Small Business start-up, part 1. the shop.

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small business

early 1900’s to present


After many months (years, really) of planning and dreaming about a small business, I am about to embark on my next adventure: A retail vintage shop… hopefully with coffee too!  I will be writing about all the steps I go through to build out and start a small business in this building in a really small town.

The storefront is a circa 1900 brick row building in a small town and it is loaded with potential for my small business.  Read here if you are interested in how I acquired the building. I kind of stole it!

Most people will do the smart thing and plan the small business and THEN find the perfect location, I rarely do things in the best order so we will just have to see what happens!

Built around 1900, the storefront has had many lives:  From a hardware store in its earliest days to a pool hall, a millinery shop, a barber shop, a bakery, a tax office and even an apartment for a while. I have used the place as a location for indoor yard sales many times and have always had good traffic. This gives me hope that people will come and check out the vintage shop too.

Keeping my small town location in mind and the fact that I am still working more than full time in my career, my business will have one big and unusual difference to most new businesses: I plan to only open one weekend per month as this will allow me to acquire and create inventory while still leaving me time for my career and other aspects of my life.

The shop will sell vintage furniture and fun junk, plus some lighting, paints and supplies, and smaller new items for the home.  Because I have also always wanted a cafe in this location, I am planning to have good coffee, teas, cocoa, and maybe some baked goods available as well.

Here is what the interior of the old storefront looked like when I bought it.

small business

storefront interior

Previous plumbing and heating installation was accomplished by pulling down the metal ceiling panels. All the old metal was later removed because there was no insulation or fire separation from the second floor apartments.

The two remodeled upstairs apartments are now rented out. The building covers all its costs and produces a modest rental income. Equally important is that more and more people are living in our little downtown area.

The good points of the storefront are ten foot ceilings and about 1200 square feet of mostly open space! The local government is easy to work with and encourages new business too.

From what I am learning about business and taxes, it looks like I will be renting the storefront space to my business. There is still so much for me to learn!

My current to-do list is long:

Finish insulation


Pretty up the public restrooms

Two hour fire rated ceiling (this allows any type of business to occupy space below living quarters)


Redo the old wood floors.

Displays and fixtures.

I know there is a lot I do not know. Please comment and tell me what you have done or plan to do for your small business and storefront.









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