By Caroline McMillan Portillo
The Charlotte Observer.
Entrepreneurs Deborah Harley and her 22-year-old daughter, Sarah-Grace, started 2014 with a bold promise made possible by a new business model.
In mid-December, the pair closed their brick-and-mortar operation in Gastonia, N.C., a 2,200-square-foot storefront half dedicated to consignment children’s clothing, called The Bunny Patch, and half dedicated to monogrammed gear, called Wardrobe Btq.
They moved to an online-only monogram-shop operation, with a 450-square-foot office to work from and hold inventory, including T-shirts, purses, sunglasses, makeup bags and sunhats.
And they promised customers that their turnaround time of 10 business days would now be cut to seven.
Whether you’re a small-business owner or a Fortune 500 executive, making good on a promise is a high stakes games with big rewards, experts say. And Deborah and Sarah-Grace’s commitment to cut customers’ wait time by nearly half was a big commitment.
But with a good plan, Deborah Harley said, it can work out well.
The orders are streaming in, and out, faster than ever, the Harleys said. Word of mouth is generating a bigger customer base every week.
They say having more orders helps them maintain their low prices. And the local faithful who still miss the personal interaction of the shop are warming up to the idea of shopping in pajamas with a guarantee for faster service.
“Everybody is so busy now and, unfortunately, can’t plan like they used to,” Deborah Harley said. “If I buy something, I want it yesterday, especially if it’s a gift.”
Deborah Harley, 55, started The Bunny Patch children’s consignment shop in 2008.
After a couple of years, she began selling a few items that could be monogrammed, and her friend, Jewell, would complete the orders. The monogrammed shirts, bags and accessories were a hit, so the Harleys gradually dedicated more and more of the shop to them, dubbing that operation the Wardrobe Btq., short for boutique.