LW Story- Spring 2016 , Post 4
Our Retail Space
Vendor booths left us with extra items sitting around the shop, taking up valuable shop space and got our wheels turning. How we could use this opportunity to spread out past just word of mouth? So we started to pursue the options of ways to have our extra items in the public eye, not just for a few Saturdays a year at Vendor Booths. For a hot minute we thought about opening a small store with good frontage. Definitely started to broaden our thoughts of what the next stage of growth would be…Our downtown has been steadily growing and expanding so it sounded like a neat spot for most anyone to set up shop.
Quickly saw that at this stage in our business, it would take way more man hours than we could give. And still keep our families in tack and have “real day jobs” and do custom commission builds. So before we even really begin to explore this way to get the word out about what we offer and what is unique about LW, we shelved the idea and keep thinking of other options. (Hold on to this store front idea for a later blog post. It circles back around in the most surprising way!)
From that first Vendor Booth in Fall of ’15, we were given the opportunity to have our items in a new local tArt Shop. And peaked our interest to look at expanding to more local stores. Seemed like a great partnership to pursue and support our community at the same time. And it sure did lead to sales of items we already had one hand. Pretty sweet to be able to use the items we have on had to free up our space and make connections and a little money! And a hidden bonus way to meet more makers, so quickly made this is a new focus a priority.
In that time frame, I believe we had items in 4 stores at one time! Starting to spread our reach, including items in stores in 2 neighboring cities, Lexington and Paris. Yet…it was a bit time consuming to keep up with all these stores… Especially when we had full Shop schedules with both Nick and Ryan working full time outside of Lakeside. So… We just keep stocking as best we could and stepping into all the opportunities that got laid in our laps.
At this point in the story, I should add some context to the LW Shop situation- not only was LW steadily growing, we were grabbing any and all hours we could get to be in the Shop to fulfill orders. Like orders that had money directly attached to it. So no guessing on what someone might want or it sitting on a shelf for weeks before selling. As fast as we could build it, another job would come in. All by organic marketing (as in we did nothing other than make cool stuff and try to use social media!)
And another fun aspect of the beginning of LW was that Nick and Ryan also worked together for their day jobs! Nick got Ryan a job at UK in his department, so theoretically he was kinda like Ryan’s boss. So they worked together during the day at the Dept of AG for UK and nights here at the Shop, quite possibly 7 days a week. Good thing they enjoy working together! And helps you understand how they can work together seamlessly after working together on many projects through the years. With that kind of time together, you either work in great harmony or you don’t work well together. Glad it was the first option and both our families are great friends!
Back to the retail ideas. At this point we decided to add a twist on the vendor booth idea and retails stores. We secured a booth in the local Peddler’s Mall, where you rent a booth space that is open daily and they handle all the transactions for you. Kinda like a more refined flea market, if that gives you some context. We could set up a booth any way we wanted and put any items we wanted to in it and set the price. We had shopped there many times before and actually had wandered through the aisles to get design ideas and pricing. Funny looking back that I got inspiration from the Peddler’s Mall!
Peddler’s Mall was a great place to offload all our extras and random creations, yet we could never could keep the booth stocked! From the first day and putting all of our extras in it, it was never close to full. And going by to check on it and restock just became a hassle. At an earlier time in the business maybe this would have been a profitable and good fit for us. If we had started setting time in Shop schedule to make larger quantities of smaller items…So the booth was fairly empty most of time. I had these Chip and Jo ideas, like the KY Magnolia store. I did my best to make a cool space and did have fun, yet it just never worked out as we had planned. Quite challenging to make an inviting space that flowed together with a few random pieces we had to offer for purchase. I do like the design aspect of woodworking and things like this booth helped me scratch that itch a little. (More on that idea to come in a later post!)
So we pursued the Retail Booth option the best we could and it didn’t take long to see that it was not a good fit. After some time and seeing it was not serving us at LW, we closed that door of opportunity and shut the LW Peddler’s Booth down. Again showing us that the small stuff is just not for us. One by one we stopped having items in those local stores, all for various different reasons. Pretty clear sign that this retail side was not our lane.
Take aways and joys from this season- It sure was a definite stepping stone in growth and was awesome being supported by our local community. I really enjoyed shopping in our downtown and seeing our LW creations in the store windows. I will admit I was a little sad not to be able to see our things around the community. Yet also glad I didn’t have to do restock runs and try to keep up with all the stores!
Check out pt. 5 HERE.