NORMAN — Shopping local is becoming easier as brick-and-mortar businesses evolve into the online marketplace. Many community-oriented business owners launched websites to better serve customers. Now, they’re expanding online services to compete with the burgeoning virtual shopping realm. It’s a matter of survival.
“I’m in a perfect spot to see the future,” said Barbara Fite, co-owner of Antique Garden, a clothing and home decor shop on Campus Corner adjacent to the University of Oklahoma.
“There has been a seismic shift,” Fite said. “People my age and my daughter’s age went shopping as a social activity.”
Today’s college women are not shopping socially, she said. Instead, they are shopping online.
“It’s a cultural change,” Fite said.
While Fite’s market demographic is impacted by this shift, she is growing her base of customers age 30 and older, while expanding her online presence to accommodate the shift in the college market.
The secret to successful entrepreneurship involves expanding beyond local boundaries to bring in outside dollars, adapting to constantly changing markets, and creatively marketing and packaging products in ways that enhance or create a unique market share. It’s a lesson many local businesses have taken to heart.
“We are at the very beginning process of our website,” Fite said. “It is going to continue to get bigger and better.”
While Fite hopes the majority of her customers will browse the site for ideas and then come into the store to shop, many items can be ordered directly online. However, she believes online-only shoppers are missing out on services and fun shopping in-person brings.
“We have awesome people who work with customers to find what they want and to get the perfect fit,” she said. “Customers get free real-world advice when they’re in here.”