This time I will talk about our store.

We do not have a physical store and only sell online.
It's not that I don't aspire to run a brick-and-mortar store with a focus on interior design and display, but opening a brick-and-mortar store requires a large amount of capital, and it would be difficult to run one in the rural area of ​​Fukuoka Prefecture where I currently live.
We are a small family-run shop, so we chose to run an online store so we could offer our products at the most affordable prices possible without incurring unnecessary costs.

I had originally worked as a company employee for many years, and while I was there I also worked as a systems engineer, so I had no qualms about dealing with online systems.
Also, since I had no experience working in customer service, selling products face-to-face, I felt that opening a physical store would be a high hurdle.

However, since online shops do not allow customers to see and touch the products directly, we sometimes feel frustrated that we cannot convey the quality of the products.
We also often receive requests from customers to be able to see the products in person while shopping.
When dealing in antiques, we feel it is important for customers to feel close to not only the products but also us, the people who run the store.

Fukuoka "Kuyama Flea Market"

(March 2024, Hisayama Flea Market)

Opening a permanent brick-and-mortar store is quite a high hurdle, but one option would be to set up a stall at antique markets or department store events.

The other day, a small flea market was being held at a shopping mall about 30 minutes by car from my house, so I decided to go and check it out for future reference.
This event has only just started recently, so although it is small in scale, the barrier to participation is low and it seems easy to join.
When we asked the organizers, we found out that the event is run by a company that rents out old London buses for events, which seems like a good fit for our store, which deals in British antiques.

However, while there are stores selling antiques, many also sell handmade goods that the whole family can enjoy, so it may seem out of place to simply display the products you currently carry.
At antique markets held outdoors, you should be careful about bringing expensive or delicate items such as antique watches.
The fee to set up a stall is cheap, but you only need to rent a plot of land; you will need to prepare your own tents and display fixtures.
Also, it would be difficult to transport not only tents and fixtures but also merchandise to the site using the car we currently have.

If it's an event at a department store, there won't be a need for tents or anything like that, and it seems like they could just sell the products they currently have on hand.
In Fukuoka, the Hakata Hankyu department store holds the British Fair every year, where other antique shops set up stalls.
However, if you want to set up a stall at a department store event, the screening process will be strict, and you will have to pay a stall fee of about 20-30% of your sales.

Since the number of antique markets and department store events in Kyushu is limited, we considered participating in events further away, such as in Tokyo or Osaka, but when we considered the costs of transporting the goods, our own travel, and accommodation for preparation, it seemed like we would have to run the stall at a loss.

Recently, we have started to see more and more stores where the owners do live broadcasts on YouTube and Instagram.
It may also be possible to use a video conferencing system such as ZOOM to talk while looking at each other's faces and products.
Instead of jumping straight into setting up a stall at an antique market or department store event, it might be a good idea to try something like that first.

Although it may be little by little, we are currently exploring ways to make our products and us feel closer to you than we do now.
There are still many challenges ahead, but I'm excited because I'm trying something new for the first time in a while.