Selling Without a Store

Since July of 2011, Jones has been selling his donuts from Dekalb Market, a flea market in downtown Brooklyn, New York, where small businesses sell from salvaged shipping containers for $50 to $75 per day. The market is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The portable nature of flea market venues also makes it easy for Jones to take his show on the road wherever there’s a demand. “I do weddings, corporate events, and even the bar mitzvah circuit,” he says.

Jones has been in the donut-making business for some 37 years, including a previous career stint at Dunkin’ Donuts. He says the idea to do miniature donuts provided a unique twist that differentiated him from his former employers. “We are going to be the White Castle of the donut industry.” 

GETTING STARTED
Ready to open an alternative storefront? Here are some tips for getting the ball rolling.

Pop-Up Shops:
You can set up shop in a vacant warehouse, storefront in the mall, or some other shopping center and negotiate a short-term lease. With high vacancy rates, landlords will be more agreeable. The PopUpInsider.com is one source for matching retailers with landlords as well as providing how-to info. You also can find spaces for lease or sublease, and commercial real estate brokers at CommercialSource.com.

Online Marketplaces: Before making your first sale, take the time to read all of the FAQs and tips on Etsy’s site. Check out Etsy.com/Forums and the “Open a Shop” section in Etsy.com/Help/Topics. Aspiring eBay sellers should read The Official eBay Bible by Jim Griffith.

Food Trucks:
A truck will cost around $40,000 to $100,000, depending on if you buy it refurbished or new. But first find out whether food trucks are legal in your city or if there’s a cap on the number of food trucks allowed. Like traditional restaurants, food truck operators need to have certain permits and licenses, and to pass safety inspections. Learn more from the National Restaurant Association at www.restaurant.org.

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