The Spotted Magpie

1420 Main St.
Cincinnati, OH

Shannan Schmitt of The Spotted Magpie

Shannan Schmitt owns The Spotted Magpie, a store that sells vintage kitsch and handmade, local craft items and artwork in Over-the-Rhine.

How did you start your business?
It wasn’t the typical start, and I didn’t have a perfect plan. When I started this, I had a partner and we really loved going to flea markets and craft shows. We found an opportunity for a space in Over-the-Rhine. Without a plan or serious thought, we jumped at the chance.

I don’t advocate people starting a business without a rough idea of a business plan, but sometimes you have to take an opportunity when it presents itself.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I’ve always had a love for shopping and all things vintage. We thought a shop devoted to vintage, handmade and kitschy things would do well in the urban core, and we were right. People are buying into the recycle, reuse idea. They want things that you can’t get at the big box stores.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I’m a graduate of SpringBoard. The program was instrumental in helping me get my T's crossed and I's dotted; understanding cashflow and its importance is just one example.

SCORE was also a huge help, and it’s a free resource. We found ourselves an advisor and mentor, Fitz Corr, who lives in Northern Kentucky, through them. He spent several years with a Fortune 500 company. He knew the ins and outs of basic product sales and formulas for break-even points and cost volume.

There’s also Merchants of Main Street and an Over-the-Rhine/Gateway quarter group that meets to share best practices. We talk about everything from retail tips to what’s going on in the neighborhood to the latest reports on crime. The OTR community itself is fun because it embraces you; it’s a creative community on the rise.

What inspires you?
Meeting new people, and sharing their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s exciting to see what new ideas people come up with, and just being part of the OTR resurgence and seeing this community come to life. Every Final Friday we see the opening of new stores, new galleries. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of.

What’s next for you and your company?
Building an e-commerce site so we can increase sales. I work full-time and love my job, so doing this full-time wasn’t part of the plan. Never did I think I’d get rich off of this! It’s just doing something I love with people I love in a community I want to support.

We’re getting to a point where we’re making enough profit to expand and bring in help to do that—help with inventory management and keeping the store open. It’d be in our favor to open up another day each week to catch folks who work downtown, as well as people who come down on the weekend.

I'm keeping my eye on purchasing a building and having a true landmark establishment in OTR. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m certainly looking at it.

Interview by Robin Donovan