It’s Wednesday! Time for our Vendor Series! In case you are wondering what that is – every Wednesday I discuss all of the down and dirty details when it comes to being a vendor in an antique mall or market. The BEST way for you to not miss anything in this series is to sign up to have my blog posts delivered to your Inbox. You can do that HERE. I have also set up a private Facebook Group for vendors only. This is for existing vendors and is a place for us to connect with other vendors across the country to vent, support, and bounce ideas off of each other. It is a great group full of awesomely talented people! If you are a vendor come join us! Click HERE to join the Vendors Only! Facebook Group.
If you missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.
Today we are discussing the pros and cons of renting space in an Antique Mall, Vendor Mall, or Market. I have had a great experience running the retail side of my business renting space in vendor malls or markets. I rent space in 3 different stores and each one of them operate differently. They are all unique and have different strengths or reasons why I chose to rent space there.
So why do I personally choose to run my business this way? I have a Commercial Banking background and I have seen many retail stores fail (and I have seen many succeed). A retail store, especially when it comes to home decor and furniture, is considered one of the highest risk loans a bank can lend to. I also know how much of a time commitment it is to run your own store. You have to be married to it. Obsessed with it. You have to LOVE it and when you want to divorce it, you still have to show up and turn the lights on each and every day.
I’m not saying owning a retail store is a bad thing. I still have a desire to open a paint studio with a retail component someday – but today is not that day. I have a 3.5 year old and I am cookin’ another one in my oven as we speak. It is NOT the season in my life to own a store.
Renting space is the ideal situation for me.
Here are some of the Pros and Cons to consider when deciding if renting space in a Market is right for you.
You don’t have to work there. There are no set hours for you to clock in and clock out. You can have a flexible schedule and bring new inventory or restage at a time that works for you. I have heard of a few markets requiring one Saturday a month or a certain amount of hours that need to be worked monthly. I don’t think this is the norm, is in exchange for reduced rent, or are part of a co-op where the vendors have some sort of ownership in the store. It varies from different regions but most vendors would say they do not have any set hours they are required to work in the store.
No Sales Tax Paperwork: The market you rent space from should take care of the sales tax paperwork. Sales Tax is collected differently in each state, but since the store is collecting the cash from the customers they are most likely responsible for filing the monthly sales tax on the items sold in the store. You will still have to file an annual Federal Tax Return (hello April 15th!). PS: Working in banking I can say April 15th is one of the busiest days of the year for liquor stores. Ha!
The Foot Traffic. The amount of people walking through the doors in a large store or a market is much greater than having a stand alone store. Plus, if there are 100 vendors renting suites in the store then there are 100 vendors marketing the store on their Facebook Pages, social media, telling their friends, family, and neighbors. That’s a lot of people with the same common goal.
Someone Else Get to Handles the Headaches. If a pipe bursts in the store, you aren’t the one who has to clean it up and call the insurance company. You don’t have to deal with the alarm company, the trash bill, the electric bill, the credit card processing, making sure a busted window get repaired, and all of the other fun duties that come with owning a store.
It’s Affordable: Usually the rent and fees are less than it would be for you to rent a retail store. You will probably have less space than you would renting an entire store but your overhead is much less as well.
You Are Not In Control: Most likely any market you rent from will not run their store the same way you would run your own store. Sometimes their taste, style, or budget won’t always line up with what you would envision for marketing, displays, sales flyers, and advertising. I really try to stay out of giving my two cents about any of the stores I rent from marketing unless they ask for my opinion. You aren’t driving the train so you gotta be okay with how the store represents their brand.
Customer Service: Sometimes you will get complaints about customer service. This has only happened to me a few times, but it can be unnerving when you hear feedback that your store wasn’t treating a customer the way you would. Have an open line of communication with the owner or the manager. Give them the feedback, not to chastise them or get an employee in trouble, but to help them do better. A good store owner will want to know if there is an issue. On the other hand, when you get positive feedback about the service from your vendor mall, make sure you give them that feedback as well. They deserve to know they are doing a great job!
The Cost: I know I said renting space in an antique store is an affordable way to have a retail business, but the fees can add up. For me personally, the fees and rent are worth every penny. But to others, they might gasp when they see how much is taken out of their checks each month. In addition to rent, a store will usually take out a percentage of each transaction plus an additional percentage if the item is paid for with a credit card. I will talk about fees more in depth next week, but this can be a pro or a con, depending on your comfort level.
Organization: There have been times when I walked into my suite at one of my locations and there were open coke cans, trash on the floor, and a knocked over display in my area. It looked like a homeless shelter. I don’t mind if my space is a little messy because it means people have been shopping there – but when a store has 100 or more vendors, it can be hard for the store’s employees to keep an eye on every single space. Visit your space often to make sure it’s picked up. I like to visit my stores on Thursdays, before the weekend rush, so it looks it’s best during the busiest sales days.
Renting space in someone else’s store can be a great way to dip your toe in the retail pond. It’s also a good way to gauge if you really want to open your own stand alone store. Renting also provides a tremendous amount of flexibility that store ownership does not afford. But to ENJOY working in markets or vendor malls YOU have to be flexible as well.
Question: If you are a vendor what do you feel are the pros and cons to renting space? Have you had a good experience or was it a rocky road? And if you are considering renting space in a store – what is holding you back? Join the convo by leaving a comment or joining us on Facebook and Instagram!
Next week I will talk about finding the right market for your items, what to look for when finding your retail home, and what to expect to pay in fees and rent. YES- I am going to give you all the details on what I personally pay each of my stores. I’m not skeered. Don’t miss it and subscribe to get our posts delivered daily.