Small Niche Business Owners Share How They Manage To Keep The Lights On
Owning your own business is really the dream for quite a few people. The thing is, nobody really thinks about opening a small Wal-Mart or something. The mom & pop shops we imagine are almost always something special that we love to do. Love beekeeping? Want to sell local honey? Cool. But how are you going to afford a shop and compete with the honey that exists at every grocery store ever? One Reddit user really wanted to know:
Redditors who own niche hobby shops like model shops, how the hell do you make enough money to stay afloat?
The responses gave us some great ideas on ways we can make our own business better, honestly. So thanks Reddit!
Forget Walk-By Traffic
I run a small model shop. Mostly planes. I stay afloat because I cut way back on rent by renting out a small and less desirable shop location. Model shops attract customers who have considered what they want and don't typically rely on walk-by traffic.
No Money, Just Geeks
There's an absolutely decrepit-looking model train shop in town. It's in the middle of nowhere and has faded signage that looks like it's from the '70s. Open like 2 days a week for a couple of hours.
Drove by it one day with a townie who seems to know everything about everyone in the city and I commented about how I didn't understand that place. He told me it was ran by a retiree who just does it as a hobby. Probably doesn't make a dime, just has a fancy clubhouse that pulls in fellow enthusiasts/geeks to talk with.
It kind of sort of makes sense if you've retired with a little money to burn.
Broke Kids And Cheap Snacks
There's a place where I live that I think started out as a boardgame shop but branched out into being a place where people could actually gather with their friends and play those games. They also started serving food and got a liquor license. They're absolutely killing it - place is packed every night. Esp. popular with the student crowd as the food and drinks are cheap and the "cover charge" for unlimited stay and play is like $5 or something. Floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with games of all sorts, not-too-complex yet tasty food that's easy to handle and munch on while playing, good amount of tables, nice vibe/employees & owners, etc. Pretty neat place.
Could be an idea for people reading this thread who are thinking about starting/expanding on their own small business.
Wait Out The Competition
I work in a model shop (kits, trains, RC cars and aircraft). Due to other model shops in the UK shutting down we're quite few and far between, so we get customers from all over our county coming to buy things. In general business is quite good, enough to stay open at least
My Dad used to own a shop that sold model trains and mostly he made money selling on eBay. He'd paint them and build landscape and stuff and sell on eBay. There was little profit from the brick & mortar store itself.
On The Road
I lived in a small, very rural town in Texas that had an amazing BBQ restaurant that struggled for years because the local crowd just wasn't large enough to really keep it afloat. The locals were loyal, just not enough of them, and the off-the-beaten-path tourist trade was a hit-or-miss proposition at best, not to mention very seasonal.
The owners were locals who were invested in the community, owned the building, employed other locals and really wanted to stay in business but really didn't want to move at the same time they couldn't eke out much of an existence without moving. Quite the conundrum.
Until they figured out the far flung oilfield workers didn't have time to come into town to get meals. They started running multiple trucks out to the oilfields every day packed with BBQ, and sold out as much as they could keep up with. They were so busy making so much money taking their product to the customers they shut down the dining room of the restaurant--the part that wasn't all that profitable anyway--and they're still going great guns because they found a way to keep doing a good thing for a customer base that is willing to pay to have it brought to them. Win-win.
Break It, Buy It, Break It Again
RC Car hobby shop by me, has an indoor race track. The race track keeps them alive. You come and race, break your car, buy parts, race some more.
Game shops, that sell board games and tabletop RPGs and the like, stay afloat almost entirely through the cardboard crack that is Magic: the Gathering.
It's A Display
So I know someone who runs a multimedia shop, his sales are primarily in trading card game sales and board games.
In his case, he owns the building and is self-employed, so the regular expenses aren't too bad. His main earnings come from attending various conventions big and small, and selling them online through our version of eBay.
The physical shop is more of a display that people browse through for things they might be interested in.
In a suburb where my friend lives there is a fruit and vegetable shop that only has a handful of items and often sells out of things and closes at 11am. It is run by old people who own the building and live upstairs. They just run it for something to do.
Even more bizarre (to most people not from here,) they'll have an unmanned stand at the end of their driveway with a price list and a money jar. Take what you want and put the money in the jar, honor system.
I used to work at a pottery painting studio. While working there we saw tons of other pottery places go in and out of businesses, the owner told me in the fifteen years she'd had it open she'd seen 15 go up and down.
