So I'm currently waiting on a studio space to become available in a renovated mill a mile and a half from my apartment (which is in a renovated shoe factory circa 1909). I've been on a waiting list since October. These neat people took over a building in a cruddy part of town and converted it into artists' studios starting on floor five and working their way down to the third floor. From what I understand, they are doing it at very little gain for themselves and they don't charge much rent. It was a huge hit and filled in right away, long before I understood I HAD to have a space there.
I realized, after MUCH research into the matter, that though I had dreamed and schemed for years, opening a storefront in downtown Lowell was a bad idea right now. We moved here in 2000 when there was a lot of optimism about the kind of city Lowell was about to become. It's had a "lot of potential" for going on 7 years now, and a lot of the steps forward have now slid backward. Shops are closing and the spaces are remaining empty. The city is crowing about the dozens of high-end lofts being developed down here, but there just isn't enough foot traffic to keep small retail afloat. Very sad.
So a studio became the clear answer to my need to start this business of making and selling what I make. They have open studio days once a month, more at holidays, and I can get all my art supplies out of our tiny living space. I can have an address to meet clients and a place to go every day where I can run my business and be surrounded by a group of like-minded artistic folk.
I decided that my business would have three elements:
1) An online presence; my shop at Etsy, this blog, perhaps a third main webpage
2) Traveling to participate in craft shows
3) The Studio.
So far I have really enjoyed setting up the Etsy part of this plan, and I have so much more I want to add to the shop. But I'm eager to start the studio portion of the business now! I'll let you know what happens.