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Thread: Is a store front worth it??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    77

    Question Is a store front worth it??

    Many of you, like myself, run your laser businesses out of your house/home shop and it works fine. I have a shop behind my house that is dedicated to my laser business. I am curious, for those of you that started in your home but now have some sort of a store front location, what was the deciding factor to move? Has your local traffic increased with the store front location?
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    NW Arkansas
    Posts
    1,339
    I've been debating this for a year.... I'm 3 miles from main highway in one direction, and then 3 miles from the closest town. So 6 miles from business section. The opposite direction is about 5. But I get a LOT of business from the two adjacent cities as they are about 15 miles from the house. So I can move to the closest town and maybe increase some sales, but still would be 10-12 miles from the towns nearby. I figure that I could easily double or maybe triple walk in business. But I would have to man the store just as long as now, and I do decent in late evening, 'after work' drop off. That would mean say 10am-7pm or maybe 8pm at least a couple of nights. A LOT of expense with the store..... And I do somewhat need to be here for my wife. Is it worth it? Not yet.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Georgia, USA
    Posts
    308
    There are people making a decent living from walk-in business but I think the first question is whether walk-in business is what makes sense to pursue. It sounds like there is going to be a lot of expense up front to get a storefront going and then additional ongoing expenses you are not experiencing now. Would it be better to take that money and apply it toward marketing to acquire/build non walk-in business that is higher margin and doesn't require you to move? Only you can work through the numbers to answer that.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Gig Harbor, WA
    Posts
    1,113
    Depending on the location you will have a rent, electrical, phone/internet , etc payment you did not have yesterday. If you have a customer base that will support the added expense that's great. If not you have to get the word out that you have moved, are new to community and have the unique ability to do something that no one in the community can do. Plan on 2-3 years to establish a new business, that is a basic fact.

    When I opened my store front 23 years ago I was a Trophy Shop. I still have all the equipment I had when I started but now I am more a commercial business (80%), supporting other business. Most of my customers place internet orders for pick-up on a regular basis. No doubt this is the case for most of us in business. (The job base changes over time.)

    Best of luck


    .
    Mark
    In the Great Northwest!

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  5. #5
    My worth

    Up until Google blessed (cursed?) me with free advertising a few years ago, we had virtually zero 'walk-in' customers, since 1969. Until Google, all of our customers were word-of-mouth offshoots from my dad's work buddies at Litton 50+ years ago. Many of these guys moved on from Litton; one went to work for Edo Western, one with Univac, one started a for-hospital computer business, couple of others started machine shops and injection molding shops-- and they all needed engraving of one sort or another, so they called my dad... And their work buddies and employees then knew where to get the engraving done, some of them moved on to other jobs, etc etc...

    --aside from placing our name in the yellow pages, we have never advertised or solicited work. Our only 'street work' came from our customer's families and friends, who needed the occasional watch or baby spoon engraved...

    Then a few years ago, we started getting cold calls, and that's when I found out we could be found on the internet via search engine!

    For MOST people in this business, the possible increase in sales from free internet advertising would be a welcome windfall! But for me, it's been nothing but a headache. May sound a little crass, but it's true. My current non-solicited industrial oriented work load keeps me SO busy- 16-7 for a long time now- that dealing with cold-call/walk-in business is little more than a time-sucking distraction. Sounds a little crass but it's true...

    As I type this, my BIL is working on a walk-in project I gave to him, a pair of wooden hearts a customer made & brought in, they each need a single name across one of the top arcs. Simple, right? He's pulling his hair out because the guys wife has, no less than 4 times, thrown out his design proofs; font isn't right; name isn't in the right place on the arc; it's on the wrong side of the heart; the heart (asymmetrical) is oriented wrong... He's already spent maybe 45 minutes of computer time on just orienting these 2 names, and still doesn't have a go-ahead...

    THAT is walk-in work, and while not the norm, these kinds of customer interactions are fairly typical. If this type of work is your mainstay, you learn to deal with it, price accordingly, etc. But if you're used to work like mine, where customers already know exactly what they want you to do and supply you with the parts (usually) and computer-ready art/prints/diagrams/etc, you may find walk-in work riding the edge of 'not worth the trouble'...

