Monday, November 15, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We Are A Cleaner Place

I think you will be surprised that we have more than vacuum cleaners.  This is the merging of two lives and two very divergent careers:  Stephen Fuhrman and Jeanie Jones.

Steve has been in the business of selling vacuums for 25 years.  When we met he had a retail store in Tracy, CA.  He was not happy being in California.  We started making plans for a future that did not include California. 

I have been a therapist for 25 years.  When I met Steve I had been doing contract and consulting work and training and  found that I was much happier being my own boss.  I had moved to California, but was open to other locations. 

We began to aggressively expand Steve’s online business in preparation for a move.  We decided on Oklahoma:  home for Jeanie, closer to Steve’s family in Minnesota, cheaper rent, centrally located.  We got married and made the move to Oklahoma.  

I have chemical sensitivities and had been using non-chemical methods of cleaning and making my own cleaning supplies for years.  Steve sold cleaning products but had never heard of Natural Cleaning Products.  Steve & I got more involved in selling Miele Vacuum Cleaners:  went to some sales meetings, learned more about the products and company, met Nick Ord, President of Miele USA  and we decided to make a shift in products and focus as we made the move to OK. 
Since moving to Oklahoma, we had been growing weary of poor quality, made in China, disposable vacuum cleaners, (filling landfills and making customers grumpy), chemicals that are unhealthy and big box stores that take our money out of Oklahoma, out of the USA and offer poor quality, little to no customer service in return for cheap prices.

Our  goals:
  • ·         Excellent customer service = Engage with the customer, solve their problems, offer quality products and service
  • ·         Eco-friendly products that are sustainable, non-chemical, healthy for families
  • ·         Made in USA, locally or regionally when possible, made in Europe, made by companies that are responsible

With all of this in mind, we are no longer a Vacuum Cleaner Store.  We are A Cleaner Place, where you can buy vacuum cleaners, floor care machines, personal care products, kitchen products, household products all with the above goals in mind. 

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In the Oklahoma City area shop

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Anniversary Celebration

Hey Oklahoma City! We have now been in Oklahoma City for four years and at our present location for one it's time to celebrate.  Come on by for some fun, food, drinks, prizes, discounts, samples, product demonstrations.  Did I mention a Grand Prize that anyone, who comes by, will be eligible to win??  See below for product sponsors.
Anniversary Celebration 
Fri, 11-5-10, 3-6 pm; Sat, 11-6-10, 10 am–2 pm

12409 N Rockwell Ave

  • Green Cleaning Supplies
  • Made in USA products
  • Natural Personal Care Products
  • Vacuum Sales, Service & Supplies
  • Beverages
  • Snacks
  • Product  Demonstrations
  • Special Discounts
  • Awesome Prizes
  • Drawing Every Hour

Host Dry Carpet Cleaning
Dirt Devil

Shop online at In the Oklahoma City area shop

Monday, November 1, 2010

Electrolux unveils five Vacs from the Sea

Electrolux unveils five Vacs from the Sea

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In the Oklahoma City area shop

How to Stay Positive While Running a Retail Business

As we approach the second anniversary in our new location and four years of being in a new state, it was a good time to look at what we’ve accomplished.  Mind you, I did not just come up with the idea of doing this; quite the opposite. 
I am a therapist by profession.  I have spent many years working in direct client contact, managing programs, managing people and training others on how to deal with problem employees, how to assess clients, how to deal with crises, how to prevent suicide, and many more topics.  I delved into the retail world about five years ago when I met my husband and he had a retail store in Tracy, CA. 
Things evolved and we decided to add e-commerce to his business in preparation of moving the business to my home state of Oklahoma, which we did, about four years ago.  I had never run a business before.  He had the knowledge of our products:  Vacuum Cleaners, Floor Cleaning Machines and Cleaning Supplies (although we took a turn toward Natural & Sustainable after I came on board), so we decided my contribution would be managing the business side of it.  OK, less decided and more just evolved. 
All this is to say I was immersed in a world I was really not prepared for.  Running a retail business is hard.  Expanding into e-commerce is harder.  Moving to a new state and having the economy take a big downward spiral just a few months after we opened in OK was nearly more than we could tolerate.  I could go through many scenarios of things that went wrong, including once when our website quit working for several weeks, but the specifics are not as important and it is to say, many things can happen when you are running a business and many of those things happened to us. 
At this point in our business we were struggling to have enthusiasm, even though we were planning to have an anniversary celebration at our store.  Then, I came across Liz Strauss’s
Wow!  Did I need to hear that!  I immediately sent a copy of the blog post with a note, to the other staff members at our company and said, “Wednesday will review.  What has, Inc. accomplished in the last 24 months?”

It was a very productive meeting and all staff members were able to list some accomplishments, including:

o    Moved to a better location
o    Added Kitchen Product Lines
o    Added two new Vacuum Cleaner Product Lines
o    Up-graded our Point of Sale Software
o    Started a second website, highlighting our local store
o    Up-graded our e-commerce website-to-shipping software
o    Began a television ad campaign

After we went through the exercise of looking where we had been, we decided to bring back a technique we had used when we first opened in OK.  We keep a whiteboard “Wish List” for the company.  This includes short-term and long-term goals for equipment, benefits, directions that we would like to see for the company.  We would periodically review it; see what we accomplished, what we want to keep and what we want to add.  It helps to have a visual aid, to let employees know their voices are being heard and for them to think they have a part in deciding in which direction the business is going.

Having a retail business is a struggle every day, especially for the small business owner.  We feel fortunate every month that we are able to pay our bills and keep our doors open.  It is hard to remember that and hard to remember to see what we have accomplished and celebrate our success.  I believe people are put in my life for a reason and I believe being pointed to Liz Strauss’s blog was no accident, but something I needed to read and put into practice.  Thank you Liz and thank you Twitter!

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In the Oklahoma City area shop