Retailer” is a monthly feature where we discuss industry strategies,
trends, happenings, or just about anything relevant with toy and hobby
retailers across the country. If you have something interesting to
say and would like to be featured here, by all means tell us! Please
By Timothy Dickey
October 1, 2002
Store Name: Silomark House
Store Location: www.silomarkhouse.com
Owner: Tina Collins
stores and companies offer a philosophy that becomes part of the
reason you patronize them. On-line merchant Silomark House (www.silomarkhouse.com)
offers an inventory that would appeal to moms and families especially,
like baby seat accessories, unique jewelry and candles.
besides being our first on-line Real Retailer, we think Tina Collins’
affiliation with a network of moms who work out of their homes makes
Silomark House unique. Much of her product and business
network comes from (or has passed the muster with) these business
savvy stay-at-home mothers, and that seems to have made all the
more information on this network of “Moms On a Mission”,
contact Collins through her website, or the organization Little
Did I Know at littledidIknow.com.)
Directory Monthly: How long have you been in business?
Collins: Since February, 1998
Can you tell us a little bit about what your store offers?
After inventing Stroller Shade, an umbrella that attaches to the
handle of a baby stroller to protect the adult from sun and rain,
I needed a way to produce a sales track record before attempting
to sell my product to catalogs and retailers. The Internet was the
obvious answer. About 18 months ago I was contacted by the owner
of Loving Arms™ baby carrier to see if I would be interested
in marketing her product for her. Today, Silomark House is an Internet
connection for unique, high-quality products and services made,
invented or provided by entrepreneurial women. Our ever-expanding
product line includes gifts for the whole family, specialty baby
accessories, collectibles, and decorator items.
Who is your typical customer?
Savvy shoppers who are looking for truly unique items of exceptional
quality at affordable prices.
How do you let the public know who you are and what you carry?
The majority of our advertising is Internet based: Direct e-mail
campaigns, high visibility with search engines, targeted press releases.
Visitors and customers can “Tell a friend about this site”
from every page by simply entering the email address of the friend.
This option sends a direct link to our site and provides space for
personal comments. We maximize our exposure via involvement in networking,
word of mouth and advertising in family oriented publications.
Please describe any special promotions for your store or your products.
The Blue Kangaroo
Contests have proven to be very effective. They are easy
to do at little or no cost and email addresses are captured in a
database for future product announcements, sales, contests, newsletters
and more. All participants have the option to ‘opt out’
of follow-up emails from us. We participate in trade and craft shows
distributing product and company information to the public. This
allows us positive one on one contact with potential customers.
Which self-promotion or marketing efforts have been worth
the cost or effort?
Press releases distributed via fax by online services give
us the maximum exposure at the lowest cost. We can target these
releases to specific media, interest groups, and readers. The time
involved on our end is minimal less than an hour. Approximate cost
for 400 faxed press releases, $100. A major benefit of this method
of marketing our company and product is: Press releases have an
indeterminate life span. It is not unusual to be contacted for further
information as much as 6 to 18 months after the date of the release.
And, there is no cost when the release is published!
Why do you think customers shop with you instead of going to another
Our web site is very easy to navigate. We’ve made every effort
to provide thorough, accurate information about each product or
service and the person who makes, invented or provides them. Our
site is more than a store; it is an information resource. We pride
ourselves on personal service. Every page of our site offers a one-click
way to contact us. Each inquiry is personally answered in less than
24 hours from the time it is received. Our mission statement is:
Quality is our commitment; excellence our standard.
Have you run a bricks and mortar store before, and if so, how would
you compare the two?
Not a retail store. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs
and had been in business for myself several years before jumping
into the Internet as a retailer.
Better, worse, different?
I have to say better and different. Better in that my Internet store
can be managed right from my personal computer at home. Customers
evaluate my company on the professional look and functionality and
level of customer service, not on the physical location, size, or
appearance of a store. And, I’m not limited by location, virtually
anyone, anywhere can come to my store to shop. I have more control
and many more resources and tools to make my business run smoothly
What warnings or advice would you give someone about to start a
Do not expect instant results! Building an Internet business is
a process…an ever-changing process. As the Internet and its
users change, so must your website. There is more to a web-business
than putting up a site. The way the site is constructed determines
how search engines find and rank the site. There’s more behind
the scenes to a successful Internet business than meets the eye.
Maintaining a web site is very time consuming. I quickly learned
in order for me to be successful in this new arena, I had to have
experienced help. There are web designers and search engine placement
consultants. There are multitudes of Internet marketing companies
eager to promise top ranking in all search engines and phenomenal
results. Beware. Basically, any start-up business takes three to
five years to turn a profit. An Internet business is no quick fix
to profitability. Understanding and accepting this is key. The most
positive thing about tackling the Internet is the dynamics and potential
of doing business worldwide.
Do you plan to expand your web offerings?
Could you explain your involvement with www.littledidIknow.com ?
I’ve been a member for two years and served on the Advisory
Board for a year and a half. I credit much of the growth and success
of my business to LittleDidIKnow.com.
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