Fite and McGowen emphasize that owning a small business is hard work.
“And hard work doesn’t always equal success,” McGowen said. “But there are free outlets you can take advantage of these days, and I just spread my brand wherever I can.”
Keeping up with a website and social media outlets is costly in time, but it’s a necessary evil in today’s culture.
“One of my friends is a graphic designer, and before I opened the store, I sat down and talked to her about my vision for the website,” McGowen said. “I wear the hat of webmaster.”
Designing the site was just the beginning. McGowen must update it and maintain it. She uploads new products weekly.
“It’s very time consuming,” McGowen said. “I try to devote a couple of hours at the end of ever week updating the site. My goal is to have everything I sell in the store available online.”
That means she photographs products, writes product information and removes products that have sold out. However, the work is “absolutely” worth the time investment.
“I don’t always see the sales online, but I hear on almost a daily basis that people have been online,” McGowen said.
More and more, local business are increasing offerings and information available online. For example, International Pantry, 1618 W. Lindsey St., has a lively Internet business in addition to walk-in traffic and local cooking classes.
In addition, most big box and junior box retail stores combine local shopping with online convenience. Stores like Sears, Target, Home Depot, Hastings and others allow customers to shop and order online, then pick up items at the local outlet. That keeps sales tax dollars local and usually eliminates shipping fees or other charges associated with online shopping.