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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘starting the store’

Bad news

Let me be brief: I’m not opening a store any time soon.

Yup, after spending the last year writing a business plan, doing market research, and building interest, I’m going to have to set aside the plans to open The Bead and Bean (and Broads and Bullets and Brews and I forget what the other thing was), at least for now.

Apparently I should have taken a few steps earlier that I waited to take till I had my stuff together better.  One of those things was sitting down with somebody from the bank and talking turkey.  ‘Cause it turns out, the turkey is me.

The short version is that after a brief presentation of my business plan to a panel of four mentors, they’re very impressed with the work I’ve done and the passion I have for my dreams and ideas, but – here’s the kicker – money talks.  And I’d have to have an awful lot of it to get a lease.  In my case, around $50,000.

Once the hysterical laughter subsided and I picked myself back up off the floor, I realized they weren’t kidding and there’s no way I can do this.  I mean, really?  Fifty grand?  Ain’t gonna happen unless I win the lottery, and you can’t win if you don’t play.  So I’m out.

Now, the good news is that by waiting, I’ll be able to open the store at a better time, when the economy is stronger and I’m in a better position to make it all work.  I mean, there really isn’t any advantage to opening a store now.  Let’s be realistic.  Consumer spending is starting to come back up, but it’s still pretty darned low.  And the commercial real estate market isn’t like the residential market; all those empty buildings are not causing lessors to lower their rates.  So there wouldn’t be an upside to opening now anyways.

Still, it’s pretty disappointing for me to have to do a 180 on this, especially since I could have spent the past year improving and refining my presentation for market.  But you know, I’m still teaching, and I’m still offering classes and parties, and I’m still selling online.  And I’m not giving up, not by far.  Just going to focus on those aspects of the biz for now, and leave the store for later.

So it’s bad news.  But it’s better than opening the store in ignorance and failing miserably!

Coffee Fest part deux

IT.  WAS.  EPIC.

We missed Saturday unfortunately, due to a decided lack of sleep on my part, and Rosi missed Sunday due to a previous engagement.  But still, it was awesome.

Friday we dressed casual and sat in a bunch of seminars.  Learned SO MUCH!  One of the classes was a short version of “Barista 101” which I wished had lasted 10x as long.  Another one wasn’t so good; the presentation had no flow to it and the guy jumped around a lot, but at the same time I have to cut him some slack b/c his laptop had been stolen out of his car the night before.

Then we hit the show floor and checked out some of the vendors.  I’ll be honest with you, we got ignored a lot.  We were surrounded by snappily dressed people who looked like professionals, and we didn’t really feel comfortable.  But we got a little info, and we got a feel for what was where.

Saturday I was soooooo tired that I just gave up on the whole thing.  I feel really bad for Rosi, she got up and get ready and headed down to the ferry, only to have me bail on her.  Mea culpa, seeester!  🙁  It’s really too bad, too, b/c there was a Retailers Roundtable that I was very interested in attending.

But Sunday was really fun.  I ended up on a later ferry than I expected due to a few last-minute things, so I missed the first couple classes I wanted to attend.  Then, the buses in Seattle were rerouted due to the President’s visit, and our driver missed a turn!  So I ended up walking an extra four blocks or so, which made me late for the last class I was really interested in taking.  Fortunately, I got there in time for the Latte Art championship.  I hadn’t planned to attend that at all, but I figured it might be interesting, and the convention wasn’t open yet anyways.  It was so fun!  I ended up sitting near the mom of one of the baristas, and we got to chatting as the contest went on.  It turns out that she beads too!  So I’ll be letting her know when we open the store, and she’ll come visit.  Her son won the competition, and I had a little geek-out moment and got a photo of the two of them, which was funny.

I was so impressed with the art tho.  There are four basic shapes they can pour: circles, hearts, tulips, and rosettas.  They can also add details by dragging the foam or adding syrup, but for this content they only poured the designs.  Sometimes the two baristas in a heat would do very similar designs, other times they would do completely different things.  But it was all amazing.  Made me want to learn it myself!  Perhaps we’ll come up with a design for our store, maybe something evocative of our logo…

After my experience Friday, I decided to dress up a bit more for Sunday.  I took nice shoes to change into, wore jewelry, did my hair nice, etc.  Sure enough, I got a lot more attention from the vendors.  My goal for Sunday was to talk to roasters, which I did quite successfully.  Got a bunch of contact info, took it down to a short list of 4-5 to follow up with.  Accepted offers of lattes and espresso and all sorts of coffee…  And guess what?  I discovered that (while I can’t really tell good coffee from bad coffee) I no longer get the funky headaches!  So I became a coffee drinker today.

