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Arts/Crafts Business/want to start a craft retail store


i have always wanted to open a craft store in my area,sence the big retail store took out there craft dept, i wanted to sale fabric, lace,etc. how would i go about doing that , can i look in up, i already make quilts and sell them. any information you could give i would be grateful

         thankyou  hiedi

Dear Hiedi,

Opening a store is a long and involved process.  It involves so many things and since I've never done it myself I'm not sure I can tell you them all.  Be aware I'm not trying to scare you away from trying.  I'm trying to give you a good enough outline that if followed you can at least get a successful start.  I don't want to give advice that makes it look easy but would lead to your eventual failure.

What I can tell you is that in order to open a successful store you need to do a lot of research.  I suggest you contact SCORE ( before you begin the research process as they will assign you a mentor to work with who might have some suggestions as to how to do your research so it directly applies to what you want to accomplish.

You need to decide who you want to serve and what problem(s) you want to solve for them.  You want to choose an "audience" so to speak that is narrow enough that you can target them specifically yet wide enough that there are enough people buying that solution (in your case craft supplies)to keep a business very profitable.  Then you need to find out as much about those buyers as you can.

For instance say you chose to serve "Quilters".  You need to know what age most quilters are, where they live, where they spend money, if they have children, what level of education they have, how much money they make and spend, what problems do they specifically face, what the solutions are to their problems, how many quilters there are in your area, how much do they usually spend on quilting supplies and on individual items, what is trendy in quilting now, and what are the time tested quilting techniques and supplies etc.  You also need to know do they make quilts to sell, as gifts, or for themselves.  Do they do most of their buying online or in brick-and-mortar stores.

Quilters need inexpensive fabric and supplies, techniques, patterns, classes, socialization, places to work, sewing machines.  They might buy products or services at craft shows, flea markets, second hand stores, yard sales, craft stores, Wal-mart or Kmart, quilting shops, specialty shops for sewing, the dollar store, and sewing machine stores.  They might attend craft shows, quilt shows, fairs and festivals, quilting or sewing guilds, fiber guilds and shows, quilting classes, embroidery classes, sewing classes and more.

You might be able to get the information you need by doing surveys at local craft shows or malls.  Be sure and get permission first, be respectful, and give people a reason for wanting to do the surveys for instance do a drawing for a small gift bag.  Keep the surveys simple so people won't get bored doing them.

Now you should know if there is a big enough market in your area for the products you want to provide.  You should also know what your customers needs are, how to meet the needs of your customer and where to go to meet their needs (where they buy those products or services).

Now you need to get funding in order to do that you need a business plan.  Here is a link to a free business plan workshop hosted by SCORE  

You are going to need a good idea of what your expenses are going to be.  If you were buying an existing store they would provide you with this information, but since you're not you are going to need to do more research.  

What is the cost of local store fronts, what are the costs associated with the solutions you want to provide, what do proper licenses and permits cost.  What will utilities, fixtures, counter tops, and office equipment cost.  What will proper accounting cost or how are you going to get accounting done.  How about the cost of employees and janitorial staff.  It is better to overestimate than it is to underestimate, think of as many things as you could possibly need.

Many wholesalers want a copy of your resale license before they will send you information on wholesale pricing.  See License Requirements for Art and Craft Show Businesses on getting your required city, county and state licenses.

With the ease of running an Internet business increasing and the costs decreasing I suggest checking into starting an Internet store before taking the risk of opening a brick-and-mortar store.  I also feel an online presence is necessary for the success of any brick-and-mortar store at this time so why not start there.  

Online stores have some benefits that you don't get from brick-and-mortar stores.  For instance you don't have to pay a large sum for rent %26 utilities, or carry a large amount of stock, you can sell affiliate products (meaning you sell someone's product, they deliver, you get a commission).  If you have a dedicated home office you can write part of it off on your taxes.  Some places don't require licenses for online stores.

Of course you will need reputable help with building a website etc. if you don't know how.  You could also take local adult education classes or classes at a University.  I would also recommend taking business and marketing classes for either endeavor.

Learn how to build your own website at:

Well that is just the basics of getting started.  Do talk to a SCORE counselor as they can walk you through all of this and more.  They will take you through every step if you are determined.  Later you will need a marketing plan and map to help you successfully guide your customers to a sale.

Good luck and if you need additional help please feel free to contact me again.

Shasta McLaughlin
The Extravaganza Craft Productions

Arts/Crafts Business

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Shasta McLaughlin


I can answer many questions about the art and craft show industry. I can help with booth setup, advertising and marketing, increasing sales at shows, where to find shows, how to promote an art or craft show, and much more.


I have always been an artist/craft person since I was a child selling crafts at shows with my mom. I have also promoted several craft shows, and publish a newsletter for artists and crafters.


Salutatorian of my graduating class. Associates degree of Graphic Design.

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