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Thread: Business Research (please!)

  1. #1

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    Question Business Research (please!)

    Bear with me people:

    I'm looking to start a new business, so I'm currently trying to work out finances and write a business plan. As part of this, I need to do some research into whether my business could have enough turnover to be self-sufficient (and maybe expand). So, for people in England (particularly the Midlands) - or you can answer as if you were:

    Would you do business with a specialist bookstore stocking Speculative fiction, political commentary (feminist, AR, Ecology etc), and textbooks at higher education level?

    Would a coffee bar (with soy/rice milk, and yummy vegan snacks) encourage you to visit/stay longer?

    How often would you be likely to visit? (Store would be based in Birmingham)

    And roughly what would be your usual spend in a place like this?


    And oh, and other suggestions for stock, and events etc would be great - we're also wanting to do small publishing of new fiction and articles, and website design....

    Thanks for your time everyone!

  2. #2
    spo
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Oh, Bittersweet, you just made me cry ---I'm on Long Island and I long for a place, like the one you are starting, to be here

    So you probably guessed it - that YES I would do business and hang around a lot longer with a vegan coffee bar there; and I would come in at least twice a week and spend $20 or so each time. The publishing idea is a great one and lots of people like me would try to get some of their stuff published by you.
    I hope I helped even though I'm not going to be one of your customers--
    (what's the icon for a sobbing vegan?)

    spo

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Thanks Spo - that's encouraging (and if you ever wanted to come to the UK for a holiday and this gets off the ground, you could always visit ). Additionally, there's nothing to say you couldn't submit some work for publication by e-mail - distance is no object for electrons!

  4. #4
    spo
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Thanks Bittersweet, I will come for a visit if I go to the UK
    Please keep us up-to-date on it; you know--how it's going, and when it opens OK?
    Thanks-spo

  5. #5
    Aurora's Avatar
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Where in Brum were you thinking about? I know the place pretty well having been born and brought up there.

    There are a lot of bookshops scattered around. I'm not sure I would spend much time in there for such books......me being a bit of an old witch and 'into' alternative therapies, but the vegan coffee bar sounds good

    Good luck

  6. #6

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    Smile Re: Business Research (please!)

    There's a property in Stirchley we have our eye on - v. close to Bourneville train station.

    A bit run down, but we actually like that, 'cause we feel we could promote literacy in the community by forging links with the (very!) local school...and there's certainly no other bookshops nearby.

    We'd probably end up relying a lot on the university for trade, and (hopefully, eventually) the school and their families...it would be a good community to bring a very "gentle" (ie tasty and non sacrificing) version of veganism to...although to begin with, we would literally only be doing drinks and snacks...full meals are a dream for expansion!

    I have debated with myself about having more alternative therapy etc - we want to market to alternatve lifestyles, but being a bit of an old cynic, I would have to pick stock very carefully, or risk not being able to sell it with a straight face. Be good to have some Starhawk, or similar crossover authors though...

  7. #7
    Aurora's Avatar
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Good place to have the shop then if it's near the University. Good luck.

    My husband used to go to Birmingham University and we lived in Northfield until 1982.

  8. #8
    kriz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    The coffe bar is definitely a big plus! I think people like a little bit of everything when they go shopping - even in a bookstore. Are you going to sell other vegan items as well?
    "Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends". ~ George Bernhard Shaw.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Hi there! Do you know the warehouse cafť in Digbeth? Well it might be up for sale soon. It would be great if you could take that on and sell books you are thinking about. Also it would be a great place to invite bands to put on music gigs. Like punk hardcore music as I know a lot of those kids are veggie and like to read political stuff. Another good thing would be to put DIY events on. Like talks about permiculture, Veganism, how to make things out of recycling etc. If you donít know how to get people to put music gigs on there, I am willing to tell you. Itís quite simple really!

    The Warehouse is also quite close to Aston uni and in the centre of town

  10. #10
    pixeequeen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Sounds brill bittersweet. I see you arehoping to aim at a university, I hope I can give a helpful student perspective- perhaps some communicaton with the local university(s) to find out the set textbooks would be an idea. I don't think as many students as 'should' be are actively interested in veganism or politics, social commentory so you might need something else to bring them in, but many have an open mind to stuff so if you got them in I bet theyd buy. Maybe gigs like trendygirl suggested, or uni textbooks would do this I guess. I love trendys idea of DIY sessions, and if you do open I will definitely popping over to visit!
    www.myspace.com/natureworks1

  11. #11

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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Quote kriz
    The coffe bar is definitely a big plus! I think people like a little bit of everything when they go shopping - even in a bookstore. Are you going to sell other vegan items as well?
    apart from books and mags...well, I have a large box of canvas plimsolls to sell (meant to order all in my size, got assorted, and as they're import, need to recoup postage!)...but really it depends on space and what's selling. Maybe small counter items (wallets etc). Heck, we're still in the "is this even feasible" stage at the mo!

