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Winthrop Mountain Sports has gone 40 years without selling outdoor gear online. Even the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t changed the owner’s plans. But the forest fire happened.
Tourists flock to Winthrop, a few hours’ drive east of Seattle, to ski, hike, or drive through a scenic stretch of the Cascade Mountains. Like many outdoor recreation stores, sales at Winthrop Mountain Sports have been steady for most of the pandemic.
Marine Bjornsen, one of the store’s owners and a former elite skier and swimmer, told me there are no plans to sell the products online for now. “It’s something we want to do, but we don’t think we’ll be able to do it this year,” she said. “Then the fire came.”
In the past month, two major wildfires have isolated Winthrop from the world and left the valley in flames. The store is still open but doesn’t sell much other than discounted firefighter boots and shirts. Bjornsen said sales fell about 80% in July compared with the same month in past years.
Less than two weeks ago, Winthrop Mountain Sports began selling products on its website to reach customers who can’t or won’t go to the store – go slow with a few categories at first to see how it goes. how it works. That makes Winthrop Mountain Sports a test of how to start an e-commerce site in 2021, during the dual crisis of pandemics and wildfires.
One of the topics I keep coming back to is the nuanced ways in which technology makes things better and worse for business owners, a teacher, a rabbi, and others. the rest of us. Selling online presents Bjornsen with new opportunities to boost her business, but it also poses new burdens and puts her store in direct competition with outdoor gear sellers. on the internet – including giants like Amazon and REI.
The good news is that starting an e-commerce site has never been easier. Trapped inside for the fresh air, Bjornsen says she took her time adding product images and descriptions to the Winthrop Mountain Sports website.
It helped the store used software from a company called Lightspeed to track inventory. If Bjornsen sells 10 pairs of hiking boots in the store, she wouldn’t be wrong to sell them online either. This isn’t strange, no, but a lot of small business owners don’t have the time, money, or expertise to get to grips with the tech basics.
Bjornsen says she and her staff are still learning how to run a store and run an online business at the same time. For each online order, they must manually enter the weight and dimensions, attach a shipping label, and ship the package out with UPS or another service. Bjornsen says she delivered some orders herself at a delivery depot on her way home. She and her staff also talk through questions with people who want to order online.
Bjornsen says it’s too early to know how the store’s finances might be affected if more of its sales move from direct sales to the website. “It was a lot of work,” she said. “The profit will be less, but it is better not to sell.”
Selling online allows the store to reach customers in new ways, and many expect to be able to shop online, she said, but Winthrop Mountain Sports won’t exist as an online-only store. “We have a store and a community around us,” she said.
Marine and Erik Bjornsen took a break from skiing and moved from Alaska in December, after they and others bought Winthrop Mountain Sports from its longtime owner. To put it mildly, this is an unpredictable period for running a retail store for the first time.
“If we were in business for 10 years, one summer wouldn’t seem like a big deal,” she said. “You can become a little more classy. But since we don’t have it, it’s a bit stressful.” Bjornsen says she hopes “we’ll have a nice winter and forget about this.”
Tip of the week
Store your digital vaccination records
With more businesses demanding proof of vaccination against Covid-19, our consumer technology column Brian X. Chen Step-by-step instructions for keeping a digital vaccination record within easy reach of your phone:
In California, I recently requested my digital immunization records from the California Department of Public Health. (How to claim varies from state to state – check your health department’s website for instructions.)
After entering my information, I received a text message with a link to a QR code, a type of digital barcode, containing information about my vaccination record. From here, I had to figure out the best way to save barcodes on my phone.
I conclude that the fastest method is to take a screenshot of the recording and attach that image to the note. This way I can find my vaccination records by keyword search or by scrolling through my notes app.
Here’s how to do it:
When the image editing toolbar appears, tap the button in the upper right corner that looks like a square with an arrow pointing up. In the row of apps, swipe to the Notes app, and select it. Here, save the image to a new note.
On Android phones:
(My colleague JD Biersdorfer was More tips on carrying proof of vaccine on your phoneand The Washington Post has another helpful guide.)
Before we go…
Are you eager to join a virtual reality working meeting? Mark Zuckerberg says you are. My colleague Mike Isaac tried it out and explained Facebook’s belief in VR and “the technology that gives you this sense of presence”.
Help inform Afghans, at their own risk: Rest of World is about a company called Ehtesab in Kabul that creates smartphone alerts to notify people of bomb blasts, traffic jams, power shortages, and other problems. The founder, Sara Wahedi, worries that the nature of the service makes Ehtesab employees targets for a Taliban crackdown.
How do you prove an illegal monopoly? In June, a judge told the US government it needed to show evidence that Facebook had a large share of the social network. The Federal Trade Commission restarted its antitrust case on Thursday, and my colleague Cecilia Kang noted that it can be difficult to apply US law to areas of technology where dominance is not. necessarily easily identifiable.
Puppy in the stroller! Puppy! In a trolley!
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