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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
:eek:ccasion14:Hello,

So I am thinking about pursuing a life long dream of opening my own boardshop. Tired of slaving away to someone else. Ready to do it on my own.

Now, my initial thought it to open a boardshop in my hometown. The market is a decent size and not too many competitors locally. None in the immediate area.

I am looking for any advice from shop owners that were in my position in the past. Anything that you wish that you had known when you opened your first shop? What was the hardest part of owning a shop? Any advice at all? Thank you ahead of time for your advice and suggestions. :bowdown:

Trolls need not apply. Just looking to pick some brains. Feel free to PM if you don't want it out in the open.
 

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I would imagine owning a local boardshop is similiar to owning a race team.

I you want to make a small fortune you start with a large one.

I think to be competitive in this marketplace, you need to have online sales and EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE in the shop!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I would imagine owning a local boardshop is similiar to owning a race team.

I you want to make a small fortune you start with a large one.

I think to be competitive in this marketplace, you need to have online sales and EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE in the shop!
Valid points. I have a few online stores that bring in decent money, so I know the online sales side. The other stores are online art stores.
 

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Hm, if I were to be the one opening a boardshop, there are a couple things I would be doing:
1. Think, who's boards/boots/bindings/other stuff are you going to be selling?
1a. If you're going to sell Burton, try getting Restricted status, there's some neat gear to be had that's only at Restricted dealers.
2. Any services you'd be doing? I.e., edge de-tuning, waxing, repairs, setup, ect.
3. Make yourself known once the place is open. Spread the word to your friends & family who snowboard, heck, I would even be on here asking the people of the area for a visit!
4. When you need some staff, you need friendly, competent, and who snowboard themselves. Don't look for a guy who could get anyone to buy a Burton Mystery, because they can sell stuff. They won't be good for the shop's reputation. Look for guys who have a little experience, who have ridden for a long time, and compose your team of riders with different styles, so if say, I come in looking for park advice, you can send the guy who rides a ton of park out there, and if a notorious freerider comes in, you can send the guy who does a ton of freeriding to help him out.

That's my advice, but I don't own a shop, much less work at one. I'm just applying common sense and some experience at the local shop.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hm, if I were to be the one opening a boardshop, there are a couple things I would be doing:
1. Think, who's boards/boots/bindings/other stuff are you going to be selling?
1a. If you're going to sell Burton, try getting Restricted status, there's some neat gear to be had that's only at Restricted dealers.
2. Any services you'd be doing? I.e., edge de-tuning, waxing, repairs, setup, ect.
3. Make yourself known once the place is open. Spread the word to your friends & family who snowboard, heck, I would even be on here asking the people of the area for a visit!
4. When you need some staff, you need friendly, competent, and who snowboard themselves. Don't look for a guy who could get anyone to buy a Burton Mystery, because they can sell stuff. They won't be good for the shop's reputation. Look for guys who have a little experience, who have ridden for a long time, and compose your team of riders with different styles, so if say, I come in looking for park advice, you can send the guy who rides a ton of park out there, and if a notorious freerider comes in, you can send the guy who does a ton of freeriding to help him out.

That's my advice, but I don't own a shop, much less work at one. I'm just applying common sense and some experience at the local shop.
Thanks man.. all good advice
 

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Know your products and make sure your employees do as well. I used to ride for a local boardshop and initially we were drawn to them, because they carried the products we were looking for, at a better price then any other shop in the area. What ended up causing them to close their doors, was expanding to quickly, so I would suggest stay small, stay local and dont be greedy, remember owning a boardshop requires working 7 days a week for years before you'll trust someone enough to run the shop while your off riding.

good luck
 

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This may sound a bit off the wall, especially since floor space is expensive, but have a good comfortable seating area. People don't always come in alone, and whoever they are dragging along will be pushing them to finish quickly. This may not be as much of a problem for snowboarding shops, but one of the most successful women's clothing shops I've ever seen had a comfy seating area for husbands and boyfriends, complete with magazines. Sadly, management changes spelled an end to that. They're no longer in business.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This may sound a bit off the wall, especially since floor space is expensive, but have a good comfortable seating area. People don't always come in alone, and whoever they are dragging along will be pushing them to finish quickly. This may not be as much of a problem for snowboarding shops, but one of the most successful women's clothing shops I've ever seen had a comfy seating area for husbands and boyfriends, complete with magazines. Sadly, management changes spelled an end to that. They're no longer in business.
Very true. The space I have been eyeballing has ample room for seating/ othe options. It is a very large store space right in the middle of the busiest area of the city. Hopefully it is still vacant by the time I make the move.
 

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Do you have experience in running a small business? If not, it's probably going to be vastly different than anything you are expecting. Surround yourself with people who do have experience.

Getting inventory is the easy part. Getting found is much more difficult. You will spend way more time (and money) than you anticipate getting found by people. Start early! Marketing is way more consuming at first than you would imagine. Maybe in your market it's not as tough, but I have trouble believing that Baltimore will be an easy market. What type of boards are you thinking?

