Okay, so for some reason you have an urge to open your own store. Before you invest one dollar in products or designing a logo or even coming up with a name, there are many, many things you are going to need to do.
First, figure out why you want to open the store.
If you want to open a store because the Holy Spirit gave you the inspiration, that's admirable but you have to remember two things:
- The Holy Spirit is not a business man and isn't going to infuse you with the knowledge to run a successful business.
- The Holy Spirit is not going to bail you out when your failure to apply sound business principles to your business leads to its demise.
If you want to run a store because you think it will make you rich, you're in the wrong business. While it is possible to make a living and possibly a very nice living at a Catholic store, if this is just a way to get rich, your business is going to whither and die because you aren't in it for the right reasons and people can tell.
If you want to open a store to fight your bishop or your priest, go find a less expensive way to do it. Opening a store to start a fight isn't Christian and will only lead to problems.
If you want to open a store to spread the Faith and educate Catholics, you've go the right reason but you still have to remember that you are running a business. You also have to remember that spreading the Faith means spreading THE Faith and not the various flavors you find passing themselves off as the Faith these days. If you are afraid to present the Faith, don't open a store.
So now that you have figured out what your reasons are for opening the store and that they are valid, it's time for step two.
It's time to get out your pencil and paper and do some research. Here are some things you are going to need to figure out:
- How many parishes are in your town? If you are in a major city, I would think about how many are within 10 miles of where you want to open.
- How many Catholics are in your town?
- How many other stores supply Catholic products in your town? Remember, the other stores may not all be Catholic.
- Where are the parishes in your town? I recommend getting a map of the city and marking their locations so you can see where they are. You will probably want to consider positioning your store between two or three of them.
- What is the climate of the Faith in your town? If the general attitude is like Los Angeles, you are going to have to acknowledge that you aren't going to get support from the parishes or the bishop and local Catholics will likely badmouth your business. If the Faith is growing and people are enthusiastic about it, you will have a much easier time getting established.
Here are the answers that we came up with when answering these questions.
- There are 34 parishes in our diocese, 11 of which are in Colorado Springs and within the distance we considered acceptable to consider.
- There are 125,000 Catholics in our diocese but our diocese is a sprawling place that stretches north to Denver and over the mountains to the west.
- When we opened, there were three other Catholic stores in town and several Family Christian bookstores and the massive Focus on the Family bookstore. Family Christian stores carry a very small selection of Catholic products. Two of the Catholic stores were located in malls and focused on gifts and the oldest store is downtown with a variety of books and gifts. The stores were all under 2000 square feet of retail space and none of them promoted themselves as specializing in carrying products faithful to the Faith.
- We situated our store on the main road running through Colorado Springs within three miles of the largest parish in the city and within five miles of two other parishes.
- Colorado Springs is undergoing a rebirth of interest in the Faith thanks to our new bishop and a generation of Catholics who are young, faithful and enthusiastic about being Catholic.
Based on our answer, we concluded that Colorado Springs could support another Catholic store if we did a couple of things.
- Focus on orthodox Catholic books and educational material and let people know that's what our focus was.
- Locate in an area away from the other stores but near some of the larger parishes.
Next - What to do once you have decided that opening a store makes sense.