In this episode of Merchant Stories, we talk to Fairy Homes & Gardens. You’ll learn how a relentless merchant made a strategic decision to transition from a brick and mortar nursery to an online store with tremendous success.
Can you tell us about your store and what you sell?
I had run a brick-and-mortar boutique nursery for years, but the rising operating costs forced me to pivot and explore other business options. I knew there was a need for fairy houses and miniatures in the market, as I had already seen incredible demand from my physical shop alone. I read up on the ins and outs of managing an e-commerce business and made the transition in 2011, opening Fairy Homes & Gardens, and I haven’t looked back since. I found it was a smarter and more sustainable choice for my business.
I sell everything a new or seasoned gardener needs to create beautiful fairy gardens. We also provide inspiration and products for anyone interested in fairy houses and miniatures.
How did you get your first products stocked?
I am lucky because the nursery I ran previously had many similar products to the ones I’m selling online, so my first stock came from my brick-and-mortar store. I used to make a lot of fairy houses and miniatures myself, as it’s a hobby of mine, so many initial products were handmade by me as well. Now, we source products both locally and nationally, offering miniatures with movie tie-ins or seasonal tie-ins.
Do you currently run your store full time or part time? Tell us about the experience.
I currently run Fairy Homes and Gardens full time. It’s been a challenging experience, especially transitioning fully to an e-commerce business; learning the logistics of what goes into what, but I have found it mostly fulfilling and enjoyable. Not only do I get the opportunity to follow my passion and sell the exact sort of products I’d buy for my own garden, but I get to interact with the gardening community, offer advice where needed and learn from my customers on what kinds of products they’d like to see.
How do you interact with your customers?
I am very personal with my customers because I find the kinds of people who shop at my store are very similar to me. I have several different customer service lines (email or phone), and love to help customers decide which products to get or even talk about the quality of the materials I’m selling. It provides me the opportunity to understand their wants and needs more so I can better source products for my store.
What are some of the challenges you’re facing now?
One major challenge I’m facing is how to take my business to the next level, whether that includes marketing or product offerings. I believe this is a challenge many business owners face whenever they’re entering a new phase of business. I spend time reviewing business plans, checking website stats, and figuring out where I need to devote more energy and where I can outsource.
What apps/plugins are most useful to you?
My website is run on BigCommerce. Lately their SEO plugins and add-ons have been incredibly useful to me while I try to narrow down who is visiting my site and from where. Google Analytics has been very helpful too.
Are there any personal business strategies you’ve developed with time?
I have taken a consumer-centric approach to my products selection and sourcing. Being there for my customers as much as I can is my personal strategy. I want my customers to know they’re talking to real people when they call or email us.
If there was something you could change about your e-commerce journey so far, what will that be?
Really, I don’t think I would change anything. E-commerce for me has been a long, learning experience, but I believe all businesses are like this. Most or all businesses develop strategies, test them, and measure the results. The strategies either work or they don’t. If they do work, I’ve learned something new and made some headway in my business. If they don’t work, I’ve at least learned what doesn’t work and why. Everything has helped me to lay the foundation for where I am today.
Any advice for upcoming e-commerce entrepreneurs?
Yes. If there’s an idea you want to try, then try it. There is a considerably lower risk with e-commerce than with a brick-and-mortar business, so I encourage fellow entrepreneurs to be adventurous.
About Merchant Stories
Merchant Stories is a blog series by Kudobuzz (a startup that helps you grow your business with social reviews, product listings and AI powered SEO) that highlights the stories of online merchants to give them more exposure and to serve as inspiration for upcoming merchants.
This is the first season in a long running series.
Want to get your story featured? Reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org.