Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carlos Torres, Owner of All Things Anime, located in Springfield, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are an all-Anime store, meaning that all of our products are Anime based. We have apparel, Pop figures, statues, hats, socks, bags, cups, trading cards, and accessories. Our customers are anyone who enjoys anime or knows someone in their lives that are anime fans.
Tell us about yourself
The idea for the business came about during a conversation my wife, daughter, and I were having while selling Mother's Day baskets back in 2021. My son, daughter, and I are huge anime fans, and my wife said to us wouldn't it be cool if there was a store devoted to anime?! That got my brain going, and I said it would be great. I told her we should be that store.
Around this time, my sister had a friend who opened up a store that had multiple vendors in it, and my wife said why don't we give it a try. I looked around, got a few vendors, got my hands on some products, and started out on a table with three shelves. It was an instant hit. We saw sales pretty much every day, and that's when I began looking to see how I could take it to the next level. I went to malls looking for a space, and after some looking, I found a space at my local mall at a kiosk. We signed the lease in August and started to prepare for a September grand opening. We reached out to people on social media to get feedback, and it was positive.
On September 4th, 2021, All Things Anime opened in the Eastfield Mall. We met so many Anime fans on day one, and people were excited that we were there. Some people thought we were going to be a full storefront, and I was hesitant to do that because I was afraid that it would not do as well. This weighed on my mind for a few months, and in November, a space opened up in the mall. It was perfect because, at the time, I had a product I could not display because I didn't have the space at the kiosk. Even though I had my reservations about opening a full store on November 24th, 2021, we opened a 1059 sq ft store, and it was the best thing I could have done.
Our sales quadrupled, and we had a very successful holiday in 2021. After the holiday, we had people coming from different states who saw our Facebook ad, and they all wished they had a store like ours in their area. Knowing this motivates me to continue to grow and try to get to people who don't know us and help them find where we are so they can get products they love.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment so far is participating in Springfield, MA's first Comic Con this past summer. I was so happy with the support from the people from my town and those who drove out from other cities to show us support. Again, I was afraid to do something on that scale, but it was the best thing I could ever do. We are looking to do a few more of those cons in 2023 and can't wait to return to the one that started it all, Springfield Comic Con.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing, I would say, is trying to have what everyone is looking for. I learned you couldn't please everyone. Also, trying to get new customers and drive traffic when people don't know who you are and are a bit skeptical when you try to get customers to buy online.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't overthink it. If you feel you have a viable idea, I say go for it. There is not enough planning you can do to get your business off the ground. What I mean by that is you will not know everything there is to run your business.
- Don't let other people dictate your business. People may not have your vision and may put their fears on you and make you feel like you can't do it.
- Always stay on top of your business. Make sure you are doing research and staying current with trends for your business.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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