Welcome to my introductory blog concerning being successful in the cart and kiosk business in malls.
I started selling sunglasses outdoors in 1996. I was succeeding at this and doing well but the sunglass business had a season to it. We would start in April and end around the end of August. After a few years of doing this I wanted to find something that would “fill in” the rest of the year as I wanted to continue making money throughout the year.
In 1999 a fellow sunglass friend showed me information he received about selling the “bungee ball” at carts in malls. This seemed interesting to me and a possible way to fill the winter void. We went and got trained and started selling bungee balls at the Mission Viejo Mall in Mission Viejo, CA right before Thanksgiving of that year.
Needless to say, as this was a new adventure for me or my friend we were nervous about breaking into the cart and kiosk business. No one wants to start something new and be unsuccessful. But we had done a lot of homework regarding the bungee ball itself and saw that the product had sold well in many malls. We also researched thoroughly a lot of malls in the Southern California area and we saw that the Mission Viejo Mall had a lot of potential even though it had just gone through a major renovation.
I sat down and asked myself before we started what was the worst that could happen? The answer to that question is that I could spend 6 weeks of my time to try something new and break even. I decided it was worth the risk.
So we were off to the races! We learned an awful lot that year about the cart business. We learned about hiring people, how to get insurance for what we were doing, how to deal with vendors trying to knock off and sell the same product you were selling, etc. When we wrapped things up December 31 my partner and I had both put about $12,000-$13,000 in each of our pockets.
This is what I would consider were the most important things I learned that first season that set the stage for being successful in the cart and kiosk.
- Research and find a product that seems interesting to you and make sure that it is a good product with decent quality. Do not try and sell a product that is not good quality as even though you may make some money with it this will cause you a lot of problems and you won’t be welcome back to that mall again afterwards either by customers or the mall management itself.
- When you find a product research how it has sold in many malls around the country and reassure yourself that the product itself has good potential. Find out about the type of malls the product did not do well in so that you don’t end up taking that same kind of mall in your own area.
- If this is the first time you have sold at a cart or kiosk in a mall it is imperative that you get involved with the business yourself and dive in and get your hands dirty. Selling at a mall cart is not something that you want to hire someone else to do for you and then hope for the best. You need to understand how this business works first yourself before you can do multiple carts selling the same item.
- Ensure that you research the malls in the area where you are and that you know what the customer is for your product so that you can decide if the mall you are going into has that type of customer there. Things I will take a look at in deciding on a mall is the sales per square foot in that mall (this figure will vary from mall to mall and its importance will depend on what item you are selling), what the household income is around the mall and also the number of visitors per year coming to the mall. I will also go to the mall on busy weekend days and count the traffic that goes by the various locations being proposed to me by the mall to see which locations are the busiest. How much the mall will charge you for rent is important and just because a mall has low rent for the holiday season does not make it a good mall. Conversely, just because a mall has high rent during the holiday does not make it a bad mall. But you should research enough malls in a given area to ensure that you aren’t being ripped off by a mall that you want to go into.
- If you are going into a mall for the first time or are selling a product for the first time treat this as a learning experience and do not put pressure on yourself to make a gazillion dollars the first time out. If you go out there and try your best and don’t get down about things that can occur more than likely you will meet with some success. Having said that the cart and kiosk business is not for the faint of heart. This is your own business and you need to treat it like a business, i.e. showing up on time, working hard, etc. The rewards are great but the work is hard- often much harder than being an employee but on the other hand the rewards are much greater.
Stay tuned for the next installment of this blog on cart and kiosk success.