"Click-and Mortar" Gift Shop
July 19, 2007
The LadyBug Shop is a specialized “click-and-mortar” gift shop that my wife Rhonda and I opened in Milford, Delaware in November 2003. The “click” refers to the fact that we have a website that is used to sell our products online to customers around the world. The “mortar” refers to the fact that at the same time we operate a retail gift shop in downtown Milford to serve customers who shop in Milford. In large part we started the LadyBug Shop an experiment to see if this type of business can help to revitalize historic downtowns in small cities. We have been working for several years with the Downtown Milford Inc., a not-for-profit volunteer group dedicated to the revitalization of the town’s historic central business district. We realized that it is very difficult to create a viable cluster of small businesses in an older downtown area using traditional business models. Given the limited amount of shopping now occurring in the area, the pioneering shops usually did not survive very long, thus the critical mass of shops needed to draw shoppers back downtown could not be accumulated. We thought eCommerce could be used to supplement traditional retailing and thus be a useful tool for sustaining viable businesses in the downtown area while the in-store shopping customer base was built up over time. I plan to use my entries in this blog to record our experiences in setting up and operating the LadyBug Shop so that others can learn from our experience.