Kidz on Main learn lessons in retail
August 27, 2010
Park City High School senior Anthony Espinoza needed a summer job but couldn’t find one. Local employers told him they received a hundred applications for every opening. So he created a job for himself.
Luckily, Espinoza had a mom with good connections. Julianne Rosen-Carone is one of the owners of the Rocky Mountain Christmas shop at 355 Main Street.
Early in her career she had opened an unsuccessful toy store. Even though she found her niche with holiday gifts, her store has always carried some toys. Because there are not many sold on Main Street, she figured that would be a good place to start.
Her landlord owns the 333 Main Street Mall that is almost empty as the company prepares for major renovations. She negotiated a three-month lease to open a "pop-up" store in the mall right next to her own shop.
The store, Kidz on Main, closed last Sunday, but Rosen-Carone said it was a success. It only broke even, but the store employed her son and some friends for the summer and that was the goal.
"It was already within our realm. We already had vendors and a lot of merchandise," she said. "Now with school starting back up, he’s closing it down."
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Espinoza said he’s eyeing a career in the medical field. Running a retail store all by himself was a great experience, but didn’t convert him to the industry. Working with customers one-on-one all summer was invaluable, he said.
"I’d helped my mom a little bit, but never really worked in retail," he said. "The biggest thing was learning to be patient with people."
Espinoza said he knew his mom asked if she could help people, and rang up their purchases, but had no idea what the day-to-day operations of a store were really like. He said he got a good idea of how unique people were and how they reacted differently to the same questions.
"I learned to talk to people better, and to sell product," he said.
Rosen-Carone said the whole experience was a lot of fun because the store became a bit of a hang-out for kids who were out of school and whose parents also worked on Main Street.
Predictably, the best-sellers were items not found elsewhere in the neighborhood like Webkinz and kid-oriented souvenirs.
She tried to offer products she calls, "condo toys." Families come to Park City and find their children need something to do during "down time." She offered items for playing in hotel pools, or throwing a discus at a park. Sometimes parents find their children have exhausted the entertainment they brought for the car trip and need more for the drive home.
Items that are fun to play with here but still small enough to pack home usually sell well, she said.
Rosen-Carone said she’d be open to dong another pop-up business, and has always thought a Halloween store would do well in Park City.
The problem, she said, is it takes work to establish relationships with vendors. For example, she sells Halloween decorations from Rocky Mountain Christmas in October but has never been able to find someone to supply her with costumes.
The biggest piece of advice she’d offer to others considering a pop-up business is guaranteeing you can cover the overhead.
Even though rent for a temporary space is less than it is for year-round, making enough sales with limited product in a small space to cover start-up costs can be a challenge, she said.
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