I've been kicking around the idea for the past 2-3 years of having a store front in a tourist town instead just selling online, craft shows and through Facebook. Places like Branson, MO, Eureka Springs, AR, , Hot Springs, AR, Gatlinburg, TN, Nashville, TN, etc.
I know there are extra cost in doing this like overhead costs, taxes, bills (rent, utilities, etc.). What are your thoughts, the good, the bad and the ugly? Has anyone done this?
To me it fits into that category of "dreams" like having a little book store/coffee bar or a little B&B. Problem is, reality tends to get in the way. Besides the expense(s) for a brick & mortar store the fact that these types of tourist towns tend to be seasonal, you have to consider how you will be able to build, sell and be cordial to customers (and oh yea, give lessons). It's a big challenge.
You may want to look into renting display space in an existing store front in one of the areas you are interested in. That may allow you to assess the market potential and see the harsh realities of seasonal business.
I'm not trying to discourage you. Just saying to tiptoe in before you burn through a lot of case learning the ropes.
Best of luck whatever you do.
I'd advise against it if you're planning on just selling cigar box guitars. Low profit margin and lack of demand (amidst the general population) are not a successful combo.
I know a bit about Branson and Eureka Springs. I've written books for some of the biggest attractions there, as well as the first and second editions of what is generally considered the top travel book on the Ozarks ("An Explorer's Guide to the Ozarks" - from W.W. Norton). Crafters and artisans in those areas often have a hard time making it. You'll often see larger spaces - sometimes a collective type situation, but more often a straight rental - where individual artisans have a small booth under a single roof. Specific to music in those locales, you would be competing directly against folks (a couple of them pretty well established) offering traditionally built dulcimers, banjos, mandos, psaltries, etc.
Potential buyers in those areas will be almost exclusively tourists. They're older, and often not of high income. Plus, CBGs are often associated with the blues, and people who like the blues. You might occasionally get a blues act in Eureka . . . but never in Branson
I get the impression that the only reliable way to make a decent, craft-related income in the Ozarks is by renting out space to other crafters.
Thanks for all the thoughts guys. Actually live in another state and my wife and I are thinking about moving and starting a new journey in our lives, I actually do a lot of woodworking, build furniture, wooden toys, etc and of course cigar box guitars, getting close to 100 now. This helps me, I'll look more into renting out space and see how that goes. Right now we go to craft shows, local events, etc and the cost of travel, gas, meals, hotels if more than 1 day event, putting up tents, etc just wears on you sometimes and that's why we where throwing around the idea of staying in one spot for a store and thought a tourist town might be worth the try and yes I know there are seasonal times when you be busy but was thinking in the "off season" that when you build like crazy for more supply. I've just visited several of these tourist towns and have always wonder about it.
Thanks for all your help, I'll keep a lot for this in mind.
Hi Josh, I'm being guided by Blind Doughboys comments.
I do as you propose to do and have done so for the last 20 years or so, I have a showroom / display area. The difference is that I live at the same location as my workshop/ showroom. Which has its good and not so good points at times.
I live in a small goldmining town [big gold long gone] 1.5 hours from the nearest big -ish city. The main income in the town would now be tourism. I've had some nice big sales to tourists, not all of them are poor [not when you look at the rigs they are getting around in]. Anyway, they would not pay the bills over time.
If you have a sideline to get through the none tourist times, that may help. I do instrument repairs and my customers cover a large part of our state, 130klm to the coast and 700klm west, inland, plus north and south about 500klm. But even then its just a trickle of jobs in.
If you build a good reputation people will travel to you, but that takes time.
Living on site is good if you are relying on tourists because I can be available after hours, and that's when tourist prop for the night or two, and I can sell something before they move on.
As an example, two people from out of town called in on a Sunday, one wanted guitar picks. I remember giving him the picks for free after chatting for a while.......he ended up buying thee full size acoustic guitars, over the next few years, and two mandolins one of which I sent to the USA.
The other person called in to look at what CBG's look like, and bought a $1500.00 resonator guitar. I had to send it 3000klm to where he lived, he carried on touring.
If you are living on site you save on much of the overheads andwill not miss too many sales.
Good luck Taff
Thanks for this, this make me feel better.
Have you thought about asking a local guitar shop or pawnshop to feature your CBG's?
hi Paul, that's a good idea but when I tried it the commission they wanted either made the instrument too expensive, if I put that on top, or I got too little for my efforts if I discounted my selling price.
I worked out that if I made a production line, made all the guitars the same, and cut a few corners I could do it, but that's not me. Where's the joy in that. but if you want to make a living out of it maybe that's what you got to do.
Product cost's, their markup to cover their building cost's and employees.
That's why guitars cost so much at a store.
I live in a small farming community of 2500, real small, we don't have guitar shop or a pawnshop. The ones I've sold were online or at shows.
My wife and I own a building with a store on the ground floor in Appalachian tourist country- two hours from the coast. We sell fair trade products- primarily clothes and jewelry which we buy on a 5 month trip every year to southeast Asia. I started building cigar box guitars a couple of years ago after a life as a media artist/professor in New York and all over the world. To date I have sold 60 cigar box guitars. I have sign in the front window and I hang my boxes in the back of the shop. They are all electric with a mix of piezo, magnetic pickups, resonators, etc. I learned how to build synthesizers and rock and roll pedals back in the '70's so the electronics part is no big deal for me. I got into fretting and routing and all kinds of things I had never done before right from the start and got it all under control fast- because I HAD TO to keep up with the big boys! Selling in a tourist town is a nice idea, but you get a lot of 'looky lookers' who love the instruments but don't buy. I would say half of my boxes go to non-musicians who want to play or else hang them on the wall; half have been sold to musicians, and some have been sold to art world friends and former students who I sent pictures of recent builds to. Living in this town where decent Fender and Les Paul clones can be picked up a pawn shop nearby for $100-$300, it is tough to charge serious money for a cigar box guitar- no matter how beautiful, well made, or bluesy they sound. I sell mine from between $150-$250 (depending on the pickups and the complexity) plus shipping. If I was on either coast and had a gallery in New York or San Francisco, my artist friends there say my cigar box guitars would be selling for between $1000 on up. But that is the art scene- which is a WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD than the arts and crafts world. Unless you are churning out production levels, you can forget about paying for a shop and taxes and materials and expenses. Now people are turning out kits so you don't have to learn too much yourself- which to me, takes the fun out of it for both maker and buyer. My interest is learning new things every day, fighting off dementia, and making people happy thru music. I just got a band saw and am loving it. I built my own jigs for scarfing and another jig for cutting frets quickly and accurately with a power drill. Youtube is where it is at. I am on it ALL of the time. As Del Puckett says: '6 strings are 3 strings too many!' There are builders. There are players. Then there are builders who are also players. Good luck!
Yes, I have through about that some myself and I agree with Paul Graig the guitar shop's ..But there mark up makes a $169.00 guitar $269.00 slowing the sell's down .however you can stock more than one store.i was thing a 50 mile rad.
While a guitar shop or pawnshop may be a bad idea, other shops may be more willing to sell your product at a reasonable price for you and them. A shop that sells antiques, old style decor or consignment shop.