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As a Radio Car (RC) racing enthusiast and a huge fan of the RC community in my hometown, I understand the value a niche hobby store would bring. Yes, most of us spend our money online, but it’s important to have a local hub where we can go ask for advice and find accessories and more on the very day we need it.
It’s also true that most economists say that small retail businesses are goners, but hobby shops have a special place in the market. These stores tap into a niche that isn’t covered by big retailers and offer a friendly face to the possible customer. Besides that this is one of those businesses that would be really fun to own and operate.
I decided to ask around to find out the steps to take for opening my own hobby store. Since I know there are others like me, I decided to share my findings. Below are the most important steps when opening a hobby shop:
Besides dedication and hard work, a business requires customers. So, before you even think about buying/renting a place for your business, take a look around and see if you have the right location.
A hobby store is mostly oriented towards local hobbyists so it would be helpful to know there is a powerful RC community in town or close by. It also helps if there are regular local events such as races or tournaments. Such events usually bring people from out of town as well, and this means more customers for you.
Keep in mind: just being passionate about your hobby is not enough to keep a business alive! Starting a business is not easy , but starting one in an unfavorable location will be even more difficult.
Most RC hobby stores tend to go down in the first or second year. This happens mostly because owners focus on a specific version of RC units and they’re not willing to expand. When I talked to John from RC Rank , he suggested I should think about expanding my offer from the start. This means including all kinds of RC from cars to helicopters, to boats and drones.
He also suggested starting with the most popular RC toys among the local community and moving on from there. So, you should study the market before anything – this way you’ll have an idea about the products that sell fast in your area.
You may not have the money you need to open the store, or you may need support in keeping things going just until you start getting some cash flow. In any case, you should look for alternative ways to fund your business and supporters are a great way to go.
First, you should talk to big RC manufacturers who’ve shown interest in supporting hobby stores in the past. Companies like Traxxas are open to negotiation, but they ask business owners to buy a certain amount of their product, and this may be too much for a startup. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have the contact.
There are also local programs funded by the government specially designed to give startups a boost. It never hurts to ask around.
You should also look for other kinds of support. Advice and guidance from local hobbyists associations and others similar will help you navigate the tricky parts of starting your business. Go to conferences and ask for expert guidance whenever you have the opportunity.
Yes, you need business plan ! Even if you’re looking for funding or a partner, you must be able to show your business idea is feasible and is capable of turning profit. What’s more, suppliers such as RC manufacturers and others will want to check your plan to determine if they can extend credit.
You may also need it when renting the place for your startup, so it must be well-organized and comprehensive. First, you must specify the type of RC hobbies you want to service, the range of products you’ll be selling, and the people you target.
Your business plan will be useful to you as well. As you draft it, you’ll have the possibility to discover weaknesses and assess your situation from a different level of understanding. It’s also an opportunity to consider initial costs and how to cover them.