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Seeking Retail Space

Seeking Retail Space

At market I’m often asked if I have a shop and I’ve happily answered yes with the online address for some time now while my neighbour Jacqui at Bondi markets gives out her bricks and mortar shop address.

For my friend Jacqui the idea of an online shop is overwhelming with all the work that needs to be done to get it launched and going while she carries a huge amount of stock in her stunning and popular homewares shop, Damask, at Balmain.

To me the costs of setting up a bricks and mortar shop and carrying all that stock is overwhelming. It takes years for an independent shop owner to build up a fully stocked shop.

I’ve come to see over the years that it’s all a matter of perception. Another friend of mine is working on setting up a co-op to make her first move into having her own retail space.

Co-ops are focused around a theme to bring together the participants and attract customers with a similar focus.

The more I’ve learnt about the process of setting up a co-op by watching one form the more I’ve become fascinated with them, especially as a starting point.

By working as a group you get to enjoy the advantages of defraying the risks as they are spread out over a number of people, so too are the costs of rent and labour and you get to benefit from the power of a built in network of people who have their own skills and connections.

Choosing who becomes part of the co-op then becomes important because you want product, skills and financial ability to be all part of the deal.

The co-op store is staffed by the members or hired staff. The labour costs need to be determined early – who pays and how is the workers comp looked after – those details need to be nutted out in the co-op documents.

All participants need to share a vision for the co-op that enables success. This means good communication, clearly defined values, processes and expectations as well as entry and exit methods for members.

A co-op requires organisation and takes more time than expected to get it going and running from what I’ve been seeing.

Yet there’s a lot going for it, especially when you’ve picked the right group of people and their products to be involved.

It isn’t all that easy to quickly slot into an established co-op either – you need to look around for one that best suits your products and approach how you can be of benefit to them with an open mind and spirit.

Some co-ops run easily, others not so smoothly and that can come down to personalities, expectations, communication and organisation but it’s entirely possible to be part of a really good co-op too.

Some businesses might be co-op based but look like a fancy gallery of talented artisans while others may look like a hub of local creative talent all pulling together. The look and feel of the space is all to do with the choices the members make about presentation so if you’re starting one up you can make the choice to suit your vision.

So if you’re wondering how you’re going to set up a retail space to sell your designs think about co-ops and have a look around at examples with features you like and dislike to help make up your own vision.

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