We used to have a physical storefront in uptown Oklahoma City. In fall of 2005, we held a finger to the wind and saw the downturn coming. Rather than try to fight a losing battle with the economy, when our lease came up for renewal, we decided to step back and wait for the tide to turn.
We now feel that the economy has gotten about as bad as it’s going to get. Since it’s pretty hard to fall off the floor, we are now cautiously optimistic about bringing the shop back to life.
The past six years have been brutal for many folks. Unemployment, a debt crisis, a massively expensive war that has way outlived its purpose, a housing fiasco, and sooo many corrupt elected officials — all of these just beat down on the people. For many months, it just seemed like things kept on getting worse and worse.
We felt the squeeze too: instead of being able to sell a historic home desperately needing renovation we couldn’t afford, we lost it to foreclosure. It was full of toxic mold and we literally had to flee for our lives, so frankly we’re actually pretty relieved that it’s someone else’s problem now. But when I closed the shop, I expected to get a job for a while, and instead found myself unemployed for the better part of five years.
This was not so bad, we didn’t really need two incomes (it’s pretty cheap to live in Oklahoma City). That is, it was all right until my domestic partner recently spent four months also being unemployed. Our savings is wiped out now, but at last a job came through and things are going to be OK again. *whew*
Needless to say, I won’t be able to get a small business loan for a while. That’s normally how you do it, you come up with about half of the funds and you borrow the rest. But you know what, I don’t think a small business loan would be a good idea right now, even if someone would lend it. Cash in hand is what feels right. Lots of cash.
We’re looking at an opening budget of around $15,000. Most of the old shop’s fixtures went away when we fled Mold Manor, so we’ll need to buy new ones (or at least new to us). We may have a problem locating used fixtures, though: after a bunch of stores went under, the local used store fixture depot also went out of business.
The shopping center we’re looking at is not the fanciest, but it’s nice. The price is also nice, but it’s not cheap. We have narrowed it down to two choices: one that’s $1100/month and plenty big for a retail store, or one that’s $2000/month and big enough not only for the store, but also for activities, classes, haflas, dances, feasts, and other fun things.
One of the things we didn’t have space for last time was classes, and after doing much research on what makes a metaphysical store really take off we’re strongly leaning toward the larger shop. First and last month’s rent plus a deposit is already over $5000, and this shopping center requires expensive illuminated signs.
Why, oh why, did I name the business Once Upon A Silver Moon? That’s 24 characters (well, 21 + 3 spaces). I should have just named it The Store. (Already taken – by a bar.) I test marketed the idea of a new, shorter name, and everyone said No! Stick with the one you’ve got, people know who you are! Well, that makes sense.
So that’s about $8000 for fixtures, rent/deposit, and signage. That gets us in the door, but before we do that, there’s more to consider.
We’re pondering the idea of operating the open space as a non-profit, possibly even as a church. Paperwork, filing fees, and palm-greasing. Another grand.
The place we’re looking at has no interior walls so we’d have to put some up. I can probably manage to assemble a crew (lots of theatre tech friends), but the raw goods are probably going to run around $800. Paint for the place will be $200 by itself, just based on square footage. The floor’s OK so we won’t need new tile or carpet. But we will need an electrician to add some outlets to our new spaces.
Once we have the walls up, we’ll need additional lighting. In retail you just have to have good lighting. The existing fixtures are not enough and they are those awful noisy fluorescents. Our old store had those and everyone hated them, especially us. Budget in $2000 for energy-efficient spots and LED bulbs that won’t need to be replaced for years.
We’ll be a WiFi hotspot so we’ll need a
honeypot network. Tables, chairs, filing cabinet, desk — basic office furniture, and a color laser printer for labels since we make most of our products.
So at that point, we’re legal, furnished and fixtured, we’re lit up, and we have a fresh coat of paint on the walls, all for the nice low price of $12,000. >gak!< There’s still nothing on the shelves and we haven’t done any advertising yet, but you can do a lot with a studio full of raw goods and $3000.
So WTF does all this have to do with Wish Bracelets?
Every time we sell a Wish Bracelet, 100% of that money goes into a special fund for the start-up costs.
That’s a helluva lotta bracelets, you’re thinking.
Well, yes. But we do have some of the money coming in via a tax refund (if the IRS doesn’t sieze it), and we think maybe we can get some through crowdsourcing.
Also, if we do decide to go with a non-profit structure, at least for the yoga/class part of the business, theoretically we might be able to get some grants or tax-deductable donations.
But the Wish Bracelets are a way that the average customer can contribute actual money to our actual start-up. People love to make a difference to someone’s life, to their community. And OMG, every dollar makes a difference right now, and the Law of Attraction says that if we can get those dollars coming in, more will follow.
These little bracelets are going to help us right now, but once we’re up and running, we won’t need to raise funds any more. We will have achieved that goal and the business will support itself, like it should.
So here’s the beautiful part of this: we will keep the Wish Bracelets as a fundraiser, but instead of going to us, we’ll find a good cause and donate all the money from Wish Bracelet sales to it. People like Wish Bracelets; we used to sell at least one or two every day. Most of the customers would buy them for their own needs, so this looks like a winning solution for everyone.
We’re partial to the Red Rock Youth Shelter, which is part of a larger organization. Among many other services, they provide housing and counselling for GLBT teens whose parents kick them out for being gay. Our old store had a wish bowl where people would put in their spare change. We were really proud to be able to help them out.
So we’re looking ahead to what we can do once we re-open the store. Not just what all we’re going to sell, and not just what cool events and classes we’re going to be able to offer. Not just how we can bring even more pleasantness to the lives of our customers, but also how we can contribute meaningfully to our community and a cause we really care about. But to get there, we’ve got to get open first, and to get open, we’ve got to raise money.
Please consider buying a Wish Bracelet to help us today, so we can help others tomorrow.