The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Sep. 12 2014, 7:44 AM EDT
In early September, The Globe and Mail's Report on Small Business asked readers to nominate their favourite small businesses for our inaugural #remarkablebiz contest. We received over 120 nominations, not to mention hundreds of retweets. Following the initial nomination stage, we posted 65 semi-finalists to our Pinterest board and the community was given the opportunity to vote through Pins, likes and comments. We took your votes into consider when preparing the top-ten list.
Elevator pitch: Founded in Montreal in April 2014, Changeroo.ca is an online store for used, like-new children’s clothing that is quickly becoming popular with parents, fashionistas, frugal shoppers, as well as ethically and environmentally conscious consumers. We provide high quality, top name brand clothing at low prices as an alternative to buying cheaply made “fast-fashion”. We sell our clothing at 75 per cent off the new ticket price and offer store credits in exchange for pre-loved children’s clothing in perfect condition. Items that do not meet the stipulated quality standards are donated to charity.
Secret sauce: Closets don’t grow – kids do. Every parent must contend with storing many boxes of outgrown children’s clothing, either to be passed on or thrown out. Recognizing this to be a common problem for parents, Changeroo offers an uncommon solution. Changeroo accepts clothing in like-new condition in exchange for store credits to shop for a new wardrobe. Changeroo.ca provides a no-risk online shopping experience, as well as fast, friendly and helpful customer service. It’s also a fun, thrill-of-the-hunt shopping experience, as new items are added daily.
Culture: Changeroo.ca is run and operated solely by its owner, Liane Guimond. Everything from website management, content, photography, social media, advertising, sorting, buying, and customer service is handled personally by Guimond.
Challenge: Advertising on a small budget. Getting the word out and drawing customers to the store on a dime has been difficult. So far, social media has been the most successful means of doing this. Social media has taken the “word of mouth” approach to great levels. Customers trust referrals from friends and family more than what they read in advertising, so it’s important to make a great impression and stay visible in social media platforms. It’s been vital to get a lot of “likes” and “shares” online.
Advice: Hold back on advertising spending initially. Don’t pay a considerable amount on advertising until you have worked out the essential details of how you will run your business. After opening your business, you may decide to approach certain operations differently, put particular business policies in place, or even just change the look of your website. You only have one chance to make a good first impression, so make it count. It’s best to open “soft” and work out any bugs before you spend a large amount of money on advertising.
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