If you’ve kept up thus far, you already know that things at work are going south, and I’m in serious need of a sea change. To that end, I’ve got two possibilities as I see it. I can get certified in something and get stuck in another job that I’m not going to like, or I can go into business for myself on something that I’m at least interested in. The first option provides me with stability, a steady paycheck, potential advancement, and the chance to actually go somewhere and do something a couple of weeks out of the year. In short, the *ahem* American Dream as most people understand it. The second option means I’m my own boss, I operate with long hours under total immersion conditions, and anything resembling stability, a steady paycheck, or the ability to do absolutely anything else is completely reliant upon my ability to make this option work. In short, the American Dream as it was intended. The path of logic would dictate that this isn’t even remotely a good idea. There’s nothing about the situation at work that caused this entire line of thinking that’s logic friendly, so why start now?
I got to talking with a couple of friends yesterday about my current work situation, and upon brainstorming this out, the idea of a shop was put forth. I’m not a people person, but the trick to making something like this work to cull out the people you don’t want to deal with and bring in the people you do. In short, you have to find your tribe. Send up smoke signals and call to them. It has to be the kind of shop that is niche enough that people want to come in and make it work, but not so niche that nobody wants to actually buy anything.
I’m going to operate this week on the idea of what it would take to make this a reality because I think it’s a good idea. That said, I want to run it by you, my globally-awesome readers.
The first point in any act of creation is to work with what you know. I have a lot of interests, as anyone who knows me can readily point out. But my interests have waxed and waned over the years with a peculiar subset of notable exceptions. So let’s work with the potential of what this offers. Follow along, if you will.
The name of the store is “HUZZAH!” On the surface, the theme of the shop is Renaissance Festival… otherwise known as that one time of the year I look forward to all year long. The store will specialize in wares themed along those lines. I’m not certain yet how to go about the fully customized costume route, but that might be an option to explore. Certainly we’d be able to stock things like cloaks and costume paraphernalia, basic shirts, pants, dresses, and such. There are also the options for such things as jewelry, flasks, belts, cosplay weapons (I intend to see what it’d take to sell the real deal)… basically catering to the historical side of the Ren Fest experience. But, I also acknowledge that pop culture plays a part of these things too, so keeping a finger on the pulse of such trends, we can stock trademark items for popular shows or films (Game of Thrones, etc.). While it wouldn’t be a wide selection (dictated by the size of whatever store I get), I could carry a specific selection of books, music, games, toys, etc. And for those with custom needs, there is a possibility of getting flags or banners designed, or something along those lines.
The Dallas / Fort Worth area is culturally rich with people interested in this sort of thing. There is a strong Irish / Scottish contingent in DFW as part of the heritage here. There’s a store in nearby Grapevine, the British Emporium, that specializes in catering to ex-pats from the UK. There’s Scarborough Renaissance Festival in nearby Waxahachie. There’s the North Texas Irish Music Festival. There’s the Society for Creative Anachronism, Ampgard, and other such groups operating locally. And we have a rotating schedule of conventions that prove that geekdom in all its forms is alive and well because people are always seeking some kind of creative / escapist outlet. The recent visit to the Dallas Museum of Art proved to me that there are all manner of local talent that I didn’t know about, and there’s a crowd of non-museum goers willing to pop out just to see bands like Saxon Moon. What would happen if I could book some of the local bands or Rennie bands willing to travel to play my shop on an odd evening here or there? I give them a venue to play and be heard to a target audience and sell some music, and that audience provides me with a chance to sell them on something else in the store. Likewise, maybe I can get some book signings from authors, or custom artwork signings? It’s a win-win.
The point is, there’s a lot of cross-pollination, and the only thing missing is a sense of community. How do you build that? The same way comic book shops do: if you build it, they will come. Perhaps encouraging people to fly the geek flag is the way to do it. 10% off all purchases if you wear appropriate costume?
The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced it could work. I don’t have the first clue to how to go about that, but as I was reminded yesterday, one of my fortes is obsessive research.