“At first, I ran the business from my home and took my products on the road by traveling to gift shows,” Cox recalls. “I still go to shows, but now I’m running an online and brick-and-mortar business year-round.”
In 2018, Cox hoped to increase business and stay close to the farming community where she grew up. She scouted possible retail locations, eventually purchasing a building rather than leasing it.
“In the areas where I looked, the rent was about $3,000 a month. I thought, ‘For that kind of money, I should probably own the place rather than make somebody else rich’.”
Her gamble came with risks, as the property needed extensive renovation before customers could enter the shop. Focused on the physical building, Cox didn’t give much thought to offering her products online. In November 2018, Country Friends of Ohio opened in West Liberty’s downtown “Graystone” building.
At the time, Cox wasn’t processing credit card sales. She also used an old-fashioned spreadsheet to track inventory–that meant a lot of work at the close of each business day.
Then, in Spring 2020, Cox was hit with a new challenge: “My business was deemed non-essential during the pandemic, and I had to close my doors indefinitely. That’s when I finally got the online store up and running.”
With nearly 700 items in her inventory, Cox knew she needed a reliable, cost-effective, easy-to-implement system. Thanks to a savvy friend, Cox connected with a Clover rep based in California. “I had to start taking credit cards, and I started with Clover Go because I was working remotely and selling online exclusively.”
When the brick-and-mortar shop reopened, Cox found additional capabilities that made Clover indispensable for her growing business. “I delved more into the system and found out that I can do it all through Clover,” she explains, “which was lifesaving for me.”
For Cox, finding items that delight customers and add a personal touch to their homes is deeply rewarding. “They come in, maybe with something specific in mind. Everyone has a budget to work from. We start talking about their ideas and their budget, and I help them pick items and think about how to make them work in their house. It’s really a personal shopping experience because I’m very one-on-one with my customers.”
Cox notes that visitors to her West Liberty location are impressed with her command of the Clover Station Pro. “I never touch a customer’s card. It never leaves their possession, which is reassuring. They specify the type of receipt they want. The process is completely transparent.”
Whenever local entrepreneurs approach Cox for insight, she is quick to champion Clover’s flexible efficiency. “Everything’s done in real time. If I want category sales over the last six months, I just enter the criteria into my system, and Clover generates a report. It’s absolutely great. Paying the monthly sales tax, same thing. I run a report through Clover. It has streamlined everything for me.”
With her kids now in their 20s and her business thriving, Cox enjoys more balance in her daily routine. Her boundless passion, eye for beauty, and swift adaptive skills proved the saving grace during some tough times.
Business owners like Cox rely on Clover for secure transactions, efficient inventory management, and more innovative solutions. Read more of our merchants’ personal stories.
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