When things are slow on the sidewalk, business can be found on the Internet.
That’s the experience of A Touch of Dutch owner Misty Blanton, who has built such an Internet presence that she has sold her keepsakes to people in The Netherlands.
The Coupeville business woman has spent the past several years building her Web business while selling out of her Front Street storefront.
“In between customers, I’m packing and shipping,” Blanton said one recent morning. “It took about four years to get where it is today.”
In those four years, she has developed her Web site to where it accounts for about one-third of her sales.
She started her Web site, atouchofdutch.com, when she purchased the business nearly eight years ago. However, it took several years before people could purchase her merchandise online. She said her Web site has seen steady growth over the years and is one of the reasons she has been able to keep the doors open in a down economy.
Without her Web site, she doubts she could stay open.
“It was a very savvy thing to do,” said Linda Eccles, executive director for the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce, who encourages other businesses to branch out to the Web.
In the case of selling to The Netherlands, a woman living there was getting married and wanted ceremonial wedding tiles to give to her guests. While the tiles are manufactured in The Netherlands, the woman couldn’t find a retail location. In the end, the tiles were made in The Netherlands, customized in Michigan and then sold by A Touch of Dutch in Coupeville. Blanton was happy to ship them back to their home country.
For people wishing to start a Web site, she stressed the importance of renewing the domain registration, which she does every three years. She said a neighboring business failed to maintain their registration and somebody bought their domain name.
Another business leader in Coupeville is following suit and hopes to be selling online sometime in the middle of the year. Deb Crocker, who owns and operates One More Thing!, Beyond the Sea and Back to the Island on Front Street, hopes to start selling from the Web site OnemorethingonWhidbey.com.
Crocker said she plans to sell Whidbey-Island-produced merchandise. Currently her Web site is functioning, but shoppers can’t purchase any items from it yet.
Judging by Blanton’s success, they’ll be ready to buy when they are shown the way on the Web.