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Is it possible to grow your business during the pandemic if you’re not selling masks or sanitizers?
Ted Seifert, Ecwid merchant and business owner of Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants, proves you can: he has grown sales 35% year over year, all during the quarantine!
Starting and Running a Wine Shop
My name is Ted Seifert, and I run Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants, Downtown Bellingham’s exclusive wine shop, that focuses on small artisan producers from the Northwest as well as a strong global mix.
After 30 years in the wine industry, I decided it was time to get off the road and scale it down. I connected with a long time customer, Diane Jones, who felt the same way and we partnered up in 2013. That’s how Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants started.
At the time our concept was focusing on being the sole wine shop in town and to be a brick and mortar retailer.
We have no desire to conquer the wine world. We are happy with being the only exclusive wine shop in the area.
For the first 5 years it was just myself and my partner Diane Jones. We were able to grow and build without having the cost of labor. Eventually, we came to a place where we needed extra help. Before
Any industry has its specifics that make running a business challenging. For wine selling, it’s cash flow, cash flow, cash flow. It’s very difficult in our industry for a couple of reasons. We don’t get terms on purchasing and everything is cash on delivery. That’s what makes it difficult at times to be tight with budgeting. Many times we purchase items that only come in once a year and we have to invest in those.
At the time, our weekly numbers may not match that dollar amount, but we have to make it work. Our success with that comes from really focusing on weekly budgets and staying with them.
Building Reputation and Community
Over the years, we’ve achieved a lot. Our major milestone is keeping our doors open as long as we have. We have built brands for decades and we knew it would take time. We had to build a reputation first.
It took us about 5 years to gain confidence and a reputation. Now, we just continue to build off that foundation.
Besides our rich selection of wine, we’re proud of the diverse community we built around our shop, with customers in their early 20’s to seniors in retirement. We like supporting families and farmers, people we have connected over our years in the industry.
We love our customers and they love us back! As a way to capture long term customers, we started our own Wine Club, which has been hugely successful. Many clubs serve as a margin booster. That can bite you — customers know how much things cost. But we have a very little ratio on customers quitting. In fact, we gained far more new members than cancellations since
Our strategy is to give them more than what they paid for which differentiates us from competitors.
Going Online Because of the Pandemic
Our plan was never to be an online experience. While we did develop a webpage from the beginning. We mainly were focused on personal experience — that’s why people came to us.
And with the arrival of
During the downtime, we realized online sales was the only avenue. At the beginning, our tech guy, John Meloy, started to prep the custom program development to sell online. However, we were shocked looking at the cost and needed an alternative option. So he researched
When we went online with Ecwid and Clover, we were able to make more purchases. We like how Ecwid and Clover integrate and work together — we only started in April, but our sales are up 35% from the previous year in a time of trouble.
Promoting the Wine Shop
We use several ways to promote our store, and feel our best platform is the direct to consumer weekly email. Our approach is don’t go overboard with email. Once a week we pick a wine of the week and highlight it along with several new arrivals. We also offer menu pairings with one of the new arrivals.
As for other promotion tools, we also use Instagram and Facebook. Over the years, we’ve tried print and radio, but have since stopped going that direction.
All Business Owners Should…
…Love their job and have passion for what they do. I’ve been in the wine business for decades, and wouldn’t have made it this far if the industry wasn’t right for me.
That brings me to my next point: experience, experience, experience. You must know your industry. Both me and my partner had
And lastly, cash. Make sure you have enough.
Also read: How to Pay Yourself When You Own a Business
Inspired? Start Your Own Business Today
Ted’s story is proof that even during tough times you can succeed as long as you have passion for your business and the right tools at your disposal. Do you have an inspiring story of your own? Send it to email@example.com and we might share it with the Ecwid blog readers!
If you’re ready to start your own business, download the blueprint below where we cover all the stages of an online store launch, from choosing a name to running your first advertising campaign.