She told me she was able to keep it open because she's a real estate agent and refers to it as a "non profit" because she makes no money from it. She loves it though.
Three Things In Common
The yarn and knitting/ crochet shops near me tend to have three things in common:
- They leverage social interaction. They provide big group tables where people can sit and craft and chat and make new friends, and they offer drop-in classes or coffee hours.
- They carry some high-end products that chain hobby shops don't. If people come in for #1 often enough, eventually that hand-painted silk/alpaca blend might crack them.
- They are run by retirees who don't rely on the shop as their sole source of income.
I know someone with a geocaching shop. He makes money selling lemonade to people passing buy. And his wife has a proper job. His core business is next to nothing.
My parents owned a card store. Baseball, basketball, magic, yugioh and all of that.
It basically broke even, but youth needed something to do so they'd come in and play magic or warhammer or something for a few hours.
It was either barely broke a profit or had a small loss for a decade, but was something they did to help out the community. I got a lot of experience running register or playing card games I suppose.
Then one day someone broke the back door down and stole a bunch of stuff, and my parents decided that if that was what their reward was for trying to help out people in the community then they weren't going to bother so they just closed up shop.
Responses were split 50/50 between people being understanding and people complaining they didn't have any place to throw their kids at now and that we should have stayed open anyway ignoring that they'd have to go into debt to re-buy stock that was stolen and that if they did it would probably just get broken into over and over again.
Partnerships And Design
I know someone who owns a small train modelling shop, he makes money through partnership with model manufacturers, hiring booths in modelling shows as well as designing his own models and selling them. Niche markets such as railway modelling relies more on reputation and how established they are, so he saves money by operating out of less desirable locations as well as modelling at home.
Cheaper Than A Locker
Dad used to run a model train store in a dying mall. He used it mainly as a storage space since it was cheaper than a locker and has always primarily sold on eBay
A buddy of mine has parents that own a hobby shop. They do 3 things.
- They sell games and CCG stuff, which takes up less than a quarter of their shop.
- They cultivate clients through conventions, Meetup groups, host events, and they really work on developing relationships.
- They get real creative with the taxes. The husband owns the business and the wife instead the property, so the husband makes virtually zero money but his business pays his wife (the landlord) almost every dime in rent. There is more but that's all I can remember.
Keep It Clean
I work at a board game store, one of the top teir levels with Asmodee (most modern board games, we are a top 100 Asmodee store) and Wizards of th Coast (Magic, advanced premium store).
We have been told our service and cleanliness and variety of stock keep them coming back despite not going below MSRP. Probably toss in my "i have played way to many games and read too much gaming history" to get reviews of how we were able to quickly give info on specific games. We get lots of non saavy gamers, which is a big demographic.
A Point of Sale system with SQL has been a fantastic plus, as i can get many metrics to analyze and save craptons of time with stock.
Corner The Student Market
My model shop sells supplies to the architecture students. It's the only place I can get basswood I-beam, scale figures, and tiny mesh. The other students and I spend $100+ when we go.
Only Used For Events
Yeah I used to live near a store front that said it was a high end crafts and hobby retailer. I never saw it open. The one day at like 8pm I walked by and it was open. I stepped inside and there was a lady setting displays and tables. She said hello and asked if I wanted help with anything. I said that I just wanted to ask how she stays in business because this is the first time I have ever seen the shop open. And she says "oh! The internet honey! This place is only used for events for the local hobby community."
It made so much more sense to me after that. She said he husband owned the building and ran a hardware store for decades but home depot arrived one day. So they looked into selling and it wasn't as profitable as they would have liked so they rented it out for a few years and then she moved her business into it. After the internet became ubiquitous she was losing business and then found out running a small store online was way easier than she had imagined. And now it is what it is.
There's no shortage of excellent horror fiction out there. Recently I read The Terror by Dan Simmons and can't remember the last time I felt that claustrophobic and nervous. But I am also a fan of quite a few classics. Are there any other horror books that capture grief as effectively as Stephen King's Pet Sematary? What other book evokes folk horror as beautifully as Thomas Tryon's Harvest Home? Let's not forget this wonderful classic: The Haunting of Hill House. I could rave about that one (and Shirley Jackson) for days. All of these books left their mark on me and yes, I'd include them on a list (if I were to make one) of some of the scariest books I've read.
