The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the adoption of e-commerce sites and online shopping portals for small enterprises; and Mixed Methods in Hanover Square, Syracuse, is no different.
In fact, owner Amy Wilson has demonstrated some of the best practices in moving her shop inventory online quickly and professionally.
Mixed Methods is a brick and mortar retail shop that features a variety of unique artists' work from across the United States including pottery, jewelry, glass, metal, wood, stationery, candles and much more. Owner Amy Wilson first came to the SBDC at Onondaga Community College in January of 2019, when a long-time artisan shop in Syracuse was shutting its downtown doors. Amy had worked at this retail location and recognized the void that would be opening with its closing. She discovered that she had the desire, acumen, and organization skills to make her dream of Mixed Methods a reality.
Amy worked with SBDC Senior Business Advisor Frank Cetera who provided coaching, research assistance, proofreading, constructive criticism, and general business start-up mentoring. Both client and advisor worked together on the development of Mixed Methods’ business plan, LLC formation, budgeting and cash flow financial statements, and real estate options. Amy Wilson stated that, “from the beginning, SBDC has been a reliable resource and one of my go-to places to get information, ask questions, or learn about something new”.
The doors of Mixed Methods were opened in mid-2019, and Advisor Cetera and Owner Amy coordinated a Ribbon cutting ceremony and media event that included SBDC and SBA representatives.
When COVID-19 hit brick & mortar stores hard Amy was quick to transition her inventory online, even though it was not part of her strategic plan for years 1 and 2 of the business. She demonstrated numerous best practices that other brick & mortars would likely find beneficial to adopt. First, she recognized the necessity of the pivot to online sales and, in response, she pivoted her time allocated to managing the business from in-store operations to converting her inventory to an online catalog and check-out powered by a free online store using the Square platform.
Amy got back in touch with her business Advisor to help her navigate the small business stimulus funds from the federal government CARES Act. She had some reserves in place to cover general operating expenses for a few months (another best practice any business needs to implement) but she needed help with outstanding invoices, employee wages, and determining other answers to application questions. Mixed Methods ended up receiving a COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan for $2,000 and a $5,000 grant through Syracuse Small Business Emergency Relief Fund provided by the KeyBank Business Boost and Build program.
It's valuable to recognize the many best practices that make Mixed Methods a success story. Amy very clearly and completely lays out and communicates the store’s COVID safety protocols on her website, both in writing and with a graphic presentation. She also has up-to-date and functioning social media presences on Facebook and Instagram. Both use the handle “LetsGetMixed”, which are integrated with her website, inventory, and communications.
Owner Amy Wilson says, “the recent holiday shopping season was so different from last year, but by making adjustments and receiving valuable financial assistance I was able to offer additional shopping options of local delivery, in-store pick-up and shipping through the online store and well as in-store hours. This allowed shoppers different ways to still shop locally and safely. Over the next couple of months, I'll review sales trends and processes and work to maintain the online shopping options and storefront".
Visit Mixed Methods online at https://letsgetmixed.com/ and shop for delivery, pickup, or shipping options from amazing artisans. Gift purchases receive complimentary packaging with artist information- a unique feature of the shop; and appointments to visit the store can be specially scheduled outside of normal open hours.
Article published in the 'The Central New York Business Journal' on January 25, 2021
Frank Cetera is an Advanced Certified Business Advisor at the Small Business Development Center located at Onondaga Community College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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