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The word "junk" is almost always a figurative term -- an item that one person considers worthless could be rare and invaluable to another. Maybe that's why approximately 15 percent of the population will step into and shop in a resale shop in a given year, says the Association of Resale Professionals. If you're thinking of brushing the dust from some forgotten goods and setting out a welcome mat, it's important to first develop a strategy for your junk store: building inventory, selecting a location and creating brand identity are three elements crucial for success.
Write a business plan that includes the name of your store, its ethos, and estimated upfront costs, overhead and operational procedures. This plan is your blueprint for the first three years of operation. Supplement the plan with a mission statement and marketing strategy summary. Work in the expected time and expense of employees you will hire. Don't forget to figure in your own time and how much money you need for personal and household expenses. If necessary, identify investors or other sources of loans.
Apply for a tax identification number, called an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It is required by the federal government for all retail operations.
Create a system for collecting and categorizing inventory. For this, you might use a software program developed especially for resale shops such as Liberty4, ConsignPro or InBloom. You could also use a more mainstream spreadsheet or accounting program. Identify reliable suppliers and establish partnerships. For example, you might work with one person for clothing and another for furniture.
Negotiate a lease for the space where you want to set up the shop. Apply for any required state and local licenses and permits. Turn on utilities and install a security system and camera if needed. Set up racks, shelves, display cases and lighting. Establish a company bank account using your EIN.
Work with a graphic designer to make a store sign. Make sure the lettering is clear, bright and eye-catching and that the sign is firmly attached to the space with brackets or wire. Develop a logo, business cards, price stickers, signage and fliers. Establish an opening day and create "Coming Soon" signs for the front window or sidewalk. Write a press release about your opening and send it to local newspapers and television stations. Set up a presence on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN.
Stock the store with its initial inventory, making sure all items are clean, polished and appropriately priced. Establish an operating schedule and post it near the store entrance. Hire employees and train them. Test cash registers and credit card machines. Publish "Grand Opening" ads in local newspapers and on your social media sites.
Open for business. Attract shoppers with balloons or signs near the entrance and special incentives such as coupons for return visits. Be friendly, helpful and courteous but not overbearing. At the end of the first day, record observations and areas to improve or modify. Update social networks with photos. Replenish inventory as needed.
Amy Stanbrough is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "Bust," "Woman's World," "Southern Exposure" and many other publications. Stanbrough holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from George Mason University.
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