I want to update y'all on the process of finding a permanent booth somewhere put my art/craft.  Yesterday John (dh) and I went a community about 2 hours from where we live that's got (at least) 3 places that offer this.  If I am going to consider a commitment like this I want and value his input.  He can see things I may miss or think of questions I have not considered.

We left early enough to be there by 9:00 when the first of several stores opened that we wanted to look at. The first one was really nice, had some great handcrafted art & furniture and some smalls. The staff was professional and showed us around, answering questions & offering information to us. They do have one space that is approximately 11x12 but it's not a great location. It is in the back and it's sort of tucked away. They charge $3.00/sq. ft. and 10%, and they take care of submitting sales tax. They have a dooma jigie that counts the number of people who come in. I believe he said there are 4000/week. They are open Wednesday through Sunday. No requirements to work any shifts or even be around. Of course one must go replenish as things sell, reprice, etc.  They take care of collecting and remitting all sales tax.  The are open Wednesday - Sunday, 9-5 (or maybe 6?) every week.

The 2nd place had very friendly, professional staff on site as well and had some great items in the booths. While showing us around they gave all sorts of information and showed possible locations for a booth space. This is a 2 story building as opposed to the 1st being a one story. I expressed concern that the 2nd story would not get enough foot traffic. However, they say it does get loads of foot traffic.  The staff works at directing people to the booths upstairs.  They charge $1.95/sq. ft for downstairs and $1.75 for upstairs. They charge 13% that covers advertising, overhead, and cc fees.  They require one 4 hour shift per month.  There is a private facebook page to go in and do housekeeping tasks for the booth you rent (printing tags, updating inventory, etc.) and to put your name on the schedule.  They take care of collecting and remitting all sales tax.  They are open 9-7 on Friday, 9-6 on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.  They are open 1st & 3rd weekends of the month and then host special events.  Dh has volunteered to go spend the day with me when I go for my shift.

At both of these places, we took plenty of time to wander around, look at the booths and the art/craft in those booths.  Both places are fully climate controlled and those who rent space do not have access unless the staff is there, which provides a layer of security.  Both offer month to month from the start with 30 days notice to vacate.

While there we hit some resale stores, flea markets, and so on.  We found a few pieces that were in our price range.  One thing we found out by observation and talking to shop owners is that the area's standard of living is better than our area.  Even the resale shops and flea market type stores had higher prices than what are charged in our community.

We went to another store that sells refinished pieces and some that are not.  They had some pieces that were unfinished and in fine shape and just need a good cleaning.  The other pieces need refinishing.  The sell all of it.  However the do not rent booth space.

While there we had a nice lunch at a long running locally owned restaurant.  It was very good and had very good service.  It was a good treat.

When we were heading back south, about to cross the Pontchartrain Causeway, dh asked about the store I went to look at with our dd and my friend a few weeks ago.  It's in Metairie (burb of New Orleans) and we stopped there since we had time before they closed at 6:00 PM.  They are open 5 or 6 days a week, 10-6.  They have set booth sizes and you are locked in to those sizes and charge by the booth size.  They charge $475 for a 10x10 and 15% commission + 3.5% cc fees.  Three month lease to start and then month to month after that.  Dh thinks there is too much buy/sell in this location to mesh with what I do.  I believe he is right.

Our consensus is that the second store lines up more with what I sell.  By that I mean the vibe, the other products offered by other sellers, and so on.  We are taking a few days to think and pray about our decision to do this.  We don't want to rush into this and make a rash decision.  We do not have a deadline.  However if we do this I want to this I'd like to be open for the first weekend of September to take advantage of the fall buying season.

We are well aware of the 1.5-2 hour drive to the location we are preferring.  We have 4 lane 99.9% of the drive, including the causeway over the Pontchartrain.  There is a $5 toll on the way back, southbound, but not northbound.

My question is this ... When deciding to make a move like this, what if your mental process?  What questions do you ask yourself?  What questions do you ask the owners/management?  What things am I missing that I need to consider?

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  • My first thought are the same people visiting the place and who is responsible for theft, insurance?

  • My first thought would be to ask about artist turnover in places you are interested in. I would view it as positive if they gave an answer to this question without hesitation and beating around the bush.

    It is well worth a try when comparing the monthly cost of space to expenses relating to doing an out of town show. Any way you view it there will be associated costs.

    Were you in St Tammany or Livingston? I am familiar with both.

    Driving an hour or so on a Saturday can be a completely different traffic experience depending on the time of day and if it is a weekday or weekend...

    • Greg, I was in Tangi.  We were in Covington mostly but also Mandeville.  The 2 booth malls on the northshore are both on North Collins, which is Hwy. 190, I believe.  They are about 3 blocks apart.

      I agree that the time of day we would leave would make a big difference in time, just because of drive time on I-10 between I-310 and Causeway.  When we drove over we allowed 2 hours even though Google Drive said it would take about a buck 30.  This gave us time for a potty break and still arrive by opening time.  I prefer a potty break just before getting on Causeway because I know it's going to be 20+ minutes before the opportunity comes up again.  vbg

      All the booth malls we looked at are nice enough for me to consider, but the store we are preferring is The Painted Pelican.  They have been open about a year.  From what I have read on their FB page they have between 40 and 50 sellers there.  The lady I spoke with at the store said that there is not a big turnover.

      This evening dh and I are going to sit down and write down the pros and cons of having a booth in general and specifically at this store.  One thing we are considering is that this is a way to diversify into a retail setting without being tied down to a store we own.  We already own a B & M and dh is working his way into retiring.  We aren't planning on selling but he is working on cutting back the time he is there.  So starting over with a new B & M of our own is contrary to what our overall goals are at this time.  A booth setting seems like the perfect solution in diversifying.

      Greg, if you have any input on the area (Tangi), I would appreciate it.  I do know that the lady at the store said there is "a lot of wealthy people in Mandeville".  From what we saw of pricing of even thrift store prices, the standard of living seems higher there than in Terrebonne Parish where I live.

      • Covington and Mandeville have a good variety of stores. Carol and I have been to the area often. We have also participated in the Three Rivers Art Festrival for the last 7 or 8 years and love the area. I lived near Covington around 1970 when it was just wooded areas between the lake and downtown Covington.

        • That area, Mandeville, Madisonville, and Covington have seen tons of growth the last few years.  There are still some wooded areas but I am sure it's less than what you remember.  I told John that it goes from development to a Hansel & Gretel feel!

          • Many years ago I restored an old wooden yacht that was in Madisonville at the Mire's marina. I remember fishing off the wharf and hooking a large alligator. i could even sit on the boat and shoot my pistol at targets cause nothing was near there.  That area is full of Condo apartments now.

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