Episode 110 - Running a Brick and Mortar Shop with Arlene Rust

Season #4

Arlene Rust shares her journey from paper florist to running a brick and mortar shop, plus the benefits and challenges of owning a physical store.


Have you ever dreamed of owning a brick and mortar shop?


We’ve heard many paper florists express interest in opening up a physical store, but fear of the unknown holds them back. It’s a big leap! Luckily, in our latest episode of Paper Talk we chatted with Arlene Rest of Arlo Arts in the UK. Arlene made the jump from working in the corporate world, to becoming a paper florist, and eventually to owning a brick and mortar store. She shared why a physical store has so many benefits for increasing sales and building community, but she also told us about the many challenges that come along with shop ownership.

 Arlo Arts has built up a big fan base and a great reputation. How did Arlene do it? There are too many helpful details from the episode to share here, but here’s a quick look at three things Arlene suggests paper florists should think about before taking the plunge into opening up a physical location.


Be Prepared to Diversify

If you have interest in opening up a shop, it’s probably because you love paper flowers and want to share that with your community, whether through workshops or offering supplies or selling made flowers. The reality, however, is that you most likely can’t keep a store running on that alone.

 The good news is that our artform overlaps and runs alongside many other crafts. As Arlene said, “Generally try and make sure you’ve got enough interest in the store, so it’s maybe not just paper flowers, maybe you’ve got complementary things in there.” 

Listen to the podcast to hear how Arlene has diversified her store and how she chooses which items will sell instead of just buying things she likes.


Here’s what you’ll learn when you listen to our conversation:
► Arlene’s journey from paper florist to brick and mortar business owner.
► The positives of owning a physical store.
► What it takes to run a brick and mortar shop.
► The biggest challenge Arlene faces running Arlo Arts.
► How she runs workshops and rents out her space.


Understand the Upfront Costs

Many paper florists are already running online businesses. You might have encountered some surprise costs along the way. With a brick and mortar store, there are even more costs, and you have to pay many of them upfront. That means that you need capital and you need a solid plan to start making money as soon as possible.

The first step is to fully understand what you will have to pay for upfront. Arlene shared so much in the episode that will get you started, and there are many other resources out there for people opening up physical small businesses. Do your homework. Get your finances in order. Know what you’re getting into.


Have Enough Time

Running a physical store is not a side gig. Arlene is the only worker at Arlo Arts, and she has to do it all. As she shared on the podcast, her life circumstances are such that she can dedicate herself full-time to running her shop.


“One of the things great about brick and mortar premises, people can come in, they can see the flowers, they can discuss custom orders, and it’s almost like you get a bit of added credibility by having a shop. But also people are inspired by what they see. So they see things and go, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize you could do that.’ I think I get a lot more orders because of that.”


Take a look at your life. Be honest with yourself. Do you really have the bandwidth to get a store up and running? Even if you hire someone to help, the buck still stops with you. And like Arlene said, the time she spends on running her shop isn’t just during the store’s open hours. Be ready to pour lots of time and effort into a new business. 

 You can hear what Arlene’s typical day at Arlo Arts is like by listening to the episode. You’ll get a good idea of what her time commitments look like.


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