated for people, but it is hard to do. However, if you have a request, perhaps I can find something for you.
  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 17, 2005 8:10 AM
I also forgot to add that almost all of the businesses close on Sunday and they also open from 10-5 durring the week. I have had a few people ask me if I am open on saturday, of all things. It's equally difficult to say "We're open Sunday" when most people view the town as being "Officially Closed" on Sunday. Mindsets NEED to change.
  • Member since
    February, 2011
Posted by OffRoadRacer on Monday, January 17, 2005 8:13 AM
All Great Ideas & Advice.....
Go with the broadest coverage,
least expensive way's you can come up with.....

Don't forget about the Calgary "Stampede"
If you can keep afloat untill then, that should bring in tons of people,
at least it did back in the 70's when I was there, don't know how many
will be modelers, but you've got to figure an extra what ? 10-20 thousand
Or more people in town for a week, Most with kids who will want something
to do in thier Hotel / Motel rooms at night ??

Good Luck !!
"NEVER SAY DIE",
And NEVER GIVE IN or QUIT !!

You'll make it ;-)

Ps. see if you can find someone who will "Share" a mailing list,
or sell it cheaply, and don't forget about the Internet, Either !! WEBSITE !!,
Flyers, "Grand Opening Party", and last but not least a Contest !
  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 17, 2005 8:18 AM
Cool idea Off Road Racer. There's also the Calgary World of Wheels show in March, but this year we can't afford to go.
  • Member since
    February, 2011
Posted by OffRoadRacer on Monday, January 17, 2005 8:34 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by ursulescu

Cool idea Off Road Racer. There's also the Calgary World of Wheels show in March, but this year we can't afford to go.


PERFECT !!
Just Don't think "Can' t ", maybe just "Not Yet"
What does it cost to set up there ??
FIND A WAY TO GO TO IT !!
Again, Maybe you can find some other vendor
who will (If Allowed to) "Share" a Space or Table with you ?
Maybe you can make a "Special arraingement"
with the Promoter ??...

"Where There's A WIll, There's A Way"....
"Learn It, Live It, Love It "
You'll go, I know it !!
  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 17, 2005 11:33 AM
Calgary? Beautiful place. Spent my honeymoon in Banff. Vacationed in Edmonton, too. Fantastic.


  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, January 18, 2005 11:32 AM
The ideas are terrific guys, and I thank you for them.

However, when my wallet is smoking hot because the funds are close to zero, and you know the rent is comming, you have to hold back on the reigns so you don't go bankrupt for the next month.

I do believe that when the ball gets rolling, and more people know where we are, then I can consider the Stampeede and all other cool ideas with a worry free attitude. It's just for right now that I am more in a panic than at a later time, because the end of the month is comming up quickly and we haven't sold very much to put back in the Monster Hobbies bank account.

Forgive me if I sound a little pessimistic at times. I do appreciate the ideas and I think I will try a lot of them out down the road, but for now, it's just a little too tight to get too big. In fact, I may have streched it a little too far as it is.

I think, for now, I have to take all the suggestions from you helpful guys and my own brain, list them out, and pick one or two that I might be able to afford for Febuary. Gradually build up my advertising stratagies and then release them on the general public.

Tommorrow in the Regional newspaper, my 1/4 advertisement and 1/4 advertorial will be printed. That means that I have 1/2 of a newspaper page devoted to my business. Mind you, it will only be printed once, but the ad is also a colouring contest promotional idea, so I hope it works out. Time will tell as to how many people will enter.

Anyway, thank you again for all the help.

  • Member since
    April, 2012
Posted by Alcopa1 on Sunday, April 23, 2017 10:49 AM

Hi

        Just want to wish you the best in your business endevour ....offer the best service you can (I for one appreciate that) , I'm sure once your customer base is established you should be away to the races! We just lost two local shops for reasons that are not clear to me (one I think was a retirement, the other I'm not sure) but despite the temptation of the internet and on-line purchasing,  I fully believe that the local Hobby shop is a welcome sight in a community!!!

  • Member since
    March, 2008
  • From: Canada
Posted by smellyfatdude on Sunday, April 23, 2017 11:08 AM

Alcopa1

Hi

        Just want to wish you the best in your business endevour ....

I'm guessing that you must not have noticed that the original post in this thread is over 12 years old. The person who wrote it won't see your reply, either. When a members username shows up as "anonymous", that means their account has been deleted. The only reason this ancient thread got resurrected is because a particular spammer keeps finding these old threads, and making posts in them to advertise his junk. If you see any more posts like that, I encourage you to report them. That's the little triangle icon, at the bottom of every post. Smile, Wink & Grin

introducing a leaner, fresher smellyfatdude 

Next builds:

Dunno

 

 

  • Member since
    April, 2012
Posted by Alcopa1 on Sunday, April 23, 2017 11:42 AM

Hi

     You're right I didn't notice I just went at 'er.... Sorry... I'm kinda dumb that way ....will follow your advice...

  • Member since
    March, 2017
Posted by Moparlover64 on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 7:23 PM

Wow didn't see that one coming got me too just as it was becoming a very interesting thread kinda my version of a soap we lost hobby people here in the high desert of social a few months ago down to hobby lobby Michael's and a 45minute to hr drive to Pegasus depending on traffic but what a shop they are they've got everything you can think of otherwise it's micro mark and other mail order for me. Happy modeling don't feel alone on thisone

Moparlover64

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