Opening a Toy Store

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by unchained5150, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. unchained5150

    unchained5150 Time to Disappear.

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    Hey everybody!

    I've been away from the boards for a few months with some personal problems and an international move and it's great to be back, first of all! I missed the crazy.

    Anyway, I had this crazy idea while scoping the new area the last couple of weeks. I realized that this area has one tiny comic shop and no specialty/classic/anime toy shops, so I thought: 'Why don't I try to open one?!' - It would be the perfect area as its basically full of boutique shops with lots of foot traffic and it's a somewhat higher end area so there's some leeway with pricing, I'm assuming anyway.

    What I'm wondering is: Have any of you tried/are running a similar shop? What kinds of things went into getting started? What are some of the trials you've been through and how did you overcome?

    I'm scouring the Internet for resources for startups, entrepreneurship, and running toy stores in general but I figured you guys would know quite a bit about it too.

    Anyway, hopefully I'm not asking too much lol.

    Thanks guys!

    EDIT: I'm in Alexandria, Virginia by the way. I thought I added it the first time but, I guess I was mistaken haha.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  2. IACON

    IACON "That's Vector Sigma?" TFW2005 Supporter

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    Never did anything like this before, but good luck. Keep my fingers crossed for your success.
     
  3. rxlthunder

    rxlthunder Banned

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    Well first off, where exactly are you? It would be good to know if people in your area are interested in those products.
     
  4. unchained5150

    unchained5150 Time to Disappear.

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    Very true! I thought I said it but I guess not haha. I'm in Alexandria, Virginia right now. As far as the yellow pages and google is concerned, there aren't many comic/toy/specialty shops in the area so, there may and/or may not be promise lol. I'm still researching at the moment.
     
  5. OMEGAPRIME1983

    OMEGAPRIME1983 Well-Known Member

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    I've thought of having a hand at it. There's a lot of people in my area I know that would get into this kind of stuff, unfortunately you need a LOT of money to start a business, even a small one. Good luck to you with this, I hope you succeed in doing this.
     
  6. unchained5150

    unchained5150 Time to Disappear.

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    Ya, the capital is the thing I'm most worried about. I'm not exactly sure at this point how to write up an effective business plan so the banks'll even consider it at this point. That's one of the things I'm really curious about from the people who have already done it, for sure.
     
  7. Wrecker217

    Wrecker217 Heart Like a Hand Grenade

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    You better have Transformers in that shop.

    And I'm 17, so what do I know about running a business besides keeping up with demand?
     
  8. Genetic

    Genetic Morg Than Meets the Eye

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    Ok, first off, the initial investment is huge. You have to buy in your stock, have to pay deposits on a lease, pay lawyer fees, buy fixtures/fittings, pay for the installation of a phone line for a credit card machine and have enough money to pay several months' rent.

    Most businesses will fail quickly because of a lack of capital. The assumption is that you start making money as soon as you open...that is very far from the truth. You can find after 6 months you're still not selling enough to cover your overheads, it's a long process.

    On top of that, you've got another cost - you. You need to eat and pay your own bills, so you'll need to draw a wage.

    The best thing you can do is research everything and make a list of the monthly costs. Then work out what percentage profit you aim to make, and then reverse work the figure to see how much money you need to generate per month (ie - if your overheads are $3000 per month and your profit is 25% then you need to sell $12,000 of stock per month). That will be a very sobering moment.

    There are also three other factors - 1. The recession. People are cutting down on comics/toys/non essentials, so is now a good time to open? 2. You have competition. As a start up, you need to make money fast. The guy who has the existing shop? He can probably afford to drop all of his prices for 6 months and undercut you because he's already got a regular income. 3. Maybe there is only one small shop for a reason. There could just be no market in that area.

    And the final thing to bear in mind - self employment isn't as fun as it seems. The idea that you can work when you feel like it is great, but if you do that then you don't make money. You'll find you end up working in the shop and then when you go home you'll be ordering stock, tracking down leads and still working. If you get sick, you don't get paid. If you take a holiday, you don't get paid.


    My honest advice to you is this - if you genuinely believe you can make money out of something like this, then buy the stock, set up a website and then do flea markets/conventions/anything else like that in your area and set yourself up on Ebay. Have business cards printed out and include them with every single sale so you're marketing yourself. If you then find you're getting huge revenue in your home town, then maybe consider opening a store, but the less overheads you have, the better so operating from home is the way to go for now.

    Sorry if that pisses on your idea, it's not intended to, I just wanted to give you honest insight.
     
  9. unchained5150

    unchained5150 Time to Disappear.

