Taking space in a shop

I’ve always been nervous of renting space in a shop rather than selling on a commission basis and giving a percentage of the sale price to the shop owner. But find the right shop and I’m convinced it just might work.

Reasonably, a shop owner is going to need a regular income and, just as reasonably, I would prefer to hand over only a part of the value of items that actually sell. For the owner, its about predictability and for me it’s about cash flow. So the key has to be finding the right shop. Recently, I’ve taken a 2 metre by 1 metre space in MoJo’s Curios in my local town of Aberfeldy.

Moira Edwards of MoJo’s Curios

Mo is someone I’ve enjoyed working with for a while now – her previous space was Upstairs at Doig’s, in the upper level of a clothing shop in Aberfeldy. It was an interesting space but difficult to find. With limited window display and storage space, it was a tough sell and with some days of no sales, Mo must have found it soul-destroying at times. To give her and her wonderful other half Jo their due, they tried very hard and people did come and sales were made. I was not too unhappy as I only paid for what I sold.

But like sunshine after rain, they’ve now moved to a ground floor shopfront with huge windows, lots of space, great lighting and their own fantastic interior décor. There will be coffee and comfy seats, a Plastic Free Delivery products area, upstairs room for future Reiki classes and lots of space for Mo’s fantastic taste to shine through. Surrounded by other interesting shops and very close to the Co-op, the footfall is many times better than before and sales are already up.

There are lots of reasons for different groups of people to come in and come often – it won’t just be antique and vintage hunters, but also people attending events, wanting a coffee and a book, attending classes or visiting to top up on their plastic-free wrapping sheets, pan scrubbers or long-life straws.

Rainbows and Brown String at MoJo’s Curios

OK, so I need to sell more than I pay in rent each month to break even and the profit only comes after that – it’s a risk and I could be in a large loss position in a few months if things don’t work out, but only the brave win! It’s good discipline for me too – I aim to change the look of my space each month. At first, I will work with colour themes and festivals so I will need to prepare displays well in advance, but that is a part of the process that I love.

One challenge is that my pricing has to match with Mo’s. Having worked my way through French village jumble sales and Glasgow East End markets (at Barras Art and Design and Super Market), I’m not used to high street retail overheads. It’s tempting to price items to sell for faster turnover, but if I set my prices too low I could undercut Mo and other dealers in the shop and still fail to cover my monthly rent! So, Mo and I will just have to do what we love best – chatting, buying and selling.

I’m so excited… [cue dancing in the street, doing high kicks wearing ankle warmers – it’s a retro thing!]

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