Being a handmade business owner comes in all different shapes and sizes. Typically a handmade business owner starts out with a hobby they feel passionate about, and then they dream of doing what they love as a business. Some take it to an online shop, some teach, some commission or license their work, and yes, some others actually open up their very own brick and mortar shop.
With everyone shopping online these days, and plenty of brick and mortar shops closing on a regular basis in every town, you would think that owning a brick and mortar as a handmade business isn’t very smart. But I’m here to tell you otherwise. I think a handmade business is the perfect scenario for opening up a brick and mortar.
Even though people enjoy the speed of which places online like Amazon can deliver their products, that doesn’t mean they aren’t craving a fun destination. A place where it’s just not about running in to make a quick purchase. A place where they can have an enjoyable, memorable experience. This is exactly the type of setting handmade business owners can bring to a brick and mortar.
Take The Collective LHE shop in Lisle, IL for example. One of the owners, Jen Rizzo has been a handmade business owner for 20+ years. In opening this shop she has brought a fresh, new vibrancy to her little town. She coordinates events by involving the other local business owners and has created a place that now is a destination for many other creative folks to put on their bucket list. The shop features products made by local artisans, classes and workshops that teach a wide variety of crafts, and best of all, the owners love to share all of their how-to knowledge.
This business model requires the owner to think in terms of sharing vs. selling to captivate a loyal customer base. Not so different than what the online business owner needs to do. You need to allow the audience to know and trust you by sharing what it is you have to offer. When a brick and mortar engages with the customer and shares their knowledge on what they are selling, this makes all the difference in the world to the customer.
For instance, if you are a painter, your brick and mortar could offer classes to teach some painting techniques, as well as selling your custom work and painting supplies. Your knowledge of paints and quality should be shared with the customer so they too can make an informed buying decision. But at the same time they will come to trust you as an authority figure, which means they will definitely be a repeat customer.
So thinking in terms of providing tremendous value (aka, customer service), is the name of the game these days. We have plenty of “speedy” sales opportunities for our everyday needs. When you are providing a premium product, make sure the entire experience is premium as well. This is how brick and mortar businesses will not just survive, but thrive.
Personally, I think every town needs a new shop owned by a handmade business owner. They bring creativity and fun which is the type of destination everyone wants in a small town.
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