I wouldn't try to discourage anyone from opening a boardshop, but you will be doing bookkeeping, inventory management, budgets, dealing with permits and regulations, marketing (have I mentioned that yet?), merchandising, developing relationships with vendors, establishing accounts, logistics, negotiating, and all of that is before you get to the customer service part. And customer service needs to be excellent to stand a chance. Maybe you have experience in these areas or will hire people to do some of these things for you. Just make sure you surround yourself with the right people.

Have a clear idea of who your target audience is and how to cater to them. What are they looking for? Make sure your market exists before wasting your time, money and energy. Just because you think it's there doesn't necessarily mean that it is and even if it is, is it going to be lucrative enough for you to be able to do what you want to do?

Also make sure you start with enough money! You make it sounds like that won't be a problem and that's great...it will take more than you think and you will need operating expenses for a fair amount of time before things become self sustaining and don't forget to pay yourself.

Good Luck!
 

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Have you worked in retail or run your own business before? Because this is The Truth:

remember owning a boardshop requires working 7 days a week for years before you'll trust someone enough to run the shop while your off riding.
Other than that, establishing relationships with suppliers is key. If you're a new, unproven shop, would suppliers want your shop to carry their product?

You won't be able to compete on price with online retailers, so offer something else that they can't match, like good customer service or local knowledge.
 

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I've never run a business, so take this with MANY grains of salt.

1) I can't stand the typical board shop with hipsters working at it. My favorite board shop (sadly 3500 km away from where I live now) had clean cut people, very open isles, and good/great selection. I'd much rather buy from people wearing golf shirts than looking like mountain man.

2) Pricing has to be competitive. I don't buy that stores have to sell for more than online retailers. In fact the previously mentioned favourite shop of mine has an online store and a brick and mortar shop. Same prices in store and out, and they're generally cheaper than all other brick and mortar and online stores in Canada. (I just bought some 2013 Restricted Cartel ESTs from them for $188)

3) Sponsor events. Nothing makes me want to visit a shop more than if I've seen them or heard of them while boarding. Not sure where you're located, but some of the shops around me sponsor different events. Freestyle competitions, spring parties, etc. Title sponsorship might be cheaper than you think for some events. They're just looking for somebody to pay for the DJ and for the tent rentals sometimes. Might be a couple grand... :dunno:

4) Stock the products people want. No point in carrying brands that people have never heard of, or high end products that never sell. I'm sure you can research that, but there's probably a meaty middle of the market that consists of 80-90% of sales. Cater to them but offer to get special products in at good prices for other customers upon request. If I had a shop that was willing to dig for me to find a certain board, or other piece of gear, I'd likely keep going back.

Good luck!
 

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Land of the Potato
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Just wondering ho much experience you have running a retail store, from product ordering to book keeping to marketing and the 100 other little things it takes to run a store on a daily basis? As said before...any idea what your marketing strategy is going to be? Also you better have some deep pockets so start up the business and weather out the first couple years of minimal net profit where most new business fail.

Start to think of clientele, I know BA has said this before in other threads, but who do you think is going to come in and drop 700 on new gear for their family every other year? Not the "core" 20 year old boarders...itll be the middle class parents and new people curious with the sport. Do demo days at the local hill, hold special sale days and open houses and maybe give deals to instructors at the local hills if they recommend your store. Find out how to get the word out in your area. And as everyone has said...stellar customer service will keep those high paying customers returning and recommending your store to others. Customers, especially older customers, will find and complain about everything and anything if they dont think the customer service is satisfactory, so to compete with online stores for the love of god dont hire the punk kid who can "tear it up", hire the respectable employee who has experience working in a retail store and working on the sales floor where customer service is heavily emphasized.

if you have any ideas star throwing them out and we will help and give our probably biased opinion, as consumers in the sport, on if its good or not
 

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3) Sponsor events.
4) If I had a shop that was willing to dig for me to find a certain board, or other piece of gear, I'd likely keep going back.

Good luck!
Start to think of clientele, I know BA has said this before in other threads, but who do you think is going to come in and drop 700 on new gear for their family every other year? Not the "core" 20 year old boarders...itll be the middle class parents and new people curious with the sport. Do demo days at the local hill, hold special sale days and open houses and maybe give deals to instructors at the local hills if they recommend your store. Find out how to get the word out in your area. And as everyone has said...stellar customer service will keep those high paying customers returning and recommending your store to others. Customers, especially older customers, will find and complain about everything and anything if they dont think the customer service is satisfactory, so to compete with online stores for the love of god dont hire the punk kid who can "tear it up", hire the respectable employee who has experience working in a retail store and working on the sales floor where customer service is heavily emphasized.
Just one of those parents who turned into a geezer boarder...Poutine and Idaho Freshies notes are for me what makes a shop work. There is some stiff competition in our little town...8-9 shops in the small area. The following is a mix of things that are imho the best of those shops.

