The Big Six Month Review

OverAttired Vintage Fashion has been open for six months!

I find this exciting, daunting, and 100 other emotions.

Sometimes I wonder why I moved from a low-stress regular 40hr/wk tech job to owning a business where I work literally every day, usually 10-12 hours/day.

And then someone new comes in, drops their jaw, and compliments what I’ve created, and I float on a little cloud.

Thank you all for giving me the ability to do this. I love it.

I know I love it, because I’m still tolerating this crazy schedule where I start work around 9am (usually with the first posting), and finish work back at home at 10pm with some amount of clothes sorting/laundry/etc.

It’s also very strange at times. I always worked in an office &/or for a consistent hourly wage before this. One of the most difficult and unpredicted parts of running OverAttired is that my whole livelihood depends on people coming in and making purchases. I start out every day opening up the shop with a knot in my stomach – will I make enough to pay rent today?

Promotion:

Promotion of the shop, a form of self-promotion, is the most difficult part of my job.

We all know businesses that we think should make more of an effort in promotion. The simple reason that they don’t is because it’s very hard.

I (like to) think I do a larger-than-normal amount of promotion for OverAttired, and do a better-than-normal job at it.

So I spend a lot of time in mental anguish.

Through all that, word-of-mouth is the very best form of shop-promotion I could ask for. If you’ve done it, then I can’t thank you enough. Please keep OverAttired in mind. Referrals and recommendations have opened far more doors than I’d ever be able to open on my own.

Finances:

Well, we’re doing better than when we started!

I’ve found that we make money through three ways:

  1. The shop, being a shop. Open good, consistent hours, with great vintage clothing, good sizing spread, alterations, and super-friendly and helpful, unpretentious staff.
  2. Shop Events. When we stay open a bit late, and generally have many more people browsing our racks than usual. I don’t count these as regular shop days, because everything about an Event Day is different.
  3. Etsy sales.

For the first few months the shop income was about 1/3 each way, but recently etsy has been creeping up to 40%. It’s difficult to know how to attribute this, and I’m just as unsure if it’s going to remain this way. In the first few months we were still trying to find our footing on etsy, and our Events had boosts from a small handful of large events (Soft Opening, Grand Opening, etc.).

Shop Hours:

I’ve now standardized the shop hours to 11-8 Daily, which is working great, and I don’t see it changing.

I tried to close on Mondays, and found that people came in on Tuesdays asking why we were closed when they tried to visit on Monday.

I tried to open at 10am on weekends, but learned that nobody visits downtown Oakland at 10am.

I tried to open at Noon on weekdays, but learned that enough people take an 11-Noon lunch.

I field a fair amount of friends suggesting I close the shop for a day, mostly for my own sanity. Put simply, we can’t afford it. When it becomes a thing we can afford, I probably still won’t do it, because I really like the idea of being open when people want us to be open, which means consistent hours, and remaining open until 8pm.

Happily, we don’t have a “most busy” day, and we don’t even really have a “most busy” hour!

We get a fair amount of customers throughout the day. Though difficult to notice at all, our “waves” of customers happen in the following slots:

11am-1pm: Stopping in on lunch break.

~3pm: Afternoon break. I’m amused that this wave is consistent with my past office job desire to get up and take a short walk around the same time.

5-7pm: After work crowd.

7-8pm: People coming from (or going to) Longitude.

Events:

I started out gleefully throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what stuck.

And eventually exhaustion set in.

I’m now hosting events about twice/month, which I think works the best for everyone involved – we get time to make use of Upstairs in other ways, and we don’t have to spend the end of every week prepping for an event.

I’m still happy to keep trying new things, because I think it’s fun, and I never know how well an idea will work.

As examples – A weekly period episodic show didn’t work. I had to cancel the Miss Fisher Wednesdays. Lots of other ideas have worked well, such as hosting The Vintage Style Council, which we enjoyed so much, we’re very excited to have them back this Saturday! https://overattired.com/eveningsalon/

Improvements:

My list of improvements continues to grow faster than I can cross them off. They grow so fast, I now have lists for short-term and long-term improvements.

And because I love instant gratification, I’ve mostly been focusing on the short-term list.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve hung the boat (https://www.instagram.com/p/BDj3_94jfGk/?taken-by=overattired) upstairs (then re-hung, then re-hung), painted the upstairs/mezzanine “front wall”, hung a low-profile chandelier (https://www.instagram.com/p/BEFbve_DfLS/?taken-by=overattired) in front of that front wall – which had to be dropped in front of the boat (there was a distinct order to all this), “properly” wired the chandelier into our electrical – it’s now on a switch/timer, so I can leave it on for two hours after closing (as a form of advertising), and override the timer when we want to keep it lit longer for evening events.

