Online Retail Success in New Ulm Minnesota

Last summer I blogged about some e-commerce classes I was teaching in New Ulm, Minnesota. The quick refresher: New Ulm is a Get Broadband community. They got money from the Blandin Foundation to boost broadband use in their area. They decided to focus on retail businesses. They improved their Chamber web site and offered training to retailers on:

  1. Building a web site
  2. Marketing a web site
  3. Selling online

I thought the classes went really well – mostly because I think they were super practical and hands on when possible. Well, I just got a great note from one of the attendees today:

Stained Glass This is Mark and Suzie from Stained Glass and More. We attended your classes in New Ulm last summer. Your advice helped get our website rolling. In the 2 years before we met you, we never sold more than $500 in windows off of the site, the last 6 months we have not been under $10,000!!!(monthly sales)

I wanted to share this because I think it helps to quantify the value of a community-wide broadband/internet plan. These guys had a site, they just needed help tweaking it for search engines and marketing but through tools provided from their community they have been able to make a real success of their online business. In fact they are so successful that they started a new venture The Eclectic Company, which sells garden ornaments and accessories.

It’s not bleeding edge broadband-heavy applications but just a nice story on how the Internet helped one company in one rural community. As I recall 20-30 people attended those classes, imagine the revenue pouring into town if half the attendees had half the success of Mark and Suzie. That might be optimistic but I have heard from others from the class and they are maintaining their new sites, they are making changes and it is bringing in business.

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