As some of you know, I've been brainstorming to determine what my Next Big Thing should be. This will probably, but not necessarily, be a startup business.
I've got a notebook that I keep with me 24/7 and when I think of something promising ("just feed the tuna fish mayonaise"*) I write it down. I've gotten quite a few wacky ideas, but nothing really promising yet.
However, I recently came up with a pretty interesting idea that I think could actually work. But it's just not an idea that I would like to do. You know how you're supposed to have that passion for your business? Well, this idea gives me no passion. But it might work for someone else, so I'm sharing it.
Here it is: (please forgive the long-windedness as I describe how I got to the idea)
You know those Build-a-Bear stores in the mall, where you go in and pick the bear body, pick the stuffing, pick add-ons like collars and nametags, pick a name, and then they put the damn thing together for you? And pay an average of $32 for the privilege? This company makes a cool $318.1 million in revenue** for providing the materials for customers to come in and basically make their own stuffed animals.
There's also Papa Murphy's Pizza, which follows the same general idea, but they provide all the fresh ingredients for you to create your own pizza, which you then take home and "finish" (by baking). Hey, I just made my family a home-made pizza. Yeah, sure you did. But I'll bet you felt better bringing that home than a cold-by-the-time-it-hits-the-dinner-table Pizza Hut pizza!
Part of the attraction of these two businesses is that, when you go there, you are "doing it yourself" - it's "homemade", so it must be better, right? You can also personalize the products, so you walk away with the exact thing you are looking for, and don't have to settle for whatever was in stock.
Then there is the trend towards Old Fashioned Hobbies. I've noticed this trend over the past few years. I've never known so many women who sew and knit! ***
So how about a store where you could go to make your own, custom-made, high-quality kids' clothes? There would be some pre-made parts (think Build-a-Bear here), like sleeves, collars and bodices. And you could combine colors, fabrics, etc. to make your own creation. Want a blue dress with a lace collar, gold trim and puffy sleeves? Done. How about a green shirt with long sleeves, cute buttons and a satin collar? Done.
This would be different than going to a fabric store, just like buying a Papa Murphy's Pizza is different than making a pizza from scratch - the product is already "half-made" rather than requiring "totally from scratch" work (and time).
I think this idea would work best for baby/toddler/kindergartener clothes, just to limit the sizes that you'd have to carry in inventory.
Stealing from the Bear stores and the Social Suppers-type stores, you could hold parties with friends to make clothes for your kids.
I'll bet you could charge $30-40 for a custom-made dress that the customer "made themselves". This wouldn't be a discount play, this would be a customized product play, and I think folks would dig it.
Disclaimer: I have totally not checked to see if anyone is doing this business already. Not that this would stop someone else from doing...I'm just sayin'...
So, there you go. Someone go do this idea and make a bunch of money. Then buy me lunch. I love lunch. :-)
* quote totally stolen from the movie, Night Shift, 1982
** I'd totally be happy with the .1 by itself!
*** This trend totally missed me...I'm lucky to get a button back on when they fall off!