BellaDonna Saberhagen here.
I've wanted to be a Witch since I was a little girl (I used to copy down spells from movies, such as "Tragoona Mekoidies Trecorum Satis Di!"). It's a dream that came true once I found out you actually COULD be a Witch.
The second dream came from my first trip to Salem, I went into a real Witch shop (I actually found out about Wicca at the store, getting a copy of Cunningham's Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner...my mother actually bought it for me thinking it was some book on the history of Witchcraft...I think she rues the day now). Since then, I've wanted to have my own store and once I learned they could exist outside of Salem, so much the better (I love visiting Salem, but I doubt I would enjoy living there due to the tourism).
There's a pretty good shop in the area (I say pretty good because they have too narrow a focus and are a little bit fluffy...most of the books they carry are by Silver Ravenwolf but I guess that's understandable because its run by a Black Forest Clan Coven); however, the owner lives an hour away and does not feel like running it anymore. She tried giving managerial duties to someone else, but they nearly ran it into the ground in less than a year. So the store is up for sale, after twelve years in business. It's cheaper than other Pagan shops I've seen for sale (when Divine Light was on the market, the guy wanted $300,000 for a dilapidated building with no parking and merchandise I knew had been on the shelves for at least over a year), but it's still a pretty hefty purchase: $159,000 and then I would need to borrow more than that to stock the shelves again (they've been selling items without getting more inventory for awhile now so it's getting pretty empty). Aside from it having too narrow a scope, there were other issues with how the store was run: they didn't have a web-site to purchase items through, which could have bolstered the over-all income; they didn't hire employees, just expected coven members to volunteer their time running the store (meaning it was often closed when it should have been open), and they had stupid hours: Tues-Sat 12-6 meaning that if you actually worked, you'd be unlikely to be able to make it to the store before it closed so you could purchase anything unless you tried on a Sat....if they were open).
I've had a sound plan for running a store for several years: you can't just be a Witch store. Especially in a more rural community, you have to cater to many different paths so that if your local Buddhist (for example) can't get down to the Buddhist Center in the city, he can get some supplies through you. You also have to be willing on catering things you don't like (I'm not the biggest fan of the Christian religion, but I would certainly carry things for Gnostic Christians as they aren't likely to get things for their path at the local Christian Store). I would also incorporate "green living" supplies so that I could get revenue even fro people who have no spiritual persuasion but wish to help the planet (the closest shop for most green living supplies is about a half-hour drive).
One of the things that made the store great was that it was the local coven-stead (I'm not Wiccan and if I were I still probably wouldn't join a BFC coven, but they still need a place to meet) and held open circles for the community. The last one there will be Yule this Thursday. I would continue that, and the work-shops they used to have (though hopefully with more than just Silver, who was their go-to "expert" for obvious reasons).
But the first thing is figuring out how to secure a loan, having no collateral (I rent, my car is a 13 year old near POS). My friend in Alaska thinks I may be able to incorporate the store and get a corporate loan using the store itself as collateral, but with the current loaning market, I'm not sure even that would work.
It feels like the dream is so close to reality that my fingers are just about to touch it...and keep missing...which is somehow worse than having it be so far away and nearly unattainable.
May you be blessed by whichever gods you fancy,