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Running an Online Store: A Family Business

The Fiscal Cliff Sale

We’ve got a little sale going at The Youth Cartel store, having fun with this fiscal cliff silliness in the news. If you’ve seen stuff that we’re doing and wanted to check it out, this is a great time to do that while saving a little money. Discounts start when you buy $20 in stuff. And the discounts get better with the more you spend. Pretty simple and fun. 

Running an Online Store

I started the Cartel store a little over a year ago and it’s steadily grown. At first we had spurts of orders, like when a new product released or something like that. We’d have 20 in one day and then none for several days. Now we get 5-15 orders per day during the week and 1-2 on weekends. It’s not a lot but it is a part of every day. With our publishing line growing in 2013 I expect we’ll see that double again.

Literally, when you place an order, the McLane family takes it from there. (It doesn’t go to some third-party company to get packed up by people in a warehouse. We’re a family business.)

I print the order, one of the kids goes to the hallway closet, finds the books, and packs the order. They bring it back, I weigh it, and print out the postage label. Each day I either schedule a USPS pick-up or I drive the days orders over to the post office. Sometimes I make a morning and afternoon run to the post office.

On top of that, we keep the books on the store, manage the inventory, purchase shipping supplies, and we’ve develop relationships with our various suppliers.

The Kids are Learning

My goal is always that the kids will eventually fully run the store. It’s well within their capabilities to pack and ship orders. (And at $.50 per box it’s a nice steady stream of income.)

This week, I added to Megan’s duties as she’s now in charge of keeping inventory, updating a Google Docs spreadsheet, and alerting me of things which are low so I can re-order them. She gets it. Supply & demand. She pointed out that we need this sale to work well because we have too much of some books.

Next, they will learn how to weigh packages and print shipping labels. And after that I will teach them how to re-order shipping stuff themselves.

Here’s the thing: They do a great job. I consistently get good feedback on our orders. And people love getting the little toys/treats Megan and Paul stuff in the boxes. And they really like contributing to the family business. It’s fun for them.

It cracks me up a little when people quip about child labor laws and all that stuff. (We’re totally legal, by the way.) To me? It’s the other kids that are missing out. We’re having a blast with it and I love seeing the business grow with their capabilities. Heck, I’m looking forward to one of them coming up with our next great idea!

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5 Responses to Running an Online Store: A Family Business

  1. Carl Fuglein December 12, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Adam- And the most important thing is – YOUR FAMILY built that, not the government. Your kids are lucky to have such an enlightened dad, teaching them how to build a business. I’m proud of you. And I love my bug.

  2. Mike Henry December 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    I placed and order just now- may I request a drawing of a space monkey fighting a dragon drawn by your children?

    • Adam McLane December 12, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      I mentioned that to Paul. He is a capitalist…

  3. Joel Mayward December 12, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    This is so deeply empowering to children, helping them learn how to actually, you know, DO stuff. You rock. And so do your kiddos.

    • Adam McLane December 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

      Paul learned two things this week from work.
      1. Don’t ever go into debt. Working off $15 so he could buy a video game isn’t nearly as fun as getting paid every day. (Got it down to $3.50 though!)
      2. Do it right the first time.

      Pretty priceless stuff there. Wish I learned that at 9.

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