How small can a small shop be?

Andre Costa
@andre-costa
06/16/09 02:45:46PM
103 posts
I looked into a small store in New York City that is a little over 250 sq. feet and it does not have a kitchen - I would need to create one.I know this specific place is not for me, but I was wondering how small your small shop is? Is there anyone here who has a retail store but with a separate commercial kitchen in another location?Thanks,Andre CostaChocolatier-to-be
updated by @andre-costa: 04/11/15 01:56:29AM
Diana
@diana
06/17/09 03:34:05AM
12 posts
Hi Andre,After 2 years of working from home with the kids around my ankles and a hundred other distractions, I have decided to do just that! We (myself and my husband) have bought a small unit on an industrial estate and will be fitting it out as our chocolate production facility. We are coupling this with a small shop in a recently refurbished retail outlet. The main advantages are that, in the UK, retail space costs a lot more than industrial space, and is generally charged per square foot, so this way, we get plenty of production and storage space, with just enough retail space to sell the chocolates and some ancillary beverages. Our final choice of shop is 350 sq ft, but we had looked at one which was 250 which would have been perfect and much cheaper! Someone beat us to it though! This dual-location set up also allows the opening of a second or third shop without the need to kit out 3 separate kitchens. I'll keep you up to date on what is going to be an exciting (but probably stressful) journey!Diana
Andre Costa
@andre-costa
06/17/09 09:12:44AM
103 posts
Hi Diana.That's amazing! I've never thought about branching out and having one kitchen to supply the stores. That's very forward-thinking.Thank you for your input. I understand the cost issue. Prices in Manhattan are crazy - I may need to look outside the island for a retail space.
wallace Macdonald
@wallace-macdonald
08/27/09 10:41:27PM
1 posts
A few years ago we had a store in a casino in Cairns Australia it was 2 meters x 6 meters it was very small but it was great, But we had a 300square meter in the Industrial area of cairns so the rent was a lot cheaper than the casino and it went very well. My wife and I just go back from Melbourne and a lot of chocolate shops have a very small kitchen on site to finish a few chocolates (put on a show) then they have a larger kitchen off site.RegardsWallace
Diana
@diana
08/28/09 04:40:17AM
12 posts
It's been a very long haul, but we are now nearing completion on our industrial premises. Check out our progress on facebook...http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lick-the-Spoon-UK/97969759316?ref=mf#/pages/Lick-the-Spoon-UK/97969759316?ref=nfI have to say that the stress is starting to get to me! Every day I come across "professionals" who simply can't do their job (not chocolate professionals...more like graphic designers, financial advisers etc). Honestly, it's money for nothing what some of these guys do!Despite having the conversation "is it all worth it, there must be easier ways to make a living" (with myself and my husband) on a regular basis, we're still passionate about it, and determined to make it work!Wish us luck!Diana
Andre Costa
@andre-costa
08/28/09 09:40:13AM
103 posts
Diana, I guess we will always face those barriers (bad professionals, impossible to solve legal issues, government bureaucracy, etc), but that is true for pretty much any industry you are in. At least you are facing these challenges doing something you enjoy/love.I became a fan of your Facebook page. Will now spend some time looking through it.Opening one's first store must be so time consuming, so nerve shattering, but also so wonderful. The sense of accomplishment! I cannot wait - and look at me, just yesterday I got my first tempering machine (a Revolation 1 - ha! so small, but that's what I need now).
Carlos Eichenberger
@carlos-eichenberger
08/28/09 12:29:45PM
158 posts
Andre,I started out working from home in a converted spare room. When demand grew to where I just couldn't fit the equipment/utensils/materials to work comfortably (a friend said to me that I don't work from home, I live in my factory) I leased some space and began the conversion to a production and retail facility. The entire space is 410 sq ft with the retail area being a very tiny 110! Enough for a display counter, credenza, register and other necessities. The kitchen is divided into hot and cold zones for added energy and ventilation efficiency.I will be making my own chocolate and its related products at this facility, which should be complete in the next 2 months. Capacity will be ~100 lbs daily.I also visited a chocolatier in Madrid whose entire kitchen, both hot and cold, was the size of my retail area! Now that was impressive use of space!
Andre Costa
@andre-costa
08/28/09 01:25:20PM
103 posts
Wow!I need to start checking out spaces in New York. It is a very tough city to start any business; but I need to start checking.I hope you complete your space without any bumps on the road. Good luck,Andre
Andy Ciordia
@andy-ciordia
08/28/09 04:11:30PM
157 posts
You might just think about subletting some space from others too.In NYC is chocolate considered low-risk like North Carolina? If so you can use your home for a while if you can get it inspected by the agriculture dept. ($50 here in NC). Then just rent some space from someone else, or start picking up some little table-top cold display cases for $200 and dropping them in stores.Some intermediary thoughts as we're in the similar boats.
John M Rossini
@john-m-rossini
08/28/09 04:57:41PM
2 posts
Andre,If the 250 sq ft space is a good retail location, have you considered having someone else make your chocolate?John.Rossini@travelchocolate.com
Andre Costa
@andre-costa
08/29/09 09:40:08AM
103 posts
John, the retail store will always come after my chocolate-making. If I cannot make the chocolate, then I don't want to have a retail store.If running a retail store was my goal, I could pick something way more profitable than chocolate, right?!
Andrea3
@andrea3
08/29/09 04:04:33PM
22 posts
I was under the impression you were making chocolates, not making chocolate. I can't imagine how a 250 sq. ft. area would be enough to make (bean to bar?) chocolate. I do think for making chocolate confections that 250 would be small but doable.Andrea
Andre Costa
@andre-costa
08/30/09 11:28:03AM
103 posts
I am not a 'bean-to-bar' maker.
Luis Dinos Moro
@luis-dinos-moro
08/30/09 04:35:32PM
15 posts
I think it can be done. I recently saw a shop that was very well done, and I don't think any bigger than 300 square feet.Luis
Clay Gordon
@clay
08/31/09 09:08:45AM
1,680 posts
Andre:There are a couple of things to consider that have not been touched on, yet. IN GENERAL:1) The more different things you do the more space you need. For equipment and for storage and for space to have the equipment out to be used (otherwise you waste lots of valuable time moving stuff around to clear up on from kind of work and get set up for another). You need to think about the number of techniques/styles you want to employ and the space required for each one.2) If you decide to go with a split store/kitchen arrangement either your hours go through the ceiling (because you are in the kitchen when the shop is closed) or the number of employees you need increases (you're in the kitchen and someone else is in the shop). If the shop and the kitchen are in the same physical location then you have to multi-task between production and serving customers.3) It's important to consider how you are going to "store" your pieces while the chocolate is crystallizing. On pans in sheet racks at ambient temperature? In a cooling cabinet?4) Standardize on your packaging. The more different kinds of packaging you have the more space you need to store it.The smaller the physical space you have, the more important it is to be extremely organized and to think through the mechanics of production in terms of the space needed and the steps and movement required.I am a little unconventional in the sense that I emphasize refrigeration as the key element in kitchen design. In particular, as the space gets smaller you need to focus your attention on under-counter (lowboy) units. This way you get your refrigeration needs covered without sacrificing work surface (most lowboy refrigeration units have NSF-approved stainless steel tops). Also, not to be overlooked, is that commercial vertical units can seem oppressively large (and loud) in small spaces making the space seem even smaller than it is.


