Author of " Every Way of Earning a Living" " Our Sons and Daughters," etc.
The special function of the trade paper is to distribute among retailers particulars of the goods being offered for sale by the wholesalers, and so the merest novice may, from a perusal of the leading trade paper in her particular line, immediately gather the names of a dozen houses or more that supply the goods she requires. All she has to do then is to drop a postcard to those firms asking for representatives to call upon her, or, if she prefers it, call on the firms herself. In either case, she will gather a great deal of information about buying and selling the goods she is to handle from her talk with the various wholesalers or their representatives, both of whom will be only too willing to give her any information that will help her to make her business a success, for by that means they are helping themselves to increasing business. I have selected the trade paper here for special mention because in the china and glass trades a business-like young person, with, say, a capital of £200 and a pleasant personality, may quite well embark on a successful career with no more knowledge of the business than that gathered from sources which began with the trade paper.
Many people, of course, make crockery a side line to some other business, and in small towns or villages where there are not many marketing facilities that is a good plan to adopt. In this case only from £60 to £100 would be required to purchase ample stock
But in a busy place-town or suburb-a good business is to be done in the crockery alone. "The Pottery Gazette" is the trade paper, and from its columns may be gathered all information as to wholesale markets, although, of course, one possessing actual experience is naturally better off.
A capital of £200 would be quite sufficient to start a fair business.
For the middle-class trade the custom of placing "bargains" in baskets outside the shop on the pavement has everything to recommend it. Not only will people always buy kitchen stuff so exhibited, but if in the windows behind the baskets there be tasteful displays of better-class goods further purchases may result, and the young shopkeeper, anxiously watching from within, will reap her reward for good window display in selling, perhaps, a five-shilling article to a buyer whose original intention had been to buy a penny kitchen cup from the bargain baskets.
Women starting in London in this line should call on the manufacturers' agents, whose showrooms are near Holborn Circus, and a visit to some works in the Potteries, which can be arranged through a manufacturer's agent, helps in getting practical information, out of which the saleswoman can make very interesting and persuasive talks to customers in her own shop. Thirty-three and a third per cent, should be added to all cost prices, and a little more to invoiced prices of better-class stuff.
A good position should be secured, and a well-lighted and well-arranged shop is necessary. With these things a paying business may be built up in a trade that "goes on for ever," and will continue to do so while cups, saucers, plates, and dishes are breakable.
I remember not long ago being invited by a lady-she was a widow left with a few hundred pounds-to pay a visit to a shop which she had opened as a clothier and outfitter, with a special note in local schoolboys' attire. The shop was on the main road running from London through a thickly populated suburb. When I add that it was next door to a men's club, and that there were four large schools within easy distance, my readers will see that she had secured a very good position.
I noticed these facts as I approached the shop from the railway station, and was already inwardly congratulating my lady friend upon her selection, when I found myself standing before the shop windows themselves, temporarily stupefied with amazement.
I had never seen a good position so utterly spoiled, for the whole of the windows on both sides of the doors were covered with cheap socks and stockings, hanging in rows flat against the glass. The whole of the windows, mark you ! No tickets, no prices, not even space, nothing at all but socks and stockings. Being freshly unpacked, never having been worn, they appeared for all the world like slices cut straight out of black legs and feet. The effect was ludicrous in the extreme, and the lights which, during the evenings, shone upon the unmarked array of hosiery from two enormous and unnecessarily expensive lamps were entirely wasted.
When I had recovered from my surprise I entered the shop, suppressing my smiles out of regard for the feelings of my misguided shopkeeper.
I don't suppose that any of my readers would dream of doing anything quite so absurd as this, but I cannot too strongly impress upon those intending to open clothiers' and outfitters' establishments the necessity of making an intelligent as well as attractive display of their goods from the start. My friend referred to above had probably £200 worth of stock inside the shop, yet no one passing would have dreamed that she had a shillingsworth of anything besides those socks and stockings, which seemed to say to the public:
"Please, we're all the good lady's got, and we must do our best to hide the poverty and nakedness of the windows ! "