    Still, I rarely turn it down (I'm just glad it's not MY mainstay!)
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    77
    Thanks to all that have responded. The majority of my work is like what Kev has described. The customer know what they want, sends the parts and then I send them back. I would much rather do that kind of business but like you Kev, I rarely turn down a local customer.
    Universal 60w VLS6.60 w/ rotary
    RayFine 30w MOPA (on order)
    Corel X8, Photoshop

    Fab shop with South Bend Heavy 10, Bridgeport 9x42, 185a welder and a multitude of supporting tools/equipment

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Sammamish, WA
    Posts
    7,565
    I was the opposite, added the laser to my existing storefront sign business that had been well established for 20 years. The rent, utilities, business insurance and payroll are definitely negatives unless you can Do a LOT of business. When I moved home and went to only laser work the rent was going from $2,100 to $3,200, so I told the landlord “no thanks.”
    I also lost a few really good laser customers who bought their own machines. My work now is just a few good customers, wholesale, with maybe 5-6 weekends a year for extra vacation money to supplement a regular job I have now.



    Sammamish, WA

    Epilog Legend 24TT 45W, had a sign business for 17 years, now just doing laser work on the side.

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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    My worth

    Up until Google blessed (cursed?) me with free advertising a few years ago, we had virtually zero 'walk-in' customers, since 1969. Until Google, all of our customers were word-of-mouth offshoots from my dad's work buddies at Litton 50+ years ago. Many of these guys moved on from Litton; one went to work for Edo Western, one with Univac, one started a for-hospital computer business, couple of others started machine shops and injection molding shops-- and they all needed engraving of one sort or another, so they called my dad... And their work buddies and employees then knew where to get the engraving done, some of them moved on to other jobs, etc etc...

    --aside from placing our name in the yellow pages, we have never advertised or solicited work. Our only 'street work' came from our customer's families and friends, who needed the occasional watch or baby spoon engraved...

    Then a few years ago, we started getting cold calls, and that's when I found out we could be found on the internet via search engine!

    For MOST people in this business, the possible increase in sales from free internet advertising would be a welcome windfall! But for me, it's been nothing but a headache. May sound a little crass, but it's true. My current non-solicited industrial oriented work load keeps me SO busy- 16-7 for a long time now- that dealing with cold-call/walk-in business is little more than a time-sucking distraction. Sounds a little crass but it's true...

    As I type this, my BIL is working on a walk-in project I gave to him, a pair of wooden hearts a customer made & brought in, they each need a single name across one of the top arcs. Simple, right? He's pulling his hair out because the guys wife has, no less than 4 times, thrown out his design proofs; font isn't right; name isn't in the right place on the arc; it's on the wrong side of the heart; the heart (asymmetrical) is oriented wrong... He's already spent maybe 45 minutes of computer time on just orienting these 2 names, and still doesn't have a go-ahead...

    THAT is walk-in work, and while not the norm, these kinds of customer interactions are fairly typical. If this type of work is your mainstay, you learn to deal with it, price accordingly, etc. But if you're used to work like mine, where customers already know exactly what they want you to do and supply you with the parts (usually) and computer-ready art/prints/diagrams/etc, you may find walk-in work riding the edge of 'not worth the trouble'...

    Still, I rarely turn it down (I'm just glad it's not MY mainstay!)

    How did Google bless (curse) you with free advertising?
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  9. #9
    Not a clue, to be honest. And 'free advertising' may be stretching the term, it more of a 'business listing', but from the getgo they had my website address, physical address and phone number, and for the past couple of years we're on their 'street view, so anyone on the planet can see our house now... They send me emails with instructions to change my listing, which I did recently, they showed me open 24hrs (lol), and listed as a "trophy shop"; I put in actual working hours and explained that I'm predominately industrial, which HAS helped with the cold calls ... When the 4th came around they sent me emails to remind me to add 'closed on the 4th' to the ad if I wanted...

    I never asked for or have ever paid for the listing.

    I used to be on Yelp too, I asked them to remove me. I'm not even sure they did
    4 LASERS -- Gravograph LS900 -- GCC Explorer -- Triumph 1390 -- Triumph Galvo Fiber
    10 CNC ROTARY ENGRAVERS -- NH C2000 -- NH V3200 -- NH V3400 x2 -- NH V3400CL rotary -- NH V5000 -- NH V5000XT x2 -- Gravograph IS400 -- Gravograph IS7000
    Vinyl: NH 20" vinyl cutter
    Extraction: 3 -HF 'green' blowers, 1 HF 'big' blower
    4 -air compressors, 3 -drill presses, 3 -grinders, 3 -shears, 4 -saws, mini-lathe


  10. In my small town I wouldn’t be able to support a stand-alone laser engraving business. But I already owned a successful art gallery, landscape photography, picture framing, gift store, leather working kinda place. Adding a laser in 2015 was the best thing I ever did. Even though I have a large workshop, I put the laser right in the store where people can watch it, and they love to watch it. Initially, I bought the laser to engrave picture mats then we discovered all the other things it can do. I love turning a 2 ft. piece of barnwood (that didn’t cost a dollar) into a $50 sign.

    Bob

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