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    This is exactly the kinds of things I'm asking for. Some of that I've already found out but the math of it and especially the recession are both things I haven't really touched on yet. There could very well be a good reason why there's only the one shop; I just haven't been able to find out much about the market here yet. That's not to say I'm not pounding the pavement trying to find out why haha.

    I haven't thought about going online before brick-and-mortar so there's definitely a starting point. BBTS started offering product distribution so, I might look into that more now.

    Not at all! I'm asking for advice and this is all sound; every bit of it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  10. unchained5150

    unchained5150 Time to Disappear.

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    That's a given, good sir! I wouldn't be asking advice on a Transformers board if I weren't planning on selling them haha.

    Demand is indeed, important. The preorder system is a good way to judge that for online selling, anyway.
     
  11. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    Do you have a business plan? You WILL need one. This is an industry where the majority of businesses fail, often within a few years of opening.

    How do you know this location will be a good market? How do you know the demand is there? How do you know that you'll be able to compete with other department stores in the area, and online retailers?

    Keep in mind that leases are not cheap, and if its in an area with nice little boutique shops, that probably means the leases are that much more expensive.

    Do you have any experience with this kind of thing? How much can you afford to invest? Where are you going to get the rest? What kind of return will you need to see, and in what time period, in order to stay afloat? How are you going to learn the skills you'll need to manage this store, it's staff, and it's finances?
     
  12. Logicfry

    Logicfry Well-Known Member

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    A good way to help the store out is go half retail space(your stuff) and do half consignment space rent the cases and charge a percentage say 10% on earnings made that month to the individual vendors. If you are going to be buying and selling vintage toys at the store only pay about 1/3rd of what you can sell it for. Remember you have have to make a profit when you sell the item. Most people understand this if you tell them that upfront you can only pay 1/3 of the items full value.
     
  13. MegaPrime33

    MegaPrime33 Follow me @NerdActivist TFW2005 Supporter

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    You really need to research your market and see if a store is even a viable option in your area. I have seen comic and toy stores open in my area and shortly close down simply because of the town they're in. You want to make sure there is enough demand to get you into the black.
     
  14. Astrotrain52

    Astrotrain52 Former Green Kool-aider

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    Should your business venture get the green light, I'll be a frequent customer - Alexandria ain't too far from Fairfax :D 
     
  15. Transfotaku

    Transfotaku Transformer Otaku

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    Lawyer fees for what? All the legalwork you need to do to set up shop in the USA is done very easily and quickly with a minimal amount of investment by anyone. Filing the paperwork to open a business is between $20-30 depending on your county (sometimes, rarely as high as $50), takes a single form that's easily filled out, and given to an office in your county courtyard. You can fill out the form in minutes in that office in fact.

    And you don't need a landline phone at all, and even if you did, most stores come with them installed here, and are cheap/free to get done if not, if you sign up for a year of service or whatever.

    If the OP has a cellphone (so long as it's iPhone or Android) he can go to square.com and get a CC reader to take cards.

    Just find a local banking institute to get your money in of course, and that's that.

    The initial inventory costs can be steep, as can leasing. You'll probably need to lease for some distant term as well, likely in yearly bits. You'll pay for a month at a time, but lease for a year.

    OP, don't forget the 'two year rule' - it usually takes two years for a new business to start kicking butt.
     
  16. Allsparky

    Allsparky Bayou Buah/Ex cross-tie walker!

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    Am green with envy! Not much to offer up past what's given but best of luck to ya!
     
  17. Macross7

    Macross7 Well-Known Member

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  18. Razerwire

    Razerwire 99 Problems... Super Mod

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    I thought about opening a hobby shop in Alexandria, VA when I moved here five years ago but never acted on it.

    Now I have a five month old boy which means there's no way I'll be opening one up. Working for one, yes. Definitely not owning one.

    Whereabouts in Alexandria are you? I'm in Kingstowne.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  19. doomboy536

    doomboy536 Universe Onslaught fanboy

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    If you open your own business then be prepared to have it consume every waking moment of your life for the first few years. You won't be choosing when you work, you'll have chosen to work all the time.
     
  20. Moonscream

    Moonscream YES, We EXIST!

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    I lived on Ft Myer and Bolling for the majority of the 90's. Is Geppi's still in Crystal City? I worked in the Pentagon so it was really easy to just go get my comics there on my lunch hour. There was also a really big store out around Woodinville that for the life of me I can't remember the name of but went almost weekly, and a tiny anime rental place (bootlegs mostly, along with lots and lots of anime 'stuff') that did good business but is probably gone now.

    I would suggest looking all over the DC Metro area for possible competition instead of just Alexandria - DC has had Katsucon for 16 years, so there is definitely a market for the kind of stuff you want to sell, but your competition may just be further out.

    --Moony
     

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