People had their own opinions to share––and books to recommend––after Redditor Tylerisdumber asked the online community,
"What's the scariest book you've ever read?"
"Gerald's Game. I've read lots of Stephen King and this one scared me the most. Slept with the lights on for several nights."
Everything about this book is creepy. Don't even get me started on the... degloving. I'm sorry I even typed that word out.
"It's not a long story..."
"The Yellow Wallpaper.
It's not a long story and I'd highly recommend going in knowing little to nothing about it. It's brilliant and terrifying. Published in 1892 as well if that's any interest!"
Few stories make you feel this sad. A pretty stunning piece of work––and yes, unnerving. Can really get under your skin.
"I think it was mainly..."
"For some reason, Salem's Lot by Stephen King.
I think it was mainly because I was on a week-long hiking trip in the Australian bush and it got dark and scary at night. But damn, I had trouble sleeping for a couple of nights. Then the friend I was hiking with read it, and he couldn't sleep either."
This is probably my favorite early King––and for good reason. The sense of atmosphere is impeccable. Those characters are loveable and you genuinely care about what happens to them. Then the book veers from horror into tragedy. It's quite moving.
"Just the knowledge..."
"On The Beach.
It's the most soul-crushing book I've ever read, and there's really nothing scary in it.
Just the knowledge of impending death for everyone that feels so awfully heavy."
This is one of those books that makes you feel hopeless.
It's impeccably written but wow... it's a truly heavy read.
"You never knew..."
It's a classic. I found it to be immensely chilling. You never knew what would happen and the writing instilled a sort of dread. I read it in the dark before I went to bed until I finished it."
A book I can read and re-read over and over again. It's a beautiful horror novel. It's also a really fascinating window into the era and manages to say a lot about social and class mores.
"I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. Very creepy and unnerving, definitely scared me reading it at night."
I wanted to really like this one––unfortunately, I did not––but there's no denying that the first third or so (especially once the two protagonists get to the house) is pretty unnerving. Shame the payoff wasn't all that.
"It was disturbing and horrifying..."
"Helter Skelter. It's about the Manson murders and goes into quite a bit of detail. It was disturbing and horrifying because, unlike the King novels also mentioned, it's true. What they did to Sharon Tate is so absolutely devastating. Pure evil."
This book is gruesome and not for the faint of heart. The level of detail we dive into learning about the Tate-LaBianca murders is remarkable and also rather nauseating.
"So the book's characters..."
"Bird Box by Josh Malerman.
Forget the Netflix movie. The book's monsters are terrifying, in that you simply just don't know what they are or what they look like. They could be anything. What they are is enough to drive people insane by just being looked at.
So, the book's characters have to navigate a world mostly without one of our most used senses, and what's more terrifying than something you can't see?
This leads to some utterly scary scenes in the book that sent my heart racing and I had to put down for a breather."
It's a shame that movie wasn't all that and a bag of potato chips.
"It's a different kind of scary..."
"It's a different kind of scary, but The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood's dystopian nation feels not that far from reality sometimes, and it absolutely terrifies me."
We're going to go there.
Yes, this book is terrifying.
"I feel like the movie..."
"The Ruins, by Scott Smith, messed me up pretty good. My favorite kind of horror is psychological, and while there is a physical "entity" the real horror is the helplessness of this stranded group trapped by something they don't understand. Their desperate struggle to hold on to their sanity and the slow descent into hopeless desperation just really hit hard.
I feel like the movie was a fairly faithful adaptation, although it's been a while since I've seen it."
I love this book and have read it multiple times over the years. It's slow-going... and then the final one-hundred pages are just horrifying.
Well, if you haven't read any of these... What are you waiting for? Get on that. You won't regret it.
But also... the world is pretty scary right now, so we understand if you need to take a step back.
Have some suggestions of your own? Feel free to tell us in the comments below!
Have you ever traveled to a city you've always heard good things about, only to be totally let down upon arrival?
When a friend insists we travel to certain cities because we would "just love it," they're setting the bar pretty high.
And a city can also boast a rich history or an attraction that makes us curious enough to find out what makes it so appealing.
But, alas, when we finally reach the destination, it's never exactly what we thought it would be.
Curious to hear from strangers online, Redditor tshirtguy2000 asked:
"What city is overrated?"
These are not officially real cities but they do have a rotating population.
It's Always A Party There
"As a former
slave associate at party city. I 100% agree."
"Lego City. There always has to be someone falling into the river."