Next on the shortlist is to hang molding in the stairwell to hang thread spools, mount lighting under/inside the awning to shine on our gold window lettering, and finally hang our awning sign.

Before moving to a mostly bi-weekly event schedule, I didn’t have any time for improvements.

Goals:

One of the (MANY) surprising things I realized in owning a Brick&Mortar business is the stacked-up costs associated.

Here are my very generalized daily goals for OverAttired:

$125 – We made shop rent! For those first few months, this was an accomplishment. Currently, we make this goal probably 90% of the time.

$250 – And we paid an employee! I can’t stress how important it is for OverAttired to have an employee here (aside from me) nearly every day. I’m still working alone ~1 day/week, and it’s my least-productive, most-depressing day by far. And the shop makes less money (statistically).

$500 – And we’ve covered the cost of what we’ve sold! And maybe, Sam got paid. Six months in, profits still go right back into the shop. I’ve spent money at Home Depot multiple times/week every week since we signed the lease. I don’t know when that ends.

$1000 – (on a non-event day) PARTY!  The staff of the day go out for a drink next door after closing on OverAttired’s dime!

I started publicizing these goals to the staff about a month ago. We all laughed at the $1000 goal. It was hilarious. At the time we’d only hit $500 a couple times.

I am elated to be able to say that we’ve now made this goal TWICE!

So that was great. Like crying-with-happiness great. Those two days were a taste of “yeah, I think we can really make this a sustainable thing!” Someday.

Kickstarter Rewards:

We’ve fulfilled about half the rewards.

Rewards that take the largest time commitments (ties and hair flowers, for example) have been the most difficult.

The shop is barely breaking even, and if we moved a lot of our time toward making these things, it would torpedo the shop.

This reality is one of my biggest regrets, and we’re still working on a way to remedy it (that doesn’t also kill the business).

We have a plan in progress to make headway on them next week.

I’ll update on our progress (or lack of) after that week.

Customer Database:

This idea was a fan-favorite, and I’m very happy to report that we’re making a lot of progress on Version 1 of the Clientele Dossier! We don’t have a release date yet, mostly because as soon as it works, we’ll release it, and alas, it doesn’t work yet.

Customer Split:

We commonly get asked about our customer split, a thing I care very much about too, because it heavily factors into the eternal question of “Do we stay at this location and keep paying lots of rent?”

So far, the answer is Yes.

In a little more detail, the shop location confirmed a lot of my expected needs – as much foot traffic as we can afford, easy walking distance to Bart, parking, neighborhood as nice as we can afford, and only in the “inner Bay Area” of Oakland/SF/Berkeley.

The added “bonus” of being nearly-next-door to Longitude, our favorite Tiki bar, is wonderful.

Our customer base is about half Friends and half Walk-ins, with some fuzzy area in the middle, as repeat Walk-in customers quickly become our friends (Hi Max! Hi Bri! Hi 200 other fabulous friends I’ve made through the shop!!)

Thank You. 

For taking the chance on this idea, and for believing in it, and in us.

Unrelated to our general backer list, I’d like to personally thank my (now fellow) friends that own their own local small business. I quizzed you about things, sometimes very personal, and you never declined. You were encouraging, yet realistic.

My heart leaps a little higher whenever I think about you, and I have all the respect and admiration for you.

James – http://www.bridgepointmusic.com

Suzanne – http://longitudeoakland.com

Autumn – http://www.darkgarden.com

Robynne – http://www.yelp.com/biz/a-revelation-in-fit-oakland

Oran – http://www.relicvintagesf.com

Jim – http://www.piedmontpiano.com

Laurie & Rick – http://artdecocollection.com

Terra, thank you for believing in this, and all your help and knowledge. OverAttired wouldn’t be nearly as great without your constant input and creativity.

To our Angel backer, thank you for the leap of faith. At the perfect time, it meant everything to me that someone would believe in me that much, and it really helped push us over. I don’t want to imagine what would’ve happened without your help.

To the Kickstarter Team, for creating a tool that I had previously used to help fund dozens of other dreams, and then got the chance to use it to fund my own. We wouldn’t be here without Kickstarter.

Paul and Justin of Zoetic Labs – your work on our Video and Graphics remains excellent. I think back to my previous ideas for a Kickstarter Video, and you surpassed them in so many ways! I also get compliments on our logo all the time. It’s perfect. OverAttired business cards are nearly ubiquitous among friends. http://zoeticlabs.com

Six months in. We’re not actually profitable, but we’re breaking even (meaning I don’t take a salary). We’re doing better than standards/expectations.

I couldn’t have done this without you all, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Best Regards,

Sam Simmons
Proprietor
OverAttired Vintage Fashion
OverAttired.com
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One thought on “The Big Six Month Review

  1. Pingback: The Big One Year Review | OverAttired

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