Cloquet businesses take virtual success to storefronts
"What we hear is that a lot of folks do their sales online ... but the presence of the storefront is super important to have people come and test things out," said Holly Hansen, community development director for the city of Cloquet.
CLOQUET — Some small-business owners are using the internet as a platform to build a successful enterprise before opening a storefront.
Within the last year, Cloquet welcomed Garden Isle Bath & Body and Abundant Baby to its retail ranks. Both businesses were operating online before their owners decided to move their operations to storefronts.
Jenna Gilbert co-owns Abundant Baby with her mother, Colleen Sunnarborg, and sister, Bethany Sunnarborg. The trio spent a year selling their products online and at vendor shows before settling on a storefront to rent at 708 Sunnyside Dr.
Their decision to open the store sprang from a desire to spend less time traveling and more time with their families. Abundant Baby offers clothing for children and mothers, as well as toys, books and more.
For Cori and Craig Beck, moving Garden Isle Bath & Body to the space at 807 Cloquet Ave., Suite 1, wasn't a new experience; the couple had a storefront for the business when they lived in Hawaii.
However, after moving back to Cloquet to be closer to family, they found their home was getting a bit crowded with supplies and inventory of their homemade skincare products.
"We were utilizing my entire garage for storage and two spare rooms ... so I was kind of pushing for a storefront to get everything moved out," Craig told the Pine Journal last summer.
Both Abundant Baby and Garden Isle Bath & Body continue to sell their products online.
One benefit to sticking with online sales is the reach proprietors can have with their business.
While many of the customers who visit Abundant Baby in-person live in Carlton County, Gilbert said customers who purchase items online live elsewhere.
"Our online sales are definitely further (away) — places where we have to ship, but I’d say the people that have come in the store are within the area. I’ve had a few customers comment saying it’s definitely worth a drive from Duluth," she said.
While the internet still remains vital for many business owners who take the leap to opening a brick and mortar storefront, they see other benefits in having a storefront they can't necessarily get with only a web presence, said Holly Hansen, community development director for the city of Cloquet.
"What we hear is that a lot of folks do their sales online, and the storefront piece of it is sometimes less than their sales are online, but the presence of the storefront is super important to have people come and test things out," Hansen said.
She used Sara's Vac Shack in Cloquet as an example.
"They started online many years ago, and their storefront is just fantastic. They have a ton of sales online, a huge piece of their business is online, but the storefront is really important. It’s a great place to showcase different products and offer servicing of those vacuums," she said.
Search commercial properties that are for sale or for rent in Cloquet by visiting www.cloqueteda.com and selecting "Sites and Buildings" under the Sites and Buildings tab.
For more information, contact Holly Hansen at 218-879-2507, ext. 4 or firstname.lastname@example.org.