You know this already. We've all heard it. The three most important things in real estate are location, location and location. And when you're speaking of Manhattan real estate you had better add numerous zeros. This 'City that Never Sleeps' offers everything you could want (and maybe some things that you don't) throughout the city. And there's a price for that convenience. Whether you rent or own, a Manhattan store is no small investment. With rents in the 10's of thousands of dollars per month and prices to own in the millions, what is a start up business to do? That all depends on the kind of start up. The one I'll talk about is one in the art and antiques field (shocker!).
But first, let's take a trip back through time a bit. Who were the people who built New York City? No, not the gorgeous skyscrapers, infrastructure and parks, but those who began businesses here? We've all seen photos of immigrants coming to New York City by the boat load. These people were drawn to this city because it provided opportunity. They opened shops and brought traditions from their homelands. They made the city what it is today. Truly a melting pot of cultures, traditions and experiences. In a city not far from New York, Philadelphia, an art dealer wanted to have his own gallery. Without the funds to rent a shop, he placed his paintings on a horse drawn carriage and took his art to the people. Walking up and down the cobble stone streets, he started his business. This gallery exists today and is flourishing. I was told this story when I was about nine years old and it has stuck with me all these years. (Number of years not to be mentioned...). To recreate either of these situations today is impossible. So what to do?
With a lease far from my grasp, I had to come up with a game plan to enter the Manhattan market. I looked at a few small stores in marginal neighborhoods, but without having the laundry list of rental requirements and being a one woman operation I kept on looking. I considered placing some things into a friend's store, but that was too far out of my comfort zone. Admittedly, I like to be the one running the show. And without my own store, there's no show to run. There must be some way to get the door open? Yes. Unite with other dealers while retaining autonomy! Give a little to get a lot. In other words, join an antiques center! Manhattan has no shortage of famous antiques and design shops, likewise there are also a few great antiques and design centers. But, which is right for me?
I checked out those available in New York City and was immediately drawn to Center44. Well vetted boutiques offering everything from Traditional to Ultra-Contemporary with an emphasis on Mid-Century Modern - this was the place where I felt I could be successful. The Midtown Manhattan location was a dream come true. The entire second floor of the Creative Arts Building was a perfect fit. I felt at home. This has allowed me to be in business in Manhattan. No small task. There is strength in numbers and this center has a huge draw. The perfect solution.
My days are spent shopping for great pieces of art, furniture, accessories and thinking how they will look in my space at Center44. Early morning weekend trips to the flea market, often wind up at Center44 with those fresh picks being offered within hours of purchase. Then there are the items that I carry down on the train from Connecticut and walk over to the Center, but usually I'll drive everything in. It is not unusual to see me there with the aisle in front of my space completely full with my inventory as I move everything from one side to the other. Calling this a workout is an understatement. For whatever reason, I am usually drawn to the heaviest object for sale. But, I digress. Photographs and videos of the space come next in my marketing plan. Without a huge budget for advertising, I've made great use of Social Networking. Posting updates on these sites, allows me to get the word out to friends, followers and subscribers who have a genuine interest in the arts and antiques. This is truly a targeted marketing approach.
So, I got the door open. I have a presence in Manhattan and on-line. If you are thinking of ways to reach out and broaden your scope, perhaps this plan will also suit you well. There are plenty of ways to start up your own business, they require a little more creativity and flexibility, so don't let anything stand in your way. This is a prime time to be your own boss and start your own business.