"Cabot Cove, the murder capital of the world."
"Sure, the murders are all solved, but would you really want to live in a city with that much, easily solved, crime?"
Neighbor To Springfield
Shelbyville. Those f'kers steal trees from neighboring cities.
These were once considered destination cities but their popularity eventually took a nose dive.
"Atlantic City. Venture a few blocks off the boardwalk and it's incredibly depressing. Very clearly an area exploited by the big casinos while the locals have been driven to absolute poverty, while they still force a smile to work the shops that are required for the tourist traffic."
Lots Of Water
"Niagara Falls, Canada. I grew up there. Mayor pumps most of tax $ to casinos and tourism with flashy vegas-esque attractions."
"Myrtle Beach. I'm not even saying that it has a good reputation, I'm just saying that any shred of positive thinking about it makes it overrated."
Where A Creek Is An Exciting Attraction
"Lamb's Grove, Iowa. It's not the paradise on earth that people always say it is. Don't get me wrong, it's got great Chinese food but the motel 6 is meh at best."
Impressions for these cities fell far below expectation.
"Dubai. It's the clickbait of the world. 'We have the biggest/tallest/most expensive YOU WON'T BELIEVE when you see THIS...' It's hot as f*k, everything's a man-made tourist trap; labor exploitation and racism are rampant, and they try so hard to prove to the world how modern and Westernized they are. Really, it's just government propaganda."
"Miami. Horrible place filled with horrible people."
Truth be told, many cities can be overrated.
It just depends on a person's experience, or a resident's perspective about what it is about the location they live in that is nothing worth writing home about.
If I had to choose, I would say Las Vegas is overrated, but that's because there is nothing in Sin City that is of personal interest to me.
I may be severely judged for my opinion, but that is a gamble I'm willing to take.
The opposite sex can be a bit of a mystery sometimes. Our brains work differently just like our bodies and this can lead to certain sensitive questions. Guys tend to be a little less open but today it's time for the ladies to ask away. Even wondered what they really think or feel about their body, yours? Today's the day to get the answers you didn't know you needed.
Redditor William84000 asked:
“Women of reddit, what question do you have of men that you'd really like an answer to?"
His question started an informative thread for women to ask men the questions they've been wondering and receive honest, real-life answers.
“How long does it take to recover if you've been hit in the balls?” Snowy-avocado
“Anywhere from 5 minutes to literally turning to dust like we were Thanos snapped.” secondhand_organsdust whirls GIFGiphy
“The Big Dumb Object...”
“I've always wanted to know: why do you like loud machinery so much? For older men it's mowers, leaf blowers and such. For younger men, it's modified cars and motorbikes. What's the deal with the loud machines?” marshmellow_bunnyx
“Power and tools. Tools are a thing that gets stuff done, and they are loud because they contain the
natural essence power of violent explosions and fire. Most men like powerful things, instead of powerful people.”
“In sci-fi, this is called 'The Big Dumb Object', and is pretty much a trademark of sci fi books written by men” Connect-Zebra7173
To shave or not to shave?
“Does body hair on a woman bother you that much?" reillydean28
“Leg/arm hair? Don't even notice. Armpit hair? Not my thing but not my choice/decision. Pubic hair? I'd prefer not, but it's not going to stop me from getting the job done." wHUT_fun
It’s a power and control thing...
“Why send a d*ck pic?" stavinlawrence
“I think for most men it's a power dynamic thing. Either it gets them off or it just makes them feel in control."
“Then I assume there's the added bonus of if she likes it she might send a nude back. But these losers have a greater chance of buying a "get bigger penis pills" that actually work before a girl appreciates an unsolicited nude." InertialEclipse
"Do you notice the little things?”
“Do you notice the little things about women like a new hair cut, when they wear makeup or a nice outfit?” xforeverlove22
“I can't speak for everyone but for me, nope. Not at all. My uncle had a moustache for like 20 years and one day decided to shave it off. I didn't notice it. I noticed there was a weird atmosphere around me like ‘come on, say something’, so I small talked with him.”
“A few hours later after he left they asked me if I seriously didn't notice that his moustache was gone. My answer was ‘What moustache?‘ And makeup would definitly fly over my head.” PleaseTakeThisName
Lets just not touch people without permission...
