Joined Dec 2004
We started a airplane only hobby shop 3 years ago in a town of about 50,000 people. Every hobby shop that has opened in this town has closed within a couple of years. We, on the other hand, have been growing every year and expanding our shop. We started out renting a 1200 sq. ft. building, expanded into 2400 sq. ft. after 3 months. Last year we purchased a 5000 sq. ft building and have expanded into helicopters, cars, puzzles, science projects, slot cars, etc. Despite what some people will have you believe, it is very possible to have a successful hobby shop in this economy and it will only grow as the economy improves.
This is my recipe for a viable hobby shop:
1. Have a mininum of $100,000.00 startup money and enough saving to live on for the first year. Reinvest all your profits from the first year in the business and 50% every other year until you are comfortable with the size of your shop.
2. Have extensive knowledge in the products you are selling. You have to know more than anyone else and be able to help everyone that comes in the door.
3. Be prepared to spend 80+ hours a week for the first 2 years and do not hire anyone. You are the face behind your business and people will buy from you because they like you. If you hire people at this point, you will pay them valuable profits that could be used to expand your business. You also put your future in their hands before your reputation is established.
4. Buy a good website program and Adobe photoshop. Learn to use them and create your own website and advertisements.
5. Find a rental building in a good location. Right now, you should be able to find a good place for .50 per sq/ft. Your building should be no less than 2000 sq. ft. You will need a workshop and an area for Helicopter demos and flight simulator.
6. Make sure you don't get bitter about people coming in and asking you for advice so they can purchase online. Some people just like to buy things online and you will be able to get their business for things like hardware and props in the future. Some business is better than none.
7. Match Tower and Horizon prices on all the products you sell. You will still have a decent profit margin on most items and once people know your prices are inline, you stand a good chance to gain some of that online business. Don't gouge people on anything - give them a fair price and they will respond positively!
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