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Resale/Thrift Shop - "Shabby Chic"

Q. I am very interested in starting a resale/thrift shop specializing in home furnishings, tableware, women's vintage clothing, china/tea sets. (example would be "shabby chic") I shop flea markets, thrift & resale shops all over the Cleveland, Ohio area. (there are many, but mostly charities - Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc) I want my shop to have high quality merchandise that I buy at fleas, antique & thrifts & repaint, repair (minor) and resale in a beautifully merchandised shop. Maybe the shop can have a tea room also. There is nothing like this here (that I have found) there is only one store in all of Ohio that I have found that sell the "Shabby Chic" line & it is a very upscale store in a very ritzy mall.

 Where do I begin to find out whether this would be a good business to start. How do I start? I don't have much money to invest, I have found that the Cleveland Growth Association has COSE, which is a division dedicated to small businesses, they offer classes in starting your own business, but those are around $400 for a nine week class, but before I can invest $400, I want to know if it is even a good business to start. Where do I go for that kind of advice? 

The only other source I have found is Victoria Magazine's "The Business of Bliss" & "Turning your Passion into Profits" which are two books that specifically focus on starting a craft/decorating/ design/ clothing type retail shop. 

Great success stories. They also offer an Entrepreneur Seminar in NYC, where you can meet the Publisher and other women in similar businesses. I still feel as those I have much more research to do. 

I work full time, have no children & my husband wants to see a business plan before he would agree to utilize our savings for this business idea. anyway, any advice, resources, or help you can provide on what direction I should go in would be appreciated. Thank you.  -- Debbie

Advice by Deborah Brown

Dear Debbie:

Congratulations on your decision to start a business. It sounds like you have a great niche, which will make a big difference in how people listen to you when you tell them about your business.

You can start in many different ways. One way would be to research the market on the Internet to see how similar companies position themselves in the marketplace. The yellow pages would be a good source to confirm that your shop would be the only one in the area. You can drive around your neighborhood to get a sense of what would be a high traffic location for your shop.

My advice would be to start to talking to all the people you know about your idea. Get their input and their suggestions. This is a cheap way to gain valuable input. And, you never know who could be your next investor.

From a cost perspective, you could speak with real estate brokers to get an idea of what the rents are in your area. You will also need to look at your own finances to see how long you can run the business using your own cash, before you have to borrow from outside sources. You could look at the costs of starting the business in someone else's store. This would be a great way to build up financial reserves, while gaining credibility and visibility.

Do your research first before presenting your plan to your husband. And, trust that the questions you have that are keeping you from jumping in today, will be answered along the way. The main thing to always remember is that you are following your heart and your passion. The rest are details that can be worked out.

Good luck,


About the Resident Career Coach:  

Deborah Brown is a Career Coach and home based entrepreneur who has been working with Entrepreneurs, Executives, and Professionals coaching them to witness results in their careers and their lives since August 1998. She focuses on having her clients move into careers they love, revive the passion in the careers they have, and create balance in their lives. She believes that anything is possible as long as you have a plan and support to get there.  Visit http://www.surpassyourdreams.com  to find out more and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter and weekly tips.