The store I co-own with my sister is expanding! Because of this new expansion, I want to share some of the things I am experiencing during this process. If you’re planning, considering, or curious about an expansion of your retail store, read on!
Our Expansion Journey
If you aren’t familiar with The Salvaged Boutique, it’s the home decor and gift boutique that I co-own with my sister. We started this journey as a DIY blog out of our homes back in 2013. By 2015, we had opened our brick-and-mortar store.
The store is approximately 450 square feet, while the studio is 250 square feet, so it’s pretty small. Since we sell refurbished furniture, packing it all in while merchandising and displaying items in an aesthetically appealing way has been a challenge!
We’ve wanted to grow into a bigger space for years, but it just didn’t happen. This past November, though, our friend and retail neighbor Todd told us he was retiring. He was running his window cleaning company out of the other 400-square-foot retail space in our building.
Fast forward a few months, and we were so happy to recently announce on both Facebook and Instagram Live that we’re expanding!
Seven Things to Consider Before Expanding
So here’s what I’m experiencing along the way and things you may want to consider before expanding.
A quick note: some shopkeepers may never want to reach stage 4 (Growing Retailer) or stage 5 (Retail CEO), which are typically when shopkeepers start to think about expansion. Just remember, retail success is subjective!
We are NOT doing the buildout. Some might say this is luck, but I say it’s years of being a responsible tenant, building a very respectful relationship with the building owner, good boundaries, and negotiating skills.
Not having to worry about labor or the budget is nice. On the other hand, we don’t have control of the buildout timeline, which means we have to be more patient than ever.
We’re beyond grateful that our landlord sees our vision, appreciates what we’re building, and respects us enough as business owners to have these conversations along the way. After hearing so many horror stories, I try not to take this for granted.
We are bootstrappers at heart. We also love a good DIY project, and we’re scrappy, so we’re doing this on a budget!
I initially thought we’d need some funding, but I’m happy to say that we’re less than six weeks away, and I don’t think we will. Between a healthy reserve account and a decent credit line on a credit card, we’re doing okay here.
Before expanding, you need to ask yourself, “how can I plan and prepare for this?” Continuing operations and continuing cash flow/revenue has been helpful for us.
We’ve had to manage our inventory flow as we plan for the expansion. We were saving some of the new inventory that came in for the expansion reveal. But we had to bring up some of the new stock to keep the store fresh, as our customers appreciate how fresh and new our store always feels.
We realized that we couldn’t just stop running the existing business while planning for the expansion. Our inventory turn rate is good because we’re good at consistently ordering and turning over inventory in-store.
Fear, doubt, imposter syndrome, and pre-programmed thinking may want to take over. Don’t let them! Mindset is undoubtedly paired with…
Stress and Anxiety
What can you do to coach yourself along the way? Some of my favorite ways to overcome stress and anxiety include:
- Pausing to breathe and reassure yourself of your plan
- Sitting in your confidence
- Doing whatever you can to help maintain a healthy mindset
The dust, noise, and gridlock in our studio are wreaking havoc on our brains. Plus, we’re anxious to see the pretty side of it! We want to get started but can’t. We have to be patient.
One thing that can help with your mindset and stress levels is to tap back into YOUR WHY.
For us, the customer experience was the motivation for expansion. They ask us for more furniture, more product, just more The Salvaged Boutique overall so they can spend more time at the store. And we want to give this to them!
I love that one Master Shopkeeper said her expansion improved revenue AND customer experience, and yes, more revenue will be nice, too!
What Comes Next?
Needless to say, my sister and I are excited. This is something we’ve wanted for a LONG time. We’re glad we were patient, and it’s all working out.
However, this also means I have way more on my plate in the next two months. I say this often in our group memberships, we all have seasons in life and business where things go off-kilter, life seems overwhelming, schedules are packed, or we just aren’t ourselves.
I’m getting ready to open ticket sales for the 2022 Savvy Shopkeeper Retreat. We’ve also just launched the Savvy Shopkeeper Quiz (go take to find out your stage on your shopkeeper journey!), and a few other big projects are on the horizon!
All of that, plus the expansion and other planned travel and events, and my schedule is PACKED.
With all of that, I have to be realistic. I also have to give myself plenty of white space on my calendar (otherwise, we all know what could happen—burnout!).
That might mean biweekly instead of weekly podcast episodes and blog posts over the next few months. If that happens, don’t be surprised—it’s just me holding boundaries for myself and protecting my calendar.
- Take the Savvy Shopkeeper Quiz to learn your stage on your shopkeeper journey AND access free, tailored resources to help you along the way
- Join The Shopkeepers Lab
- Get on the waitlist for Master Shopkeepers
- Learn more about the upcoming 2022 Savvy Shopkeeper Retreat!
- [03:09] Our Expansion Journey
- [07:30] Seven Things to Consider Before Expanding
- [14:39] What Comes Next?