Grove and Grotto Fall 2016 update
Posted by Michelle Gruben on
Greetings from your favorite Faery Pagan online boutique! The weather's finally getting cooler here in Texas. We're moving into Samhain season--or, in some traditions, the end of the Pagan year. It feels like a good time to take a minute and update you all on what Grove and Grotto has been up to in 2016:
I've made a lot of small but constructive changes to the online store. Taking new photos, fleshing out product descriptions, updating checkout and navigation, and writing regular blog articles. The goal is to make the site as easy to use as possible for you, our visitors. And to make sure the information here accurately reflects the products that we sell. Inventory comes and goes, but we now regularly have over 600 items listed in the online shop.
Through the Articles section of this website, I've revealed many of my personal views and experiences related to magick. Though I'm quite shy about my own practice, I've also added more personal information to the About Us page so you can get to know your shop fairy better.
Yes, we still list items on eBay! We plan to keep a core catalog of about 250 best-selling items on the popular listing site. But since 2015, our focus has been on moving more and more of our inventory to our own online store space.
eBay has become increasingly unfriendly to small business owners, preferring to deal with overseas sellers and large-scale liquidators. It's also running on dated and bug-prone software. These limitations of eBay's seller tools lead to customer service hassles that we just don't have with our own e-commerce store, which runs on the Shopify platform.
Our eBay and PayPal fees also total around 15% of the sale price of items sold on eBay. We've found that we can offer better prices and service to our customers here, while maintaining more control over how our items are displayed.
New Product Lines
One of the most time-consuming (but fun!) aspects of my job is searching for new products that my customers will enjoy. Some new product ideas come from my own preferences. Many come from suggestions from customers, who tell me they've looked everywhere but just can't find "x". (We also listen to negative feedback from customers. If a certain product gets more than its share of returns or lackluster reviews, out it goes.)
What kinds of things does Grove and Grotto stock? Quality things that inspire magickal thoughts. Unique things that aren't in every witchy shop across the country. Things that humans may not completely understand, but faery folk will snap up in a heartbeat.
As I've pursued this goal at Grove and Grotto, I've seen my reliance on the major Pagan/New Age wholesalers diminish, and a whole constellation of suppliers take their place.
Here are a few of my favorite new items from 2016:
Real 100% silk squares for wrapping Tarot and crystals.
Miniature fairy spoons.
In the Workshop
One of the questions I get the most is, "Do you make everything in your shop?" Books, jewelry, candles, boxes, incense, clothing knives...it'd be very impressive indeed if I made everything!
While having a 100% homemade shop isn't feasible, I do like to put some handmade offerings in the mix. (And improve those offerings all the time.) In September 2016, I began taking private lessons from a master woodturner--hopefully that will result in some excellent new magickal wands and other wood items. I'm also taking ceramics this fall, in hopes of one day having fired clay chalices, scrying bowls, and offering bowls to present to you here.
Part of being a online retailer is making your photos, ads, and website look snazzy. I confess that this is one of the hardest things for me. I don't have any photography or digital design training. (I'm from the web 1.0 era, when websites could be ugly and still be popular!) But I do my best to keep Grove and Grotto visually appealing. Magickal people are often artistic people, after all, and I want everything about my store--from the website to the packaging--to be pleasing to the eye.
The only way to get better is with practice, of course. So I've been working hard in my free time to level up my product photography and digital design skills. I've also arranged to (legally) use the work of freelance photographers and artists when images I've produced just won't do.
While numerous people have advised me to ditch the "unprofessional" seaglass color on my website, I'm a stubborn water faery and I'm keeping it.
Whew! 2016 has been our busiest year yet for fairs and festivals...and it's not over yet. It was our first time camping with Council of Magickal Arts, one of the oldest and largest Pagan groups in the South. It's also the first year we've worked at three Pagan Pride/Pagan Unity events: Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin. (We'll see you next time, San Antonio! Watch out, Greater New Orleans--we're coming for you!)
We absolutely love festival time as a chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones from the folks who stop by our booth. Our festival appearances offer one-off creations and bargain-priced merchandise, in addition to selections from the online store.
It's important to us to help build Pagan communities. It's not enough for Pagans to have stuff to shop for--we also need places to go, things to read, and people to talk to.
In 2016, Grove and Grotto sponsored The Wild Hunt, the most comprehensive and trusted Pagan news source on the web. We also helped support print media by placing paid ads in Witches & Pagans magazine.
Locally, I lend our full-throated support to those brave souls organizing events for the benefit of the Pagan and magickal communities. Event fees, sponsorship and prize donations help keep these activities operating in the black. I'm also happy to volunteer when my talents are suitable. (This fall, I designed the graphic for the Council of Magickal Arts Samhain gathering!)
As Grove and Grotto comes of age, we hope to be able to offer even more participation and support to Pagans near and far.
More Positive Changes
Other Grove and Grotto news I'm proud of from 2016:
Excellent package delivery stats. We've noticed a drastic decrease in missing packages over the past two years. Fewer than 1 in 1000 of our packages get lost. The Postal Service tells us it's because they've improved their tracking system. Whatever they're doing, we hope they keep it up!
Eliminating Chinese-made jewelry. Grove and Grotto only carries metal jewelry made in the US, Canada, and UK in our online store. Read more about this important decision here.
Monthly free Tarot reading. Every Full Moon, I do a free general Tarot reading for my Facebook followers. (Or oracle deck reading, or rune reading...sometimes I mix it up.) If it pops up in your feed, then you know the oracle was meant for you.
June 2016 marked our two-year anniversary of Grove and Grotto. We are so grateful to each of our customers! May you continue to visit and trust us with your magickal shopping.
Owner and Shop Fairy
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