“We are constantly tweaking our product offerings based on feedback and requests from our customers. That is one of the benefits of shopping with a locally owned company. We have direct interaction with our customers and can make quick changes.”
It’s true that buying local was not the “in thing” at that time. However, we saw the potential for offering a collective source of nice (non-souvenir type) state made products. We love the Alabama and want to promote it! Many people simply desire to buy products that are unique and well made. Also, there are times when people want to give a gift that reflects Alabama. We frequently sell to customers who are travelling and buying a gift for their host(s). Corporate orders are a big part of our business. Some companies want to send gifts representing their Alabama location. Brides buy for out-of-town guests. Beth Staula (my business partner) and I identified several reasons people would want to buy high-quality, Alabama-made items and decided to fulfill that need.2. How has your business model changed over the years?
We are constantly tweaking our product offerings based on feedback and requests from our customers. That is one of the benefits of shopping with a locally owned company. We have direct interaction with our customers and can make quick changes. One great enhancement we made was to upgrade our website, AlabamaGoods.com. We receive orders from all over the country. We have shipped to every state in the United States.
3. What do you look for when selecting products for the store?
We look for items that reflect the charm and culture of Alabama. We have so much talent in Alabama! We carry products made as far north as Elkmont, as far south as Mobile, and cities in between. Our best-selling products are food and gift baskets (we are in the South!), followed by pottery. We also sell a good bit of jewelry, soaps, candles, art, tea towels, and all sorts of interesting Alabama-made items.
4. Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself before launching a business?
We launched our website, AlabamaGoods.com, in October 2007. Right after we launched, the economy went into the recession. Being cautious, we waited until 2011 to open our store. I wish we would’ve been braver and opened a store sooner. That is where we experience the largest majority of revenue.
5. What advice do you have for other local artisans and makers looking to sell their goods?
I recommend that artisans stay in touch with what is trending in style and color. I’m not suggesting that they duplicate items, but that they consider incorporating current styles and color in their designs. Solicit feedback from customers to know what they are seeking.