  12. #12
    told me to Mr Flibble's Avatar
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    still going/gone ahead?

  13. #13

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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Postponed for a year until my partner does a postgrad course - decided we needed a high earner to see us through the start-up phase!

  14. #14
    Kevster
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Here's a little info on a place in Manchester i've visited, really liked it here:

    http://shortcutz.nologic.org/thebase..._relesease.htm

    It's more of a radical social centre type place, with room for people to have meetings etc.....

  15. #15

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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    As a private business, we likely couldn't afford the space required to have meetings of any great size (at least at first). My real aim is to have a bookshop where people like me could spend the whole day if they wanted - so food and likeminded company are a must. If there were other like-minded people, I would be interested in whether a co-operative venture would be worthwhile though, and that might lend itself more to that style of thing.

    I notice not many people have commented on the speculative fiction aspect - which is my real first love in the book trade - what, no sci-fi or fantasy readers/gamers out there?

  16. #16
    told me to Mr Flibble's Avatar
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Quote bittersweet
    Would you do business with a specialist bookstore stocking Speculative fiction, political commentary (feminist, AR, Ecology etc), and textbooks at higher education level?
    Feminists scare me. I do like books a lot, but I tend to read more geeky non fiction books I can already easily get elsewhere. I also like and buy cookbooks, and sometimes am willing to pay slightly more than amazon prices if i get a chance to read through multiple books before buying them without getting scowled at for taking too long

    Quote bittersweet
    Would a coffee bar (with soy/rice milk, and yummy vegan snacks) encourage you to visit/stay longer?
    absolutely

    Quote bittersweet
    How often would you be likely to visit? (Store would be based in Birmingham)
    Couldn't honestly answer this. My world is changing at the moment because I'm learning to drive, and the places I'm willing to go will change dramatically when I don't have to rely on public transport. I currently live in Coventry, so brum isn't that far, but I've already a good local italian coffee shop we go to that does organic/fairtrade, so I'm not sure how often I can honestly say I'd go. It's definately something I'd check out whilst in birmingham already.

    Quote bittersweet
    And roughly what would be your usual spend in a place like this?
    Hard to say. I normally spent 25 to 50 a month on books, but most of those are currently through amazon. Food wise I'll pay anything upto 20 quid per head depending how good it is, but cafe style stuff I wouldn't expect more than 10, 5 more like it for a meal, a couple of quid for a generous piece of calorific cake. Coffee shouldn't be more than about 1.50 for an americano

    Quote bittersweet
    notice not many people have commented on the speculative fiction aspect - which is my real first love in the book trade - what, no sci-fi or fantasy readers/gamers out there?
    nope, I have a great imagination, but am too lazy and prefer to watch sci-fi films instead. My ex is vegan and reads that sort of thing thou

  17. #17
    Gliondrach
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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    I'm not an enthusiast of sci-fi or fant-fi. AR and ecology books would get my attention. And books on popular psychology, alternative energy, and health. A general second-hand section would be popular or a section selling general new books - remaindered books. You can buy them for 10p for paperbacks and 50p for hardbacks. These are the kind you see in those discount book shops. They sell hard back books for £2 instead of the original price of £12. I know that these are not the type of comments that you are looking for, but they might give you some ideas. Or they might not.

    A shop selling books that I wanted and that sold vegan snacks would definitely be somewhere where I would like to go. I don't know how much I would spend. I don't buy as many books now as I used to.

    Some of the pagan/mysteries magazines could be popular. They often have articles about animals and ecology.

    If there was a spare room you could hire it out to therapists.

    Good luck.

  18. #18

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    Default Re: Business Research (please!)

    Thank you all for your comments - the more people who just jot in here over the next few months, the more idea I'll have of the market when we're in a position to look seriously at premises and business plans.

    Again - thank you all...and keep the ideas/comments coming (I'll never give up on the sci-fi/fantasy base though - that's what drew me to the idea in the first place!)

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