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31 Days of Decorating with Junk: Owning a Junky Business

I can’t count how many people came through The HomeShed  and mentioned that they dreamed of owning a business like mine.  And I know there are more of you out there, so I thought I’d give you a little behind-the-scenes info and answer some questions y’all submitted on my facebook page.
Background:  The HomeShed is just over 1 year old.  It is an occasional sale, in a permanent location, on a neighbor’s farm.  We have had 5 big sales and a few smaller events.  Before you go any further, read how The HomeShed got started.

Today’s questions focus on how The HomeShed started out.

1.  When you first got going, did you have a nest egg to get started?

Nope. But I did have a shed full of junk, so I had a lot of my inventory ready to go.  And my first sale included my junk and two of my friends’ junk, too.  Like a garage sale.
It’s important to note, however, that I have virtually NO overhead.  I do not pay rent on my space.  I do not pay utilities for my space (the only utility I use is electric.)  My costs (besides inventory and craft supplies) are advertising and office supplies like receipt books, sticker labels, cardstock for price tags, tape, and string.
It’s also important to note that I really made very little money from that first sale last year.  Our goal was to leave a good impression so people would come back in the spring.  But, after the first sale, I was not in the hole, and that was enough for me!

2.  When you got started how many items did you start with?

I had enough stuff to fill a 20x40 shed and a patio at least that size.  But as I said, I was selling much of it for my friends.  I did not charge commission or anything because they helped prepping for the sale and working during the sale.
I think I painted 3 or 4 pieces for the first sale, and I had several pieces of furniture from my own house.  I sold 2 pieces of furniture (armoire and buffet), 4 dining chairs, and 3 upholstered occasional chairs that weekend.
For our spring sale, I painted 2 desks, 2 dressers, two chairs, and five end tables.  After the whole summer, I still have 1 desk, 1 dresser, and 1 end table that haven’t sold.  (In my experience, painted furniture does NOT sell as quickly as we’d like to think!)
Most of my profit came from “smalls” – mostly accessories from my own house and my friends'.  Some was also from garage sales and thrift stores.

3.  Location (in a city, small town, country paved road or country gravel road) pros and cons

My “shed” is on a farm on a paved road in the middle of nowhere.  It is about 15 minutes from 5 towns, one of which is a LARGE town.  But it is a highly travelled paved road and we have signs outside to maximize the potential from drivers-by.  We have had so many people say, “I drive by all the time and saw you out here and…”
I have been to several barn sales on gravel roads and it works, but I don’t think it’s ideal.  I went to one sale that was 3 miles in on squishy, yucky, muddy gravel and it was terrible.  I felt so bad for the owner. 
I cannot give advice on whether a shop in a city or small town would be better.  I can only speak from my experience, which tells me that our location on a paved road is GREAT!

4.  What’s an “occasional sale?”  Would you recommend it over a regular shop?

An occasional sale is a shop that’s only open certain times.  Some in our area are open the last weekend of the month, May – October.  We were open 4 times this year.  April, June, September and October.
Occasional sales work well for us.  I cannot devote the time needed to run a shop with regular hours.  Although many shops in our area are only open Friday – Sunday, that’s 4 weekends a MONTH I’d be away from my family, instead of 4 weekends a year.
A break in between sales means that I can totally rearrange the Shed and work on some new pieces before customers come again.  And, because I’m not tied down to the shop all weekend, I can go garage sale-ing and get some great things at even better prices.
For our customers, I think occasional sales create a sense of urgency.  Getting to the sale because more of a priority because it’s their only chance until…?  And whatever they see might be gone before the next sale!

5.  How many projects did you try that didn’t work?

Only 12 (million.)
And it’s soooo frustrating.
I’ve tried to focus on quality of projects, not quantity.  So if I find something that works well, I’m going with it.  If I try something and it’s a flop, I try not to waste too much time on it.
One piece of advice that has really inspired me is this:
Nobody Tells This to Beginners (by Ira Glass)

Whew.  That was a lot of text without pictures.  To see pictures of The HomeShed, check it out on facebook.
I’ve got at least 10 more questions to answer, but I thought it would be best to give you information in smaller, more digestible chunks.  Watch for more posts about the business side of The HomeShed soon.
In the meantime, post your questions in the comments so that I can answer them in the future posts!

This post is part of 31 Days of Decorating with Junk: Vintage, Antique and Unique for your Home and Garden.

decorating with junk

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See you tomorrow!

i'm doing it! 
31 Days of Decorating with Junk Posts:

31 Days of Decorating with Junk Introduction
Farmhouse Style Front Porch 
Modern Farmhouse Design 
Repurposed Upright Piano 
Our Exterior Makeover Reveal
Adjustable Game Table Makeover (In a Ballard Designs Whitewashed Style) 
The HomeShed's September Sale & Fall Decor Inspiration 
Proof that I'm a HardCore Junker
My Gallery Wall
HomeShed Sale Preview and Christmas Inspiration
Cute Green Dresser with Chalkboard Labels
My Favorite Paint for Antique Furniture
Kris's Cabin Tour
Essential Tools for Repurposing
Making a Custom Glaze
Fixing a Stripped Out Screw Hole
How to Make Your Home Your Own
Spray or Brush?
Five from the Archives
Owning a Junky Business Part 1
Owning a Junky Business Part 2
1840 House
Simple Vintage Halloween
Five (More) from the Archives
Crib Spring Repurpose
Owning a Junky Business Part 3
Quick Chair-Do
Pallet Wall Art
Not So Junky Basement
Owning a Junky Business Part 4
31 Days Wrap Up

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