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How It’s Going (The Thailand Clothes & Bags Shop Project)

Well, for any who’ve travelled around Asia, that pic should be a rather familiar site. The ubiquitous market or bazaar. I suspect foreign tourists and travellers see such things and think it’s all for them. Nope, it’s how the locals shop.

And no, that isn’t the shop I’m putting together; that’s in the Chong Chom Market on the Thai-Cambodia border. The market has both retail, and wholesale if buying in quantity. As Yui’s shop gets up and going it will be possible for better wholesale prices (larger orders), and shipping to the door from Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. For now, here’s the grand scheme of things from a bird’s eye view.

I think it’s quite a start, thanks to the 45 donations totalling $2,640 on GoFundMe and GiveSendGo. While it’s just over 10% of the total goal, I made the goal high for other things like paying off their car and education for the girls. Once at $10,000, it’s a sure bet the clothes & bags shop will be a viable, going concern.

So let me explain the strategy here. The original target was to lease a shop in Surin City proper. The problem is that it’s about 2 hours drive from home (I’ve done it many times…everything once off the 24 is 2-lane, annoying as hell with super-slow moving vehicles). So it’s not something anyone is going to do every morning and evening, so you have to rent a room at 3,000-5,000 baht per month ($100-150) and you’re not home with the kids every night. The solution was to lease in a high-traffic area, right next to a petrol station. The drive to home is 20 minutes, mostly 4-lane highway. Home every night, plus saving on expenses.

…The wholesale sources for now at Chong Chom are a quick and easy drive. But what’s more is that Yui can still sell at the many flea markets in Surin and she has a helper for that. So far, she’s at a scale where gross margin (after cost of goods sold) is 1,500-2,000 baht per selling day. It’s about $45-60, which doesn’t sound like much to an American or Euro, but it’s real money here. For a Thai, it’s your equivalent of $225-600. That’s the disparity in cost of living here…5-10 times less, depending on your choices.

So what we’ve done is set up a sort of “war chart” that gives us as many avenues for winning, success, and domination of the battlefield as we can. The last thing I want is to fail and waste everyone’s money. I’m on this daily like a fly on shit.

Here’s the latest on how the money from 45 of you is being spent.

Unsurprisingly, the main cost initially is in setting up. You can’t use it all on inventory when you don’t have a proper selling space. And Yui is a stickler for having to look very nice. I’m anxious to show pictures in the weeks to come. She’s classy. It will look classy.

I’m so amazed with the total amount of donations for this charity project of mine which I think has been recognized by some to be how charity ought to be done. Rather than engender donations for consumption, you seek them for business activities where your donations can build and sustain. And one day, your charitable causes are themselves charitable.

That said, it cannot escape my notice that my email list is 6,500; and of those, 800 are members. 600 on the free level and 200 on paid. 45 individuals have donated and relatively, it’s impressive. On average amongst the 45, $59.

So I’m chewing on it all the time. What if 1,000 people did 10 bucks each? That’s 10k bucks and the project is in the can.

Ironically, what’s happened here isn’t really crowdfunding where a lot of people pitch in a little. It’s a few pitching in big. The most common donation is $100.

So, I’m going to keep chewing on that and record a video for my next plea.

Thank you.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

4 Comments

  1. Jim Dobrow on June 13, 2022 at 20:06

    Richard,
    Great project. Nice Work.
    I don’t know if you have numbers on engagement?
    I’m a paid member, but only check in from time to time.
    This is the first I’ve learned about this project.
    So, maybe there are others like me?
    Good luck.
    –Jim Dobrow

    • Richard Nikoley on June 14, 2022 at 06:50

      Well certainly could be, Jim. One thing I’ve learned from doing this membership thing for just over a year now is that the paid members are the least actively engaged (generally speaking). I get the sense that for some, they just like supporting it, take it at their leisure. I’m a pretty mixed bag in terms of content. I have to write what’s just given me a wind hair and not trudge through some formulaic calculation.

      So it would be unsurprising that I’m not johnny on the spot in terms of tracking all sorts of engagement metrics. I see all sorts of peeps out there pulling down crazy numbers and wonder how they do it. Probably a huge lot goes into tracking and targeted messages, etc. Or, they’re just way cooler than I.

      The thing I like the most is surprising myself, then sharing it. The ability to pivot legitimately and change one’s mind without feeling like an idiot, but a learner, is a good thing to develop and if there’s one thing I wish to pass on to readers, it’s that.

  2. JavaScript Raj on June 13, 2022 at 23:32

    Richard – you’re doing good work. I’ve been an FTA fan for almost eight years, and you were always honest with your views. You always allowed new information to change your perspective instead of doubling down.

    I appreciate the detailed transparency of the money donated to help your family learn to fish.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 14, 2022 at 06:51

      Thank you sir. That’s a damn nice compliment that recognizes my spirit in all of this.

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