A couple of weeks ago I decided to close my Etsy shop. A few of my facebook followers asked if everything was ok, and actually, I’m better than ever! First, a little history…
I started the shop back in April of 2010 on kind of a whim. I’d been finding vintage items in my searches for my own home and saw things that were GREAT but I had no space or purpose for. But I hemmed and hawed and delayed until finally one day I just decided to go for it. I actually started on Big Cartel, then switched to Etsy later (here’s a post about that). When putting together my business plan for 2011, the Etsy shop was a significant portion of it – I’ve mentioned before that some kind of retail aspect is something I’ve thought about for the future of Maggie Rose and I saw the shop as a way to dabble in that without plunging into owning and operating a store-front retail store. I’d made some great sales since the move to Etsy and even wanted to start making and selling products for the home, which I did a bit earlier in 2011.
This all sounds great, right? You’re probably wondering where the “quitting” part comes in.
So here’s the deal: as my own boss, I like to measure my business activities based on what is fun to me and what excites me. If it doesn’t HAVE to happen (financials, invoicing, filing, contracts) and I can’t somehow change it to be fun (or the act of changing it to be fun also sounds like no fun), then I don’t want it as part of my business. And the Etsy shop got to be a big drag.
First there was the problem of not being able to consistently find vintage items that I thought reflected my “brand” that I could also mark up enough to make any money from (which, let’s face it, is a big part of business too). Some of the items that I’d invested money in weren’t selling and it was hard for me to justify spending MORE to have more inventory taking up space. I got lots of tips on how to boost profits (re-listing items daily for 20 cents a pop, having more inventory, etc) but stuff just wasn’t moving and I was reaching my limit of how much I wanted to spend without seeing any returns. And when I was only finding things to sell that would make me maybe $5… I wondered if it was worth it to me.
Secondly, I learned very, very quickly that I hated shipping. Jess, I don’t know how you do it! Maybe it’s because the post office wasn’t part of my regular routine, but getting a sale both thrilled and annoyed me because I didn’t want to deal with shipping it. It seemed like I never had the right size box, somehow even when I calculated the shipping with packaging and everything I was still under-charging and lost money on sales that way. Some items I didn’t even break even because the profit margin was too small to pad any shipping charge errors. And I knew that other sellers were undercharging on both the items AND shipping, making my prices seem inflated.
Lastly, it sucked that no one wanted to buy some of the stuff. I had been really excited to offer pillows in my shop. I’d picked out the fabric and trims and had more options ready to be stitched up when the first batch sold. But not a single. pillow. sold.Â Even with lowering the prices, advertising a “sale” and relisting them several times. And that was a big bummer and blow to my ego (and it kind of is to admit that here, too, but I’m trying to keep it real).
Basically, it started to suck and it wasn’t profitable. And the less I wanted to deal with it, the less successful it was, and so on.
So I closed it, on as much of a whim as I’d started it. AND IT FELT AMAZING. I felt an immediate sense of relief and a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
The only thing nagging me was that I’d started this whole shop endeavor because a retail aspect was something I was considering for the future of Maggie Rose Interiors.
Once again, Ryan came to my rescue as sounding board and meaningful-question-asker. I thought (out loud… a lot…) about a retail space, what the time commitment and energy spent on it would be. Did I want to spend all of my time managing a store (most likely with an online component)? Not really. I wouldn’t have time left over to take on the design clients I hoped a store-front might attract. So I reconsidered why having a store-front was so appealing to me in the first place. Two elements stuck out to me.
1. I like the idea of choosing products, of picking out amazing items and introducing my readers & clients to them. I also like the idea of possibly designing products someday.
2. I really like the idea of having a physical space that reflects my business and that can be used to throw parties, host small design classes, book signings, and bring clients to.
Neither of those things require that I open a store.Â I do have some ideas for how to incorporate products into my business, though. And until my budget can work it out, I won’t be opening any kind of office space, though now I know that’s more suited to what I want. I feel so much better now, and instead of dreading thinking about products, inventory, and advertising my shop, I’m excited about my new ideas and about doing something unique that is both fun for me, and beneficial for my business. Because that’s what I want my business to be about!
Have you made any business decisions based on how fun you thought they were? Have you backed out of something because it just wasn’t working anymore? Or do you see it through to the (bitter) end?
P.S. A reader suggested last week that I include my website address in my post. So if you can’t find a link elsewhere, I’ll be including it here at the bottom. For more info about Maggie Rose Interiors, check out my website.