You know the old saying, no news is good news? Well, I’m about to prove that wives’ tale false. It all started about March of this year.
There is a small coin-operated car wash, right next door to the shopping center where my store is located. The owners of both places are old school guys that have been turning down offers on their properties for decades. Both of them had personal reasons for keeping what they had, and neither of their lives would change with the money they were offered. They just liked what they had and what they were doing. Then around March, some surveyors were seen on the car wash property. One of them came in for a watch battery and I asked what they were doing. He said something about insurance.
Fast forward about two or three months, and the trash cans were overflowing and not being emptied 3-4 times a day like always. And, the owner of the car wash, who I saw and talked to weekly, was nowhere to be seen. The owner had finally sold the property. Well dang. Fast forward another month or so, and surveyors started showing up in our little shopping center. I asked them what they were doing, and they said something about insurance. Yeah, right.
Next thing you know, they are digging up our parking lot looking for the location of old gas tanks that our owner never cared about before. All five of us in our little center are starting to put two and two together.
Then about two weeks ago, I get a call from a reporter who covers the business and real estate beat here in Nashville. He was asking my thoughts on our shopping center having been sold the day before. Well dang. To be honest, all five of us tenants would have sworn we had at least 20 years before anything like this happened. And, the new owners are going to bulldoze the center and redevelop the land. So where do we all go from here?
After the initial shock, which lasted about 15 seconds, I went into worry mode. After worry mode, I went into scared mode. Then back to worry, then angry, then some other kind of weird emotion, then another weird emotion. And now, it’s a couple of weeks later and I’ve had some moments of clarity.
Over the last year or two, I’ve been rethinking my decision to stay in this location for the long haul. It’s a good spot, but not a great spot. But, in order to make the change, I’d have to actually make a change. Not doing anything is a whole lot easier as we all know. And, just to complicate the whole matter, right before this happened, I made the decision to sell my house. I’ve lived in my house for 16 years, but no longer loved living there. I started dreaming of living somewhere other than right in the middle of one of the hottest cities in the USA. It was fun when I was younger, but now I just don’t really want to be ‘in the thick of it’ anymore. So now, that I’m about to put my entire life on a truck, why should I put a mileage limit on how far that truck can drive?
The funny thing is this has opened my eyes to lots of opportunities that lay before me that I wasn’t able to explore when I was tied to a brick and mortar location. So, what should I do?
Change of Scenery
I might look for an under served market that needs a little jewelry store, repair shop to serve the community. It sounds romantic, but do I really want to relocate to a new town? Do I want to take that gamble again in today’s difficult retail environment? I don’t know, but it’s in the back of my mind. Anyone know of an under served market I should explore?
Change of Occupation
Come on, everyone reading this has thought about it more than once in the last 10 years. Owning any type of retail store has its challenges, but I think running a retail store in our industry is probably harder than most. Come on, you know you’ve thought about it!
Become a Traveling Trainer
One of the challenges our industry faces is training opportunities for bench jewelers. There are not a lot of places for them to go to receive the specialized-skills training they need. Plus, it’s expensive to send your bench jewelers away for training. Not to mention that while they are away for training, they are not at work, doing the jobs you need them to do.
Something I’ve kinda wanted to do for a while is to go on the road as a bench trainer. I’d come into your store, work with your jewelers - in your shop. I’d spend a week looking over their shoulders while they’re working, and show them more efficient ways to complete the jobs on their bench. There are sales trainers that have been doing this for decades for the sales staff. They come and work with your staff in your store! Why wouldn’t that work with your shop staff? I couldn’t have done it while running a retail store. Who thinks this could be a thing?
Go 100% Wholesale
I’ve owned a trade shop since 1984. It’s always been good to me. But, since I also owned a retail store, I was limited on the amount of accounts I could service through the trade shop. If I decide to not re-open the retail store, I can just concentrate strictly on trade work and not have to deal with the public any more. Oh man, that sounds so sweet right about now.
Work the Flea Market Circuit
About a year ago, I bought a laser engraving system, with the goal of making that a big part of my retail mix. My thinking was this; if I’m going to bring in something new, I want to bring in something that people buy 5 times a year, not once every 5 years. It wouldn’t take away from what I was already doing, and would add a new element. Because my system is portable, I’m kinda thinking about going to a lot of flea markets, gun and knife shows, art fairs, and festivals, and doing on-sight engraving. It sounds more fun than opening a new retail store.
Move My Store to a New Location
Between you and me, this is probably what I’m going to do. I know it doesn’t sound as romantic as some of the other options, but at the end of the day it’s probably the most responsible option. As of this writing, I don’t know how long I have before I have to vacate my current location. I’m going to guess about 6 months or so. I wonder how many more ideas I’ll think about between now and then. As scary as the thought of relocating is, daydreaming about having another life has been pretty fun too. Wish me luck, and I’ll keep everyone updated along the way.