NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> It was an unseasonably warm Saturday in early March. This often meant a good day at the store.
I own a small gifting boutique in Newtown Borough called "Adorn Me." It’s a wonderful little town that can take you back in time. You walk into the hardware store and think it's 1950. Church bells echo throughout town. I am on a first name basis with our postal carrier - she even shops at our store. There is so much more.
We opened six years ago and have done okay. Enough to stay open during the reign of Amazon. l always provide superior customer service and genuinely want our customers to leave feeling good. This seems to be a lost art and I genuinely believe it remains the reason for our success. I have made many true friends because of it. My family supported me from day one. And that’s what this story is about.
By Monday we were closed. Shutdown! It did not seem real. My first impulse was to stay open. We would not survive otherwise. But the government was now running the show. I ceded all control. At least that is what I thought.
This is where my wonderful nephew comes in. His name is Seth and if we survive, he gets much of the credit. Seth and I went for a bike ride and sat atop a hill where he convinced me to build a website.
“Put the store online,” he said. He would build it for me and have it up and running in a week. “He would hand me the keys after that.” And he did.
Even so, the idea was daunting. I am not a tech person.
Seth really is a renaissance man, and among other things, he has a beautiful handmade furniture business. I urge anyone reading this to check out his craft – vitanovacollective.com.
After Seth graduated from college, he set out to be a teacher. He substituted for a few years, but could not get a full-time job. He would have been a great teacher. Since then, everything he has done is self-taught. Furniture and websites are just a few things he does well.
He said I needed to do one thing: “Take great photographs of our products.” That would distinguish us from other websites. “Build a light-box, and just use your cell phone camera.” That’s it. That was my task.
“Wait, what? A light-box?” For the non-photographers, like me, it is literally a box, lined in white that isolates the subject. Oh you can buy a professional one, but shipping could take weeks. I crafted a makeshift one from a cardboard box and it works. Taking photographs turned out to be a tedious task. Hundreds of hours were required. As I write this, we have taken over 500 photographs with many more to come.
This is where my best customer Diane comes in. She and her husband own Shelmet Plumbing. Toll Brothers is their biggest client. Toll Brothers was shut down in Pennsylvania. Diane offered to help stage and take photographs with me. She spent countless hours with me. I could not have done it without her. She is no longer my best customer, but one of my best friends.
Anyone who operates a website will tell you it becomes a full-time job – especially at the outset. This was a blessing because I now had purpose. My ultimate one being survival as a small business. This meant more photographs, descriptions, pricing, drop-down menus, etc. – input, input, input. It becomes eternal.
My sister Lilly brought me coffee one day, and just like Diane, she has been with me almost every day. She is a hairdresser and has a keen eye for style. Our photographs turned out great. She is like millions in our country – her source of income came to a screeching halt. Yet she shows up almost every day, with coffee, to help. She is Seth’s mom. No wonder. We are closer than ever.
Howard owns Boyd Geyer Sign – boydsigncorp.com. He has been with us from day one. His business is down the street. Howard is one of our most reliable partners and friends. Over the years our evolvement required different signage. A quick phone call with him and viola the perfect sign arrives in days.
You see, Howard is an artist at heart, so when you tell him what you need, he envisions it better than you. He is a caring and selfless person. I needed a sign to let folks know that we are now online. That’s him in the photo with our latest sign.
These are just a few friends and family who helped me. Yes we social distanced – made things much more difficult, but at six feet a lot can still get accomplished.
My customers, vendors and sales reps provided invaluable feedback about the website. And hey we have started to sell a few things.
I am so grateful for all the support. It was only a few weeks ago that despair reared its menacing head. Now my husband constantly reminds about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), keyword searches and blogging. All foreign concepts before the you know what hit the fan.
Simply put, without friends and family I could not have moved our business to a website in an effort to survive this crisis. They were selfless, carrying the same burdens and worries like everyone in our country. Their love and support kept me going and gave me the steadfast attitude that everything will be ok.