A Simpler Time, LLC- Ripon, WI

by admins on December 12, 2008

Shop: A Simpler Time, LLC     

Owner/Proprietor: Judy Janzen

 

 214 Jefferson St
Ripon, WI 54971
(920) 748-5793

 

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Q&W:

How did you get started in retail/having your own shop?

 

Judy:

Owning my own business was always a dream of mine. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and very creative, hard working people….I’ve had some pretty good role models in my life. I’m a person that likes to be challenged and my career choices have always done that.

 

I had 3 career choices that I wanted to be successful at in my life and have to say I’ve been blessed to have been able to achieve them. My first was in Cosmetology ( hairstylist), my second as an Histology Technician (Pathology) and now as a business owner.

 

Q&W:

How long has your shop been open?

 

Judy:

We opened in May, 2001 and are now into our 8th year of business.

 

Q&W:

What type of experience are your customers looking for when they come to your shop?

 

Judy:

Our customer for the most part looks for made in the U.S.A. They love the warm, yummy and welcoming friendly aspect that historic decorating be it primitive, colonial, or folk art promotes. They love the sharing of ideas. The quality of the work our craftsmen put into creating such great pieces for them to purchase and decorate their homes with. The list goes on and on…..

 

 

 

Q&W:

Do you establish friendly relationships with your customers?

 

Judy:

YES!!! How can you not… the people who create and decorate with this look are like family. They are some of the nicest and warmest people you will ever meet. If so, is that important? It’s very important!! It broadens your thinking….it helps with your creativity….it challenges you to always be looking for new ideas and new product. It also makes you challenge your vendors to make new and improved yummy goodies.

 

Q&W:

What advantages do you believe a small country shop has over large shops?

 

Judy: Ahhhhh, we don’t have that cookie cutter look. We offer goods that you can’t find just anywhere by some of the best craftsmen in the nation. We offer goodies that are original. We take the time to offer lots of free decorating suggestions. We take the time to educate and be educated. We offer a warm and friendly shopping experience…..

 

Q&W:

Do you have a guiding philosophy?

 

Judy:

Treat people like you’d want to be treated! Listen to your customer.

 

Q&W:

Do you have any advice for shop owners & artisans on weathering a poor economy?

 

Judy:

I wish I did….But there is no magic wand out there to wave, we all have to look at our own personal business and tweak it accordingly. It’s not easy and something we need to do on an on going basis. It’s something I’m learning as I go.

 

Q&W:

What are some effective (& economical) ways to let customers know about your shop?

 

Judy:

If you have a website….link with your vendors and other shops if you can. Know your customer base and advertise in those areas to remind them that you’re still around with eye catching ads. I’m a big believer in word of mouth so create a great shopping experience for your customer so they are excited to tell others about your shop.

 

 

Q&W:

We have heard time & time again, that during this tender economy, handcrafted goods are still selling strong.  Has this been true for you & if so, why do you believe customers are paying more for Made in USA versus imports?

 

Judy:

It’s true to an extent for us.  Our customer is either saving and buying that one big yummy item and none of the accents or they are buying the accents and not  spending the money on the bigger pieces right now. Either way I think there has been such bad press about imports lately that the customer is realizing the value of made in the U.S.A. Besides, they are creating an heirloom for the future by buying something made well by American craftsmen.

 

Q&W:

Please describe your shop, what makes it unique?

 

Judy:

Our shop is in an 1863 stone house so I think we’re able to display our product so that our customer can visualize how the product might fit into their own home. Everything we have in our shop from the paint on the walls to the curtains on the windows and the rugs on the floors, and the lights hanging from the ceilings, we sell. We take the time to greet each and every customer and we try to educate them on our product lines.

 

Q&W:

What is your decorating style?

 

Judy:

My personal decorating style is 1800’s antiques with some reproductions in the mix. Primitive and what I call primitive colonial. My store is Primitives, some colonial, and folk art. We are 85% made in the U.S of A.

 

 

Q&W:

Why do you think staging or creating vignettes are important? 

 

Judy:

It’s sooooo important. It helps the customer visualize and it broadens their thinking. Makes them think outside the box so to speak. We tend to throw things together that most people would never think of doing.  It’s because we want the customer to realize that you can mix it up a bit. Have some fun with your new treasures and experiment!

 

Q&W:

Is it important to love what you do/buy?

 

Judy:

It helps to at least like if not love what you do/ buy. We have to remember it’s not about us even though we spend more time at our businesses then at our own homes. What appeals to our personal decorating styles does not necessarily appeal to our customers. I like everything in my store.

 

Q&W:

What makes an artist stand out in your mind?

 

Judy:

One that offers great quality, a great unique look, a halfway affordable price ( I say this because I know that good craftsmen never get the price their time is worth), and offers great customer service.  Personally, you can have the best product out there and if you have crappy customer service you have just lost my business or will never have it. I want the best for my customers and I want an artist who appreciates me as a buyer of their product.

 

Q&W:

What American handcraft sells well in your shop?

 

Judy:

Just about any made in the U.S.A. sells well in our shop. It’s what we promote and what we educate our customers on. Right now the hot stuff is wovens, dolls, lighting, smaller homemade goods and some of the smaller cupboards.

 

Q&W:

What is your philosophy on Keystoning hand-made items versus imported items?

 

Judy:

Why wouldn’t you at least keystone hand made items? In my eyes they have more value because they are handmade and in some cases one of a kinds and not mass produced like imports. Only you know what your customer(s) are willing to spend on an item. Price accordingly.

 

Q&W:

Do you have any advice for making creative displays in a shop?

 

Judy:

Be inventive. Plant the seed of ideas into your customers’ minds.

 

Q&W:

How do you find good American artists/vendors?

 

Judy:

I hunt and hunt and hunt. I go to trade shows. I look on the internet. I look through publications. I listen, I ask.

 

Q&W:

What do you think American artisans/venders can do to make themselves more marketable/sellable?

 

Judy:

This may or may not be a suggestion……one thing I would like to see is the American artisans/vendors be more selective as to who they are selling their goods to. It’s very disheartening as a shop owner to find the product that you’ve searched so hard for, being sold on e-bay, at flea markets, people selling out of their houses to friends, etc for little mark up (as they don’t have the overhead that we do). There is NO way we can compete with that and as a result, we end up dropping your product in our stores and look for other vendors that have something different to offer us, that we’re not seeing everywhere. I know there is no great answer to this…..if someone has a tax number….they should at least have a brick and mortar store.  Because in the end, everyone looses.  To those vendors out there that do look out for us store owners (AND you do know who you are!!!) We love ya and truly appreciate everything that you do for the shop owner. We know it’s no easy task, but, we truly appreciate the time and effort that you take trying to protect us.

 

Some artisans/vendors could try to produce and ship their product in a more timely manner. If you can’t meet your ship times, be honest or don’t over book yourself. It’s tough placing an order at market in Feb and not seeing your product at all or maybe a year later. It makes it hard to manage cash flow and it makes us look bad to our customers when we are talking up your new product and we don’t get it in a timely manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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