“What things have women done that make you uncomfortable?" charloget
“Had a few grab my junk at random. Even had a couple that just forced a kiss on me. I don't usually experience women trying to pick me up, but the few times I did was never great. It was either negging, overly sexually aggressive and always in a group." bahamabanana
On today's episode of sink of float...
“Do penis' float like a buoy? I heard they do but have never been able to verify it.” TheFantasticV
“I mean it's buoyant but it can't really do much besides lazily sorta half float there. Still amused the f**k out of my wife to learn.” secondhand_organsGiphy
Everyone just wants to be loved...
“What makes you feel loved?” linedizzy
“A compliment, a hug or a kiss we don't have to initiate.” Nuitari8
“Do guys care if women get cosmetic procedures done?” dookieconductor
“I don't necessarily care about the work itself, I'd be more concerned about understanding why she felt like she wanted to get it done and help her feel body positive for whatever work has been done or if she feels like she needs work.” -notjosh-
Math will kill a mood everytime...
“What does it feel like when you're having sex and you're trying not to 'get there'? Is it frustrating? What do you do/think about to keep it from happening?" uhohoreolas
“I sometimes do math like 333*3... But often I am fine with just controlling things to focus mostly on her pleasure instead of mine. Tho sometimes she is excited and ends up moving in unaccounted ways while I am a hair away and there is no stopping it. I definitely don't find it frustrating. It is still very enjoyable." Fkire
Some of these Q&A's were unexpected but now we know! This important thing here though is knowing it's ok to ask questions sometimes.
Everyone's got their own favorite food.
What are two foods that actually taste great together......even though most people don't eat them that way?
Breakfast is the most wonderful meal of the day. As the wise Leslie Knope once said, "Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?" So mixing it up can feel blasphemous, but what if it's tasty?
Jam It On
"When I was growing up, it was standard procedure for us to put grape jelly on scrambled eggs. I did it when I went to college and everyone at the table stared at me. I still like it."
"That sounds gross af, but not too gross that I don't still want to try it. Haha"
Bringing People Together
"Peanut butter and maple syrup."
"My husband and I both grew up eating PB and syrup on our waffles. We took that as a sign it was meant to be."
"Peanut butter and syrup on waffles is one of the single best things I have ever had, also growing up with it"
Mustard?! Don't Let's Be Silly.
"Mustard with scrambled eggs. Actually I haven't had it in a while but from what I remember its really good"
"Mustard with eggs period"
Sauces and dips are critical to enjoying some foods. Mess with it too much and you risk ruining the delicacy. So that's why it's reassuring to see these people offering up their new spins on dip combinations.
Only For The Elegant Dining Experience
"Hummus and salsa mixed together with tortilla chips."
"Fancy bean dip."
Peanut Butter With Everything!
"Peanut butter and cheddar cheese (like the proper brick kind, not kraft cheese slices). When I was a kid I sometimes made myself pb and cheese sandwiches. They're very filling but delicious!"
"Toasted English muffin, butter, peanut butter, raspberry jam and marble cheddar on top. Lord have mercy on me."
"Add a litte hot sauce on the peanut butter."
Better Than Garlic Sauce?
"I already posted but I'm eating pizza with my friend right now and he likes his pizza with hummus."
"Hummus is good with so many things."
"So I make spaghetti noodles, but break up the raw noodles into smaller pieces. Once they're done I put in a an egg or two (mix it around) and let it cook. I swear it's not that bad. My Nonna always makes it for me when I go back to the Midwest to visit. It's good with parmesan cheese too."
And then there's these taste combinations. Mixtures so strange, you might just be willing to walk away from your phone or computer and try one now.
Sweet And Savory?
"Watermelon and feta cheese."
"With red onion and balsamic vinegar."
"Thats like the most basic summer thing in Greece, Balkans, Turkey together with some Uzo or Raki"
Who Lives In A Cheddar Under The Sea?
"Pineapple and cheddar."
"A guy at work introduced me to dipping a peanut butter and honey sandwich into chili. That was surprisingly great."
A Creative Spin On An Old Favorite
"Root beer float except with cherry Coke and chocolate ice cream. I was in middle school on a field trip, last in line at the cream shop, and ordered this after everyone else had done the standard root beer and vanilla. One of the cool girls who had never spoken my name before gave me this piercing look and asked if I would switch with her. I instinctively knew I would get zero benefit from this deal, so I said "Nope, ya gotta just remember it next time." That felt good."
Keep an open mind. Don't do this for every meal, sure, but always be ready to try something new.