1. Power up your passion. Tackling a niche is tough, says Bill Pearlman: “The fact that I love it is a big part of my business. I carry what I like, and no one in our community carries this kind of collection.”
2. Know your stuff. The narrower your niche, the higher the expectations about your depth of knowledge. “It’s not just deep product and industry knowledge,” says Doug Fleener, “but making sure you truly understand your target customer.”
3. Build relationships. In-store events offer opportunities to connect with customers in a laid-back environment. But don’t stop there. “This year I created a recipe booklet, and customers have brought me gifts of food or wine,” says Eve Alfille. “In a sense, you become friends.”
4. Test, test, test. Kim Gordon says one of the biggest mistakes small businesses commit is that they “jump in with both feet.” Research is key, so consider starting small to test the niche before going full-throttle.
5. Don’t look generic. Jim Tuttle’s custom shop boasts handcrafted cases, hand-forged blacksmith metalwork, and bench jewelers visible behind glass. “Your customers must trust your artistic vision, and your store must communicate that.”