Yesterday was a fairly hectic day. This is now becoming something of a routine in sleepy old Stuart, Fla.
A lot of what I did involved running around to City Hall getting the right forms filled out in order to get a business license that will allow Needlepoint Land to officially open its doors.
So this involved visits to the Stuart Growth Management Office, the Martin County Tax Department, and calls to the State Department of Taxation. This is the bureaucratic but necessary part of setting up.
I bought a fire extinguisher from Home Depot, but will not be able to have the Fire Marshall come in to inspect the place until most of the fixture and furnishings are in place, and the merchandise set up.
This means the display panels (I have three types) have to be mounted, the thread spinner racks set up on the floor, the counter / register installed, and the window displays all put together. This all has to accomplished during the next 2 – 3 weeks, in order for Needlepoint Land to obtained a required certificate prior to the July 1st soft launch.
Of course I will be changing the layout of the store during the summer, as new merchandise arrives. But the bones of the store have to all be in, though, and there remains a lot of work to do, including setting up the credit card terminal, and a number of other tasks.
As readers of my blog now know, Needlepoint Land will also have an eCommerce channel. I’m not talking about using WordPress to display pics and tell customers to call me for orders. I am talking about a bona fide eCommerce marketplace that will be heavily promoted in a variety of ways and where Needlepoint Land will have a genuine opportunity to excel in the online space.
I won’t say too much about it now, in terms of specifics. But it’s fair to say that I wanted Needlepoint Land to go online with a service that is fresher and more innovative than the big 3, Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy — where it would have been extremely difficult to differentiate Needlepoint Land in terms of branding, and where customer service from a seller’s POV can be less than friendly.
In that regard, I never did hear back from Jeff Bezos regarding the brain-damaged idea of requiring needlepoint canvases to have UPC codes. That, coupled with his company’s heavy-handed, monopolistic arrogance in dealing with Hachette and other publishing houses, has completely turned me off to Amazon. Plus I never liked their Internet 1.0 interface anyway.
The inventory upload facet of my eStore was tested this week by my technical staff, and we have a dedicated rep who is working with us in terms of setting up the shop online.
This is the same staff that is going to be painting the rest of the Homasote panels today (it rained a lot yesterday, so there was a delay in that regard); being entrepreneurial does mean being willing to wear many hats and do whatever it takes to make the dream happen.
Needlepoint Land’s online channel may have a slightly different logo (though very similar) to the one I’m using for my B&M store. You can see the online version at the top of this page. Note the incredibly creative way the perch the parrot is standing on and the thread he’s holding in his beak combine to form the letters NL!
I have no doubt it will fine tuned with my UK graphical artist over the summer to make it look sleeker and achieve higher resolution when shrunk down to below 100 px size. Incidentally, I may decide to go with the eCommerce logo throughout (without the tag line), if I want to have take a visually consistent omnichannel approach: blog, eCommerce, Twitter.
Re the online channel, I plan to offer a variety of vintage and new canvases, but also other sorts of merchandise, such as needlepoint accessories.
I am having a tiered pricing model: products under $100 will be considered Tier 1, Tier 2 products $100 – $300, and Tier 3 will be any product that retails over $300. The initial phase of the eCommerce roll-out channel will consist mainly of Tier 1 merchandise. As the summer progresses, I will add to the product mix, and launch various promotional campaigns, including online coupons.
The level of activity in terms of preparing for the soft launch is ramping up significantly. It’s not at frenzy yet, but getting close.
While I do expect B&M sales at Country Club Plaza (where Needlepoint Land is physically located) to be fairly modest during the slow summer season, I don’t yet have enough data to predict how the online side of the biz will do.
There is much that has to be done technically on the eCommerce side, and done very quickly. I have decided to hold off integration with whatever accounting solution I end up using till later this summer.
Finally, one other last piece of news.
In almost exactly 30 days, the look of this blog will change dramatically.
I am switching to a new, premium WordPress theme. I have used the Matala theme for two years, and now it’s time for a face lift!
Second, posts that now appear up front will be replaced by a promo page (what in WordPress terminology is known as a “static” page, though I hope it will be far from that!).
I am going to use it to advertise whatever is happening at Needlepoint land — whether at the B&M or in my eCommerce space — such as trunk shows, classes, promos, and whatever else is going on.
I am of course continuing the blog, as the saga of Needlepoint Land still needs to be told, but it will now appear on the menu bar. You will have to click on the Blog option on this menu bar option to get to it. Or, it may turn out to be an Icon in the new Header area that will take you directly to the blog.
In addition, the sidebar in the new theme will have an Image widget of a shopping cart icon of some sort, or perhaps an icon indicating where my store is located online. This widget will allow you to connect directly to my eCommerce channel.
I look forward to seeing you there!
© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016