Business marketability research in a specific area

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Forum topic by Chris Wright posted 01-07-2011 01:58 AM 1493 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chris Wright

540 posts in 3480 days

01-07-2011 01:58 AM

So, it’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything in a while, so I feel I should let you all in on some news. It looks as though the Army will not be keeping the Arts & Crafts Center here open much longer. For those of you that don’t know, I run the wood shop at an Army Arts & Crafts Center attached to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Silver Spring, MD. I’ve been toying around with the idea of opening a public access woodworking shop/studio near where I live and I’ve been trying to think of how I can get some market research data that would pertain to this endeavor. Does anyone have any idea, aside from hiring a market research firm, I might be able to find this info. Thanks for your help.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

7 replies so far

View GPM's profile


26 posts in 2829 days

#1 posted 01-09-2011 10:59 PM

I may be able to help you a bit with this. I would need more information though. Could you describe a bit more what you envision for the shop/studio? Location (in general), size, equipment, membership cost, hours, how you would deal with consumables, storage space for members, etc. It doesn’t have to be a detailed business plan but enough to understand what it would look like.

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Chris Wright

540 posts in 3480 days

#2 posted 01-10-2011 04:48 AM

Well, right now I’m in Baltimore and I was thinking along the lines of what I have at the shop I work at now. About 20 by 40 or so, 2 table saws (Maybe), Band saw, a few full size lathes, a few mini/midi lathes, planer, joiner, and all the assorted hand held tools needed. Five or six work benches. As for project storage, that can be a room with a series of spaces divided that patrons could rent. I haven’t figured out membership fees yet, Not sure if I just want to do a per hour charge or a monthly/yearly fee with unlimited access. Consumables can be sold in a small storefront type area. Not sure if I want to provide much lumber for sale or just have members bring there own in. Hours, maybe 6 days a week, late morning to evening, that way I can get people after work who want to work in the shop. I was planning on offering classes for all levels as well as have open shop time.

That’s all I can think of right now, let me know if you want more info.


-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

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jim C

1472 posts in 3097 days

#3 posted 01-10-2011 06:28 AM

Not to discourage you by any means, as I owned a machine shop for years. The people I hired were either highly skilled Tool & Die makers or unskilled production workers who had to take safety courses and specific job training, prior to letting them do any operations. Difference between what I did, and what your proposing is they were all bonified employees, covered by liability insurance and workmen’s comp.
You’re going to have strangers walking in, many having no skill sets, no ideas of speeds and feeds, the dangers of operating lethal machinery, and just maybe they stopped at the bar on the way over, etc., etc.
I’m not trying to discourage you, but I would talk this over with attorneys, and professionals who can layout the pitfalls of turning over machinery to people who would sue at the drop of a hat for their carelessness.
I would be deeply concerned of this litigious mentality we see with the public today.
I’m thinking of a scenario where you have Power-matic table saws, and a guy cuts off his finger. You’re in court because you didn’t equip the place with the Saw Stop table saw.
You can make people sign all the “not responsible” “hold harmless” papers in the world, but a half-ass attorney can still take you to the cleaners.
Be VERY careful.

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3245 days

#4 posted 01-10-2011 07:05 AM

You might see if these guys can you give you any info. They’re a non profit club, but the same idea that you’re interested in doing. I don’t have any personal experience with them, just know that they are around. Best of luck and let us know how it’s going.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3675 days

#5 posted 01-10-2011 09:27 AM

I doubt if yio ucan afford teh liability insurance. I would sugget trying it through a nonprofit community help or rehab organizatoin.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View GPM's profile


26 posts in 2829 days

#6 posted 01-12-2011 03:08 AM

I really like the idea. I was without a shop for several years during one stretch and it was miserable.

I also really like the non profit that was posted in this thread. Going that direction could give you more protection but I am not entirely certain. At their site they mention skiers and that for sure is a good parallel. You can be sure they have passed a basic safety course but once they are on their own it is up to them to use common sense or not. I imagine that non profit would be happy to refer you to their attorney or even share the attorney’s opinion with you. Woodworkers are usually good people and most non profits will share with others what they have learned.

Even if you are doing it to make money it could be set up as a non profit. Non profit directors get paid salaries and can expense lots of things. There are only a few minor differences in how finances and assets work. (I have created and run non profits for over twenty years)

So if you really want to do it and have some cash to get started it seems like it could be a good idea. Especially if you can offer classes. Having a “school” is the best way to get shop customers/members. And there are tons of inexpensive ways to market the shop.

If you would like step by step assistance / guidance let me know and we can talk about it.

Good luck

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2849 days

#7 posted 01-12-2011 07:33 AM

Don’t let these dire predictions that you can’t afford the liability insurance discourage you. This is data you need to find for yourself.

As for market research, is there a college or university nearby? Your real world question might be music to a professor’s ears.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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