About 50% of North Americans are employed by small businesses so many of those reading this have a respect for entrepreneurship. If you are thinking of venturing out on your own, you need to read this if you want to open a storefront. As you imagine what your main business thrust will be, try to pick something that will complement mail drop off customers.
The business model of 3 Divas In The Attic is an interesting case study because it shows how a hybrid office supply store can be successful just because it’s a hybrid. Here customers can drop off a FedEx package, make copies, browse an art gallery and get interior design consultation all in one visit. The store also offers classes that resonate with customers like how to create memory books for their memorabilia. If there is one theme that connects each component of the store, it would probably be “community”. Between the artwork, kitchen supplies and printing services there is a strong sense that everyone belongs there.
There is another path in the mail services industry and it’s becoming a popular move for people who want a secure win. They start a Safe Ship franchise with nominal startup costs and no startup royalties. In 2005 and 2006, Safe Ship won the DASC award of excellence for being the largest shipping operation in the US. These franchises are now all over the US with 30 years of experience that’s put to use in the form of close mentoring. Safe Ship even helps you find the right location and counsels on leasing agreements so that you are established on solid ground.
Whether you choose to start your own drop off center or go through a franchise like Safe Ship, you know that providing a hybrid experience is a viable business plan. So let’s take this storefront model a step further. Some people actually add storage facilities if they have enough real estate. Because there is a steady flow of mail customers, these facilities tend to fill up quicker than usual. Americans and Canadians love their “stuff” so much that they end up paying for its storage instead of throwing it away.
The main idea of this chapter is to show you that having a storefront can be successful if you are willing to diversify. If you just plan on setting up a government mail drop off store(USPS) with no other income streams, most likely you will fail. Currently, for every one contracted government post office that opens, two close. This wouldn’t be the case if the walk-ins saw other services available as evidenced by a local mail drop off center that I frequently use. Because they offer a variety of services (printing, post office boxes and gifts), they have recently outgrown their original location. Soon they will be moving into a much bigger space with a separate gift shop, printing area and cargo bays. One of their spokespeople has told me that they are getting so many print orders they end up turning at least one down on a daily basis. She was emphatic that they have stumbled upon a really good business model and what the customers see at the counter is just a small part of it. It’s not all mail. Through my own observations the hybrid storefront model has obviously worked for them.