The owner of a company I recently featured in Learning from Big Boys in the blog post Lessons on Retailing: Demory’s Christmas Memories contacted me through Facebook that after celebrating 10 years in business, he had to announce that the business is for sale.
Their Christmas business operated one store in Maryland. They have a web presence, but more of a very simple (even amateurish-looking) Web site that merely advertises the store. They do not use the Web as an additional sales channel.
After 10 years of doing good business in their Hagertown, Maryland location, fate gave them a low blow last year.
A one-lane bridge near the store was closed in August 2008 for repairs, detouring traffic. The bridge closure dramatically reduced the number of cars passing their road. With fewer cars, their sales plummeted. Even Quiznos in the same area complained in a news article that their sales were down 50% because of the bridge closure.
The business has fought the county on getting a temporary bridge put in to at least ensure the continuous flow of traffic. The state actually approved it but the County Commisioners voted it down.
And what could be worse than a Christmas store not being accessible in the months leading to the Christmas season?
The bridge reopened on Dec. 21, 2008 but by then the damage to the business has been done. Sales dropped and cashflow became so tight. They explored the option of moving the store to another location, but they were not able to secure financing. Unable to run the store any longer, the owners then decided to sell their well established Christmas store.
I have not seen the financials of the business, so I am not really privy to what went down. But one area that they should have pursued was to use the Web to sell their products. They should have opened an ecommerce store that allow them to sell to a wider customer base. Given this day and age of shopping online, failure to tap the Web as a selling channel can be huge kiss of death. Even with the reduced foot traffic, they could have maintained their sales through their ecommerce store.
But now the business is for sale. It’s sad that a once-successful business suddenly found itself with hardly any customers because their location became inaccessible.
What could they have done to save the store?