Starting a rock shop is a natural business progression for the serious rock hound whose interest has reached beyond a hobbyist level. As a small business that takes a lot of expertise and knowledge to run, but also tends to flourish in a tourist area or town built around geologic natural recreational draws, owning a rock shop can turn into a successful business for the collector enthusiast who follows a few important steps after gathering capital and registering the new rock shop business name.
Designate your storefront location and structure once all funding needs are met and the venture is green-lighted. Make sure the structure has enough space for both display of inventory and its storage as well as enough outside area for both parking and the larger rock specimens that the rock shop inventory might include, especially if specializing in a landscaping department. Draft a 2 year business plan specific to the intended business and local market, decide on intended operating hours, necessary employees and whether the store will be open year round or seasonally and make sure to get full approval for and purchase any necessary business permits required.
Research and purchase equipment, both business related and rock collecting related, that is needed depending on what the rock shop's specialty is. Purchase lapidary equipment for any stone and mineral jewelry making needs. Buy a rock tumbler and assorted mining/sorting equipment if intending to hunt for and collect rock and mineral specimen for the rock shop or if a self mining gem property or attraction is part of the business where folks come to dig for precious stones for a fee.
Establish a vendor list that will be used for purchasing business supplies, advertising and inventory from. Check local laws if intending to personally hunt for and collect rock and mineral specimens to ensure that collection is legal in the local area as well as to verify what is legal to collect and then sell. The rock shop's local county conservation board will have the information necessary pertaining to personal collection for inventory.
Vary the rock shop's inventory and stock as much as possible. Keep 65 to 70 percent committed to the local tourist traffic indigenous product (such as the geode trade along the Mississippi shore or diamond or amethyst mining in Arkansas) and the specific needs of the local collector and enthusiast community (who will be repeat and constant business). Aim to offer 30 to 35 percent of non indigenous items within the rock shop's inventory for catering to the general purchaser, online customers (if applicable) and limit expansion of possible inventory.
Take into account if the local market will sustain a year round business with simply store front traffic purchases. Tourism hot spots such as Estes Park, CO or Yellowstone, WY have location driven traffic. If the location does not have a specific natural geologic draw enabling it such as gemstone mines or national park proximity, set up an online storefront to expand the rock shop's local market area into cyberspace and offer informational blog tutorials designed to expose and sell your product to rock collectors of all locations.
Consider combining the rock shop storefront with another business entity since it is such a specialized offering. Customers, especially local enthusiasts and collectors, will come in and spend time looking for both rock and gem product as well as information about that product. So an added coffee shop/bakery or specialized gift store would be a successful addition as would jointly running a mining or national park tour guide service office. This brings in the customers who would not have come specifically for purchases from the rock shop's inventory but who will now make that purchase when something catches their buying eye over a cup of hot coffee.
- rock collection image by Andrew Kazmierski from Fotolia.com