“Wouldn’t it be amazing to have your very own horror store?” It was the summer of 2011, just shortly after Tony and I started dating, when I turned to him with that question. Tony’s response pretty much sealed the deal (both professionally and romantically) with his emphatic “Yes, that has always been a dream of mine!”
It would be so much fun. Watching slasher flicks all day, playing with cute little horror toys, and talking to customers who share in our love of gore. I mean, how is that even work, right?
We both had our own careers on the go, so we knew it would be a slow process to get the project off the ground, and of course, life interfered as it tends to do. It wasn’t until a year later that we finally decided on our business name. Grim Details; that was the winner, and we hastily set out to register that business name and purchase our domain name before it was lost to us.
At first, our plan was to have a brick and mortar store, but we soon came to agree that starting out online was the better idea. As customers ourselves of all things macabre and horrific, we found it very difficult to find the type of merchandise we were searching for in Canada, unless you live in a Metropolis. If we were lucky enough to find a place that would ship to Canada, the shipping fees were too high for us. So if we were experiencing this problem, then surely our fellow lovers of the dark and gory must have been as well. So online it was.
And so began the long and fastidious process of building a business from the ground up. Neither Tony nor I had studied business or marketing, but Tony was a graphic designer and I was well versed in communications and grew up in a family business. We could, and would do this! Tony went back to school at Sheridan College to learn web design, and I took a continuing education Business course at McMaster University.
We made a list of all the things we needed to do in order to get our business off the ground, and set out on our way. A few general examples of what was needed at my end are:
- Become acquainted with HS codes for customs, import permits, free trade agreements, taxation, duty and brokerage
- Find and secure distributors
- Gain familiarity with blogging, Twitter, and Facebook for business
- Learn QuickBooks and Inventory software
- Continuous market research
It was going to be as simple as ticking off the items on our list, right? Wrong! It was never that easy, and for every one task, we soon found out there were several subtasks we didn’t know about. There were seemingly innumerable challenges to meet along the way.
Tony had his own set of obstacles. While his Post Graduate Web Design program had given him an amazing foundation to start building websites, he still had to learn enough e-commerce, P, and PHP to build our website. None of those topics had been covered in his program due to time constraints within the curriculum. As you can well imagine, the experience led to some interesting utterances coming from the office Tony’s desire to annihilate the computer in the most in a way that would lead to an NC-17 rating!
5 years later, here we are, launching our horror store. Admittedly, there have been several occasions where we wanted to pull our hair out and throw ourselves on the floor kicking and screaming, but it has been an amazing learning experience.
We can’t wait to share our love of the horrifying and macabre with like-minded people.