Jasper, Indiana (May 4, 2023) – Welcome back to Connected Nation’s Small Business Week blog series. Today, we return to Jasper, Indiana, and the retail industry to speak with a business owner who is a stone’s throw away from our first featured company, American Mercantile. Connected Nation spoke with Donna Buehler, a busy grandmother of 16 and owner of women’s boutique, Just Whimsy.
Just Whimsy opened in downtown Jasper in October 2010, right in the sweet spot of the technology boom. Online business resources have grown exponentially since then.
For most of Just Whimsy’s lifespan, Donna has chosen to advertise the business the old-fashioned way through traditional media and word-of-mouth. While this is the opposite of American Mercantile’s strategy, Just Whimsy has thrived due to Donna’s community connections and the store’s great reputation in the southwest Indiana area.
As times have changed, so has Just Whimsy. Donna Buehler may be 40 years older than American Mercantile founder Broc Litherland, but her adaptation to digital business trends has been comparable.
Donna was asked, “What aspects of your digital business have grown in the last 8 to 10 years?” She replied, “We have grown our profiles on Facebook and Instagram as well as using multiple generations of the Square point-of-sale software.”
Like American Mercantile, being able to navigate and use the Square software is vital for Just Whimsy. Having the ability to digitally manage finances, organize inventory and purchases allows Donna more time to visit wholesale apparel markets, grow a consumer base, and prepare the store for shoppers.
When it comes to digital literacy, it is not always about mastering the newest and the most complex innovations. Computer basics such as email are still powerhouse tools for many small businesses.
Just Whimsy covers all bases as far as communicating with its target markets. As mentioned previously, Donna and her team post consistently on social media. They also employ an email marketing program that is run through Square. This service prompts customers to enter their email following purchases, and then will notify customers about sales, new products, and general alerts.
As for the future of her business, Donna plans to retain and cater to the local market while also expanding certain services to prospective out-of-town customers. Her goal is to “build a full online marketplace to satisfy the demand for women’s clothing and home goods to a bigger market.”
This growth strategy demonstrates the importance of digital literacy. Just Whimsy is now at the fingertips and on the timelines of its entire target market. Donna doesn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on radio and billboard advertising when she can directly communicate with hundreds of customers daily for free.
Technology and the internet seem daunting from afar, yet once the barriers of the Digital Divide are broken down, these things simplify and advance our personal and professional lives. Connected Nation strives for every person to experience equal accessibility and confidence in all online practices. That’s why we offer free training in communities like Jasper. A few months ago, Connected Nation’s Wes Kerr hosted a Digital Literacy and Listening Tour at the Warren County Public Library, which covered Gmail basics. Here is a link for more information on DLL Tours powered by AT&T, https://connectednation.org/digital-literacy-workshops/.
Stories and testimonials from entrepreneurs like Donna show current and future business owners the vast potential of the internet. Check in with Connected Nation tomorrow as we are back in the Bluegrass State to follow up with Antonio Zamora and learn about his other family business, Que Pasa Tacos in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Past National Small Business Week blogs:
About the Author: Grant Ahlbrand is a Marketing and Communications Intern at Connected Nation. He is a senior at Western Kentucky University, where he is majoring in social media marketing.
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