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What a great idea Megs! Can’t think of a better place than the Gold Coast to be setting something like that up.

Personally I think you have your big idea so well mapped out that you really should consider going head on into it. It just depends on your financial situation and whether you already have a collection of designers ready to pay rent from the get-go. If not, I’d start with that.

Source your location wisely and create a solid outline of your plan.
Then, approach and find designers that you would like to collaborate with. You could even make it a joint venture where you select a few designers you feel will really do well with the store and offer them a % for pitching in for startup costs (lease, fit-out, etc). It would be particularly beneficial if these artists had different niches as they could vary the offering of your workshops and classes.

Understand in advance how you will market it. As Wordsmith said, PR will be your best avenue as media love stories like this and their coverage is free. So investing in a good copywriter to write and send out a few awesome press releases should be at the top of your marketing budget. Other than that, cost effective ways to get the word out there would be community noticeboards, flyers handed out (or pay someone to have them on their stand) at another market and creating a facebook group where you can engage people from the local community and get the word out without having to create a website (I agree with you – website should wait until you have your store ticking along steadily, otherwise you will spread yourself too thin).

Pop up stalls and sourcing cafes to run classes is (I believe) just as much work as diving into the big idea. I have set up numerous retail businesses and besides the initial costs of lease and insurance and fit-out, it really is not a difficult undertaking. It’s the marketing and cash flow planning that is the hard part.

Considering the retail market right now, I am sure you could negotiate a short term lease with a reasonable premise owner to test the idea, even if the monthly lease costs were a little higher.

Hope this helps and I wish you every luck. Absolutely a top idea :)