At about 1 (I think) I took a break to sit down and see if I’d missed anything I wanted to see.  When I came out of the convention floor, I noticed that everybody was at the windows looking at something.  I popped over and saw that the streets under us had been blocked off.  Not three minutes later, the President’s motorcade passed right under us, on the way to the Paramount.  So I guess my unplanned detour wasn’t for nothing, right?

Short story long, I got a bunch of goodies, and a bunch of information, and even some potential customers.  All in all, it was an extremely useful weekend.

Oh, and as I was waiting for the ferry, I got to hear the cheers from the stadium, telling me that my Seahawks finally won a game.  Huzzah!

Coffee Fest

This weekend is Coffee Fest Seattle!  I’m really excited to be going, since I actually know just about nothing in regards to coffee.  Well, I know that it gives me funny headaches, and I know that I’m going to be selling it in my store.  But most importantly, I know that I need to know more about it.

So I am therefore devoting the weekend to learning about coffee.  Rosi and I will be spending 2-3 days at the Convention Center in Seattle, attending workshops, trying to find suppliers, etc.  Hopefully we’ll at least get an idea of what’s out there.

You’ll probably get one lump description at the end, since I’ll be playing my last two gigs with No Baggage this weekend.  So I won’t have much time for blogging, or anything else for that matter.  “Albert?  Who’s Albert?”

Putting it off again…

Today I got some pretty lousy news.  I’m not going to be able to open my store this fall.  (Insert weeping and gnashing of teeth.)

Before I can open, obviously I have to have the store ready – in particular I need to have the cafe area prepped, which will likely include plumbing work.  This, of course, requires a permit from the county, and these are running at least 3 weeks behind.  But before I can even start that, I need the lease, for which I need the funding.  And the funding is taking a couple months.

So…  On to the next plan.  Unfortunately, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and do house parties, classes at community centers, events at churches, etc.

This is all very disappointing, but it will put me in a better position to get funding in the spring; I’ll have a longer history, some funds set aside already, and a proven, not just prospective, customer base.  With all that, I’ll be a much more attractive lending prospect and should be able to get the financing I need faster and with better terms.

That is, if the economic system hasn’t been completely toasted by then.  Fingers crossed!

The bottom line is, look for the Bead and Bean to open spring of 2012.

Extended absence

Yes, I know I’ve been gone for a while.  I’ve been losing my mind, trying to get this business off the ground, and I haven’t taken the time to update you all here.  So please accept my apologies.

I’m actually running out the door in a few minutes, heading for CASH class.  It’s week 7 – we’re almost done – and tonight we’re working on our business plans.  I was aiming for about 30 pages…  Think it’s going to turn out closer to 40 or so.  We’ll see.  Tomorrow I’m singing the national anthem for the Bluejackets, then jetting to family dinner.  It was my turn to cook, but daMama traded with me.

Albert’s dad is supposed to be coming up soon to visit, so that’ll be awesome.  Still waiting to hear about Tuck and Jan’s house and find out when my partner is leaving me.  X-(  I shouldn’t complain, it’s been a great 16 months!  I started playing Frontierville on Facebook…  Don’t really know why, I just decided one day that I would.  Stupid game is addicting.  But it makes for a good mental break when I hit the wall on legitimate projects.

Anyhoo, I’ll try to keep the blog updated more regularly.  What the point of an empty blog is, I really don’t know!

CASH class starts tomorrow!

Oh, I’m so excited!  Deirdre and I both got into the Washington CASH program’s small business class!  The next eight weeks we’ll be learning how to start and run our business.  That means pricing, accounting, marketing, the whole nine yards.

I’ll confess that I’m a little nervous.  Last week was the introductory/informational class, where we got a good idea of who might be in the program.  Each of us had to get up and introduce ourselves, saying what we wanted to do.  Am I nervous, of course not!  I get up in front of a room full of strangers on a weekly basis!  Me?  Nervous?  Surely you jest…

About eight or ten people in, this gal stands up and I think maybe I’ve seen her before.  Then she introduces herself and I know I’ve seen her before.  Her name is Beth, and she’s the competition.  *sigh*

Yep, of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine…  So here I am, talking about how I’m going to open this amazing bead store that offers stuff nobody else does, and here’s part of that nobody!  Oh crap, here we go.

Now it’s really good for me to get used to talking up myself to the competition.  I really need to work on my self-confidence.  After all, nobody else is going to build my business for me, I have to do it myself, right?  So I’m going to work on tooting my own horn.

Hopefully that’s one of the things we’re going to practice in this class.  I’m really looking forward to it!  Not just for the learning part, but also to join a group of folks in a similar position as me.  Newbies with great ideas and big plans, who maybe aren’t sure exactly how to get those ideas off the ground.  A peer group, you know.

The financing and pro bono legal help won’t hurt, either!

So I’ll try to keep you all posted on how things go in class, what I learn as the weeks go by.  Fingers crossed!