$2000 to spend on a small start-up business - WWYD?
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  1. #1
    Registered User CookieLee's Avatar
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    Default $2000 to spend on a small start-up business - WWYD?

    I volunteer at a small hospital which includes manning the gift shop. Our gift shop needed new vendors and more products but our budget it limited so we've started taking on consignors.

    I've been making deco mesh wreaths for the gift shop. At first I was a consignor but switched to having the gift shop buy all the supplies and taking all the profits. My labor is free. My timing of getting out of the wreath business was good as sales have now slowed down.

    My daughter makes bead jewelry and sells it through the gift shop. Sales are slow.

    I tried selling Avon and essential oils through the gift shop. Those didn't take off.

    One of the consignors sells memo boards. They're new. I don't want to duplicate.

    We have a goats milk soap consignor but her stock sold out and she hasn't re-stocked.

    There is an employee at the store who has an embroidery and ribbon bow business. He sells under the table at the hospital but refuses to become a consignor. An embroidery business has always fascinated me and we could buy an entry model commercial machine.

    A woman tried a custom painted wood letter business but it didn't take off. I think it was the quality of her demo item that killed that plus it took her forever to make up an order form which I think affected people who had expressed interest.

    We have a woman who knits a few items and her sister makes quilts that we sell.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    So I'm trying to come up with a different kind of hand-made item that I could consign at the gift shop and maybe sell through Etsy.

    In the past I've made hand painted 'silk' scarves (actually they are 100% polyester but they're nice). It would take about $200 to start up business again.

    I could make specialty soaps, especially since I could use my essential oils, but based on the Avon sales and goat milk soap sales, I'm not sure how that would go.

    I've had good luck with fleece items, especially for children, and I have a couple of patterns of my own that were successful when DD was smaller and I lived in another state. I'm not sure how those would take off now and whether or not that would compete with the consignors we already have.

    If I could set up a space in our back bedroom for sewing, I could sew a few items and try them out. We think the gift shop would benefit from novelty hospital gowns that patients could buy for use at home. The only reason I have hesitated is because I still remember how much the deco mesh wreaths took over my house.

    Anyway, I have other ideas but I feel like it has all been "done". Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Registered User CookieLee's Avatar
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    I should have added ...

    around here two big businesses are pottery and painted furniture. The gift shop sells neither. I've toyed with the painted furniture idea ... on a small scale.

  3. #3
    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    I would try to think about the needs of your customers. I presume most of them are either patients, or visitors of those patients. Visitors would be looking for cards or something similar to cheer up their sick friends and family. Maybe a book to read in the waiting room, a stuffed animal or a game for a child to while away the hours. What about travel pillows? Bed shawls? Inspirational verses?

    I've always wondered about hospital gift shops. It's the last place I'd think of shopping for goats milk soap, custom painted letters or Avon. I see a lot of stuff in them that is better suited for a home dec store.
    Stop trying to organize all of your family’s crap. If organization worked for you, you’d have rocked it by now. It’s time to ditch stuff and de-crapify your world.

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    Registered User Raiquee's Avatar
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    I work in a hospital and the main sellers at our gift shop is they have a small coffee maker to make "speciality" drinks, snacks (candy), and balloons. Snacks and stuff usually are big sellers with employees more than visitors.

    Prayer things would be good...prayer beads, prayer cards, prayer books?

    Maybe some cute things for babies also if you're a baby hospital.

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    Registered User Raiquee's Avatar
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    Oh just though of something else! If you are a baby hospital, a cute small basket for mama. Like a "good job mama" basket! Fill it with chocolates, a small photo album, some wooly socks, some advil (lol), some pampering things. All things to congratulate mama on the big birth!

  7. #6
    Registered User CookieLee's Avatar
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    The hospital is small and rural. The highest percentage of patients are from the attached nursing home when they develop an illness and need more care than they'd get over there. We don't have a pediatrician in town anymore so no babies are born at the hospital. We rarely have children. We used to do a booming baby business and the other volunteers are having a hard time adjusting to that loss of business. We still do sell baby items but it is to staff members who have children - or more likely, grandchildren - of their own. I still get requests for custom deco mesh wreaths for babies. It is traditional here to decorate the door to the labor room.

    Our gift shop is exceptionally small - about the size of a large walk-in closet. We do sell balloons and I'm surprised that we don't sell more because we're one of the few sellers in a large geographical area. We also sell candy which is our top sellers as the alternative is the cafeteria which has limited hours, vending machines and the gas station down the road. I'd love to add something like specialty coffees or teas but we're not staffed enough yet for anything like that. (hmmm, maybe I will add little boxes of tea and small bottles of honey to our inventory, though.)

    We sell totes, scarves and jewelry. I make candy bar bouquets which are quite popular as gifts (usually patients thanking the staff members). We've added candles but they aren't selling well. We sometimes have nursing students who come in for training at the hospital and, if we're stocked correctly, they'll wipe us out of nursing related merchandise. We sell seasonal decor items. I should ramp up on making some craft items for Christmas sales.

    Those big hair bows are quite popular in the area. The guy who sells under the table makes those, too. I'm thought of making some but in small batches I can't be price competitive and I'm competing against a lot of moms who make them at home. (I used to be one of those moms.)

    I'm looking for something I could sell through the gift shop then, when I have the method perfected, sell on-line, too.

    We do have cards but sales have tanked, mostly because of the poor selection. I'm trying to get one of the adult daughters of a staff member who is a artist and photographer to make up some cards of her work. So far it hasn't happened. I could do it but that would be a duplication and I don't want to discourage her from getting around to it.

    I'm interested in a business of making wedding and first communion veils but those wouldn't sell through the gift shop.

    Oh and I do make gift baskets. Sometimes that is the best way to move merchandise that isn't moving any other way. Sometimes I'll have silent auctions for gift baskets just to generate sales.

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