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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Andre Costa
@andre-costa
08/31/09 10:58:08AM
103 posts
Clay,Thank you for bringing these issues up. These are things I would not think by myself, although they are all very important to keep in mind.
Joshua D. Rector
@joshua-d-rector
09/13/09 07:21:40AM
10 posts
Hi Andre. It sounds like you and I are in a similar position. I think I may be a step or two behind you though. I want to get making chocolate at home. You know on a very small scale, to get a feel for it, and make some money to put towards the shop. I by the way I am from NY as well. Any suggestions? Reply to my post. "Aspiring chocolate seller". So how did you get into chocolate? Good luck Andre!
Joshua D. Rector
@joshua-d-rector
09/13/09 07:24:32AM
10 posts
Good to both you and your husband!
Joshua D. Rector
@joshua-d-rector
09/13/09 07:30:01AM
10 posts
I don't know Andre, I hear chocolate can be very profitable! : )
Andre Costa
@andre-costa
09/15/09 11:37:22AM
103 posts
Hi Joshua.I believe we are exactly in the same spot! I am working from home now, not selling anything yet. Just learning and having my friends trying the chocolates I make.
Melanie Boudar
@melanie-boudar
09/18/09 01:53:31PM
104 posts
I have 2 retail shops and lease a commercial kitchen in another location. Both retail stores are about 300 sf. One location has a small kitchen, about 250 sf but its cramped with packaging storage etc. so I leased space elsewhere. I deliver to one location and ship to the second. I also ship to numerous wholesale accounts. While its nice to think you can wait on customers and save labor while you are making chocolate its really impossible. You cannot be in the middle of making a ganache and have 3 sets of customers come in and all wait on you. Its very disruptive if you are in a busy location. ( Location, location) The plus side was when I did have help there on slow days they could help me. I have undercounter wine coolers for extra storage and garnite or stainless on top. I think its ideal to have a busy retail location and a kitchen in the back that you don't expect yourself to be the one ringing up the sale. But then you also have the problem of paying prime retail $$ for kitchen space.
updated by @melanie-boudar: 09/10/15 01:52:23AM
Andre Costa
@andre-costa
09/18/09 08:05:39PM
103 posts
True!Ideally I would split myself in two and work in the kitchen and work in the front...

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