When I first tried explaining my occasional shop concept to friends, they were royally confused. But, as time goes on the concept is picking up more and more in interest and understanding. To be an occasional shop, it simply means that, you are open occasionally. Now some shops open every Friday/Saturday or every weekend, some open once a month, and some are just open a few months out of the year. Whatever the schedule the idea is simple.
Opening up less frequently actually brings in more customers and decreases the owners expenses. Think about it. If I’m open less, that means I’m not hiring someone to work, not keeping the heat on as much, not paying as much on my electric bill, etc. But, I am creating an event, a sense of urgency that brings in customers.
My shop is located in a town of about 5000 people and we are considered the “big town.” When I worked at a few retail spaces on the square there were days when NO ONE came into the store. Now my personality does not do well with down time. So I could not see myself sitting in a store day after day and maybe have a customer. I’m sure there are some of you reading this that can relate!
I talked with many occasional shop owners before I decided to go for it. Being open once a month works well for me because everyone comes the four days I am open and I am not sitting twirling my thumbs. This concept also works perfectly for me because I sell antiques/junk/collectibles/vintage. These items do not simply get delivered cleaned and ready to price. It takes time to locate items, clean them, prep them, repair them, repurpose them, price them, etc. So during the time I am not open I get my inventory ready. Another thing I decided to do with my shop was
to rearrange the entire shop every month. I do this for multiple reasons. One, I love to decorate and create vignettes. Secondly, moving things around creates a new look for the shop. Maybe the item, in it’s new location, attracts the attention of a buyer that was in there the previous month, but they didn’t see the item in it’s old location.
Customers know that if they like your merchandise they must come when you are open. Not only does an occasional shop attract customers, but it also saves you money. I keep me heat and air turned down when I am not open. I don’t use as much electricity. I don’t have to find good workers and deal with all of the things that come with having employees. And perhaps most importantly the occasional shop model gives you flexibility. Flexibility to take care of children, get to appointments, run errands, get sick, go on vacation… That is probably one of the best reasons.
So, what is an occasional shop? It’s the new trend in small business. By opening up less frequently, hopefully more small businesses will thrive.