Saturday, January 22, 2005

Starting a retail business: grants

There are no grants for starting a retail business. Let me repeat that for emphasis - there are no grants! Con artists say they can get you a grant to start your business ... but all you'll really get is swindled. Businesses are started with personal savings and loans.

Real entrepreneurs don't need or want handouts, and anyone trying to start a retail store with an "entitlement" or "welfare" mentality is doomed to fail.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Retail business success: Solis

Solis is your typical story of a Silicon Valley e-commerce start-up that relocates operations to Los Angeles ... and Warsaw, Indiana. The fashion apparel retailer grew from a fashion eyewear line and their only storefront is in Warsaw. Read all about it in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Retail business success: Karibu

Karibu means "welcome" in Swahili. Almost all of the books in the small chain of bookstores are by or about black people. Simba Sana and his partner Yao Ahoto started selling books from a street vending table in the District of Columbia in 1992. Sharing a passion for black literature and for black business ownership, they transformed Karibu from street vendor to mall pushcart to small store. Today, they have four stores in malls in Hyattsville, Bowie, Hillcrest Heights and Forestville (Prince George's County outside Washington DC). They also operate a kiosk in Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia, and a website. And here's another article about Karibu.

This niche market also reflects the "cause marketing" of the owners. Karibu is a retail marketing effort that is more than just a store. Karibu's mission, "to create a financially viable African owned and operated cultural institution," is posted in the backroom of each of the company's shops.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The dog-eat-dog world of Christian bookselling?

Newsweek has an article about heightened competition in the Christian bookselling world as popular titles draw interest from Wal-Mart and Barnes and Noble. Small mom-and-pop shops are being forced out of business.

No niche is safe once it gains mass appeal. Successful retail marketing is always finding the next specialty, the product that the big box stores don't carry. There's a whole globalized world of products out there ... go get yourself something you can exclusively promote.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Home furnishing stores cluster in SLO

In the last couple of years, home decorating retailers have opened a "concentrated and varied" selection of stores in San Luis Obispo. Whether attracted by the recent influx of wealthy baby boomers and retirees or the area's enviable lifestyle, retailers are opening up home furnishing shops like never before. Some such as Fortini Home, Garden and Design are started by county natives who already have a foothold in the area, while the Black Sea Gallery is part of a statewide chain.

Will they all survive? Some won't, that's just the nature of business. But the concentration of stores could have a positive impact for all if SLO becomes a destination for shoppers from outside the community. A little joint promotion and publicity could help it become known as a hub for this type of retailing.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Nailing it in the hardware business

What does a smaller hardware store do when Lowes moves in next door? Find products that the big box store doesn't sell. That's nimble retail store management.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Retail business success: Organic To Go

Organic To Go sells organic food - in the form of box lunches. The prepared lunches are available for pick-up or are delivered for an additional charge. A second shop is opening in Seattle and the owners have big dreams of a nationwide roll-out, which the support of some well-known retailers.

No tables means smaller stores, fewer employees and lower overhead. That's smart retail management. The organic angle gives this retail marketing strategy a niche ... and a chance for continuing success in the difficult fast food market.