We're two sisters who are craft book publishers and found ourselves in the midst of an avocado grove. We bought this house where we planned to conduct our publishing business and in the deal got 4 acres of avocado trees thrown in. Now we're not only publishers but ranchers as well! This blog is all about avocados and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sepia Saturday #143 Location location location


This week's Sepia Saturday theme is about shops, shopping, retail, etc.  So of course, I must write about our foray into the retail business.

In the early 1960s Barbara and I had taken a trip to Mexico (which I've blogged about previously) and we loved Mexico so much that we had the cockamamy idea that if we opened a Mexican shop, we could take lots of buying trips to Mexico.

So we jumped right in and opened Ole! Mexican gift shop in Los Angeles. We were on Third Street, 2 blocks from the world famous Farmers Market. We actually thought this was a good location. We didn't notice that there was absolutely no foot traffic on that particular street. And people went to Farmers Market and left - they didn't walk two blocks to visit a Mexican Gift Shop. We weren't that stupid, though. We thought that if you had the right merchandise and got lots of word of mouth, your shop would be successful no matter where you were.  This is the rationale most people make when the rent is very cheap.

This is a photo of the front of the store (I've posted this before - but have to use it again because it goes so well with the theme). I wish this photo was in color because the shop was very cute. It was painted black and the sign was a very bright fuchsia. All of the items in the window were very bright and colorful.



Here's a look at the inside of the store:

Barbara looking so happy and showing off some of the merchandise
We made our second buying trip to Mexico to restock. We checked out the shops and markets of Tlaquepaque, a wonderful town just full of folk art.

Here's Barbara looking not so happy because she's just about to be bitten by that lion  


Here I am trying to decide what to buy

 We had an official opening and Barbara designed a very cute flyer that we sent to everyone we knew (she even got an award from the Los Angeles Art Director's Club for the design of the flyer).


The shop lasted for about a year. It was never very successful. And in retrospect the reason was the location. You just can't have a shop where there's no foot traffic. Also when I look at the prices of items on this flyer, I detect our other mistake. Our stuff was way too cheap. You can't make the rent when you're selling $1.00 papier mache dolls and .50 rattles. You live and learn, don't you?

Try shopping at these other Sepia Saturday sites.

25 comments:

  1. I'm passing this on to my sister who keeps thinking we should open a Christmas shop. I always love visiting a Christmas shop, but they seem to do well only in major tourist cities - with plenty of foot traffic! This is interesting, sad but interesting.

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    1. My advice about opening a Christmas shop - Don't do it! You have too much competition these days from places like Walmart, Target and all the little glitzy Christmas shops that open up in nurseries at Christmas time. Retail is so difficult, sorry to say.

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  2. I'd love to have one of those paper mache dolls, especially for $1.00 :) Can see why Barbara won an award for the flyer, it's so colorful and the drawings are well done. Enjoyed reading about your store and sorry to hear it wasn't a success.

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    1. I'd love to send you one of the dolls if we had any left. They're worth a bit more now - anywhere from $7.00 to 20.00 depending on where you find them.
      Thanks for your comments.

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  3. I admire your business optimism but it is as you have found out in the meantime, there is always a reason for a low rent. I just hope that the Chevvy Bel Air(?) parked in front of your shop, was yours. I love that car! In any case, thanks for sharing your experiences.

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    1. No, the Chevy wasn't mine. It just happened to be parked in front of the shop that day. And I don't think it belonged to a customer either since we didn't have very many of those, unfortunately.
      I liked that model too, very spiffy.

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  4. Oh my, this has been somewhat of a dream for me as well! Lovely photos and what a blast it had to have been, and who knows what the future may hold right!

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    1. I think everyone dreams of becoming a shopkeeper at some time in their life. Yes, I don't regret any of it. It was a fun experience (experiment) and taught us quite a few lessons. We went on later to a very successful wholesale business. No more retail for us.
      Thanks for your comment.

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  5. I would have been there buying some of your colourfiul merchandise, especially at that price. I'm sorry it didn't last but I bet you had fun and look at the memories you have.

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    1. Oh, I wish you would have been there to shop. We needed you!
      Yes, it was a fun adventure. Especially the buying trips.

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  6. What a shame that your idea did not succeed. You certainly had the enthusiasm and the mercandise.

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    1. Yes, and we still had that merchandise for years!

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  7. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I suppose. It looks like it was quite an experience, just the same. And I can certainly see why the flyer won an award for its design. I like it very much. Thanks for sharing this experience with us.

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    1. Nothing gained is right. Especially monetarily. But we did gain lots of lessons and lots of adventures.
      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you're enjoying Sepia Saturday.

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  8. I'm sure you learned some valuable lessons that have led to success in your other ventures. Thanks for sharing your story

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    1. Yes, as I said in a previous reply, we did learn a lot - like "don't open a retail store". Our wholesale business was very successful and maybe because of a lot of lessons learned previously.

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  9. Hi Nancy ... what a neat post! I loved learning more of your Sister Adventures, and know that you two must have had a blast on your buying trips. Sometimes I dream of having a shop too, but I don't want to sit there all day manning it, lol.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Kathy M.

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  10. Hi Kathy,
    Sitting and minding a store is one of the most boring things in the world. And the worst thing is when you do finally get a customer, all they want to do is talk and bore you some more. No fun at all.

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  11. I have never had a store but for several years I sold my homemade dolls through other people's shops and at craft fairs. I can testify that there is nothing more boring than sitting there waiting for customers that never come.

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  12. How about your Mom and the martooni's? Your mother apparently figured out how to sit in a shop and get the most out of it. You two have had soooo much fun over the years! And you tell the stories so well. Barbara looks so adorable in her mini skirt.

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  14. Wow! You two were very adventuresome to open up a shop and make shopping trips to Mexico! It must have been so fun setting up the shop with all your treasured finds from Mexico.

    And the flyer Barbara designed is really cute!

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  15. I know you have mentioned the shop before but I love this post because it fills in the gaps and really gives your us a feel for what it was like. I love the idea of creating a reason for shopping trips to Mexico by opening a shop - perhaps I should open a beer shop!

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  16. You were entrepreneurial; one learns with mistakes. Today it is much more complicated it needs a business plan where do you want to be, say in two years etc. At least you were able to travel to Mexico; I must say I like that!

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  17. What a grand experience even if it didn't last. You didn't take the road straight and narrow. I sure would love to be able to buy those items at those prices now!

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