On Dec. 24, Angie Whittle will close the doors of her downtown Virden business for the last time and reopen as a mobile store in the new year.
Angie’s Natural Health & More will be operating from a website (still under construction) that will showcase the same health supplements, foods and related products currently in her store. Whittle plans to stock her products at home and deliver them to Virden customers, thereby saving on overhead.
Many entrepreneurs would find such a major change in business model daunting, but Whittle says she feels good about it, mainly because it will give her more time at home with her three sons, all under age 10.
“When I got the store, I went from stay-at-home mom to being here at the store a lot. They (the boys) are excited I’m going to be home and they don’t have to spend every after-school at the store!”
As the retail sector fights to stay vibrant downtown, some will no doubt blame shoppers for not supporting local business.
But Whittle says, “It was a decision about quality of life. Saving on overhead was part of it, but it’s more about family and flexibility and learning new things.”
The store she opened in August 2017 was only in business a month when the disastrous downtown fire caused severe smoke damage to her stock and interior.
Undaunted, Whittle cleaned and redecorated the store, giving it her own flare. She restocked and reopened in February of this year.
Now, just ten months later with another big change coming, she’s looking forward to having more freedom and flexibility in her life.
“I’ve never done any selling online other than swap ‘n shop sites on Facebook. But I’m always willing to learn something new,” she says with a smile.
Something Whittle learned several years ago at Assiniboine Community College is coming in handy now.
She’s building her own website using skills gained in ACC’s web design course. “I couldn’t find a website template I liked so I said, ‘No, I’m going to do it myself.’”
The move to online marketing (using the same business name, Angie’s Natural Health & More) will allow her clientele to let their fingers do the walking through her product selection and place orders by phone, email, or Messenger, getting free delivery to Virden addresses.
So is she sorry she didn’t launch her business online in the first place, given everything that’s happened?
“No, I’d do it all over again; it’s been good being here and meeting people. I’ve gained confidence with it. If I had started online, I wouldn’t have that confidence now.”
Nor would she have a dedicated customer base that, so far, seems willing to follow her onto the web. The last day for her physical store will be Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.