1 sponser a fs/rail jam/dj/beer garden thing in your parking lot...in the fall...sept. and have space in the store to have evening events...talk abt avy, freestyle edu, bc tours in store film fest/music cd release...have a mix of topics/presenters for the beginner to expert
2 find and dig and get parts/items for the core...we are cheap bastards that break things...pm me for a list. Perhaps a list of free repairs if you bought the new gear there...like screws, straps, ratchets. Make sure you have a very legit repair tech.
3. do an annual gear swap event for folks that want to get into the sport but don't have a couple of grand to drop on a kid....its a hassle but can get alot of folks in the store.
4 definitely have a sales/repair staff that are legit and are able to read and cater to your customer....wheather it be a kid stoakage brah thing, the mom milf thing, or the expert/technical thing.

Alot of customer service is good honest education and helpfulness...which is freely given and time consuming but expensive to the owner...But it will get you a good rep and returning customers who will be your ultimate marketing device/plan. I dropped a fair amount of $ this past year...about equally at local shops and online but those shops also referred me to get things on-line....and some stuff I said fuck it, I'll pay more cause I know I can walk right in and you will take of me (i.e., its the relationship in the shop...they know my name, what I generally like/want and even will email/call if something comes in that I might be interested in) and who knows about the web tards...except for a very select few on-line.

edit: Hire to your weakness. A person can't do everything well...so know your deficits and then go and hire the best folks that can do what you can't and then get out of their way.
 

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The potential for profit from selling goods is always nice, but the potential is so much greater with services and rentals. I know as shop here that has survived for YEARS on just that - they rent/demo skis/boards, and they do board repairs and tuning. The major difference? The people who do the services are extremely knowledgeable and riders themselves. I'm a regular customer (very regular, I seem to mess up my boards frequently) and they're always happy to see me and ask how everything is doing. When I first got interested in riding Bataleon, they were the first to provide their experiences and tips to getting used to the TBT. While they're a Ride/K2/Rossingnol-heavy shop, they don't push a certain brand - they've always been happy to recommend Bataleon, NS, Capita, etc.

So the real trick? Workers who know what they're talking about, can broadcast that to a wide range of skill levels, and are largely non-partisan when it comes to recommended gear. All hard to find, but when you do, take care of them and they'll keep your business going for a while.
 

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It is a very large store space right in the middle of the busiest area of the city. Hopefully it is still vacant by the time I make the move.
I owned/ran my business for 17 years and moved it 3 times. Moving is nothing compared to making the wrong decision in the first place.

Take your time while time doesn't cost you anything. Pull the trigger on your start up when you have checked/double checked/triple checked your plan, not when your future landlord is ready, not when your finance company wants you to start, not when your suppliers/credit card clearer/ISP/etc. wants you to start.

Because once you start, the clock starts ticking and it NEVER stops. After that, every minute is money owed for rent/salaries/inventory/loans. Finding a free hour to think/plan becomes a luxury and you will make poor decisions because you're rushed. If you have planned well in the unrushed pre-opening stage, then those bad decisions will be fairly minor in scale
 

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This may sound silly, but create a business plan. There are many guides on how to do so. It is a great exercise. It will help you plan and give you a sense of what to expect. The number one reason businesses fail is due to a lack of cash flow, which is different than income. A good business plan will have a marketing plan, business structure, revenue forecasts, etc.

I would also echo what vltsai suggested. Servicing equipment can have a lot higher profit margins and you don't have as much money or credit sunk into inventory.
 

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whenever BA finds this thread and posts in it: listen to what he says even though you probably won't like to hear it.... this isn't to say it can't be done, but don't dismiss him as a pissy negative-nancy.

might pm gilly - i think he has a shop on the EC if i remember right...

hope you like top ramen, tuna fish... maybe cat food :D
 

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This may sound a bit off the wall, especially since floor space is expensive, but have a good comfortable seating area. People don't always come in alone, and whoever they are dragging along will be pushing them to finish quickly. This may not be as much of a problem for snowboarding shops, but one of the most successful women's clothing shops I've ever seen had a comfy seating area for husbands and boyfriends, complete with magazines. Sadly, management changes spelled an end to that. They're no longer in business.

x2

my bf drags me to the hardware store all the time. I say "only if we can go to the one that has the comfy patio furniture"

I usually just play with my phone, no magazines required but a couple comfy chairs are a nice feature. I fucking hate going to the paint store, there's no where to sit and it pisses me off lol.
 

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Do you know what you will do/sell in the off-season? I run a business, though not in retail. In looking at seasonal retail/service companies (ones that I've considered and those locally that failed), you need an off-season plan.
 

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Good point about off season. The shop I go to switches up their main focus to patio furniture in the warm months. Right now it is prob 85-90% snow gear with a small section of furniture set ( great for seating fir those who got "dragged along"). I'm guessing in July it will be the opposite
 
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