There are a number of factors that go into valuing a business. These are widely known – financial trending, margins, traffic, proprietary tech – but in an industry that is barely 35 years old AGE is also big factor. In this case of Art Cove the business has been around for 50-years, first trading as a retailer in Queens before moving online in 1999. In 2015 they shot the store and now trade exclusively online, both direct and via core marketplaces.
In this Seller Interview we speak with Josh Simone from ArtCove. He takes us through the history as well as their marketplace expansion.
1. The business is 50-years-old. How has it changed in that time?
We started off in 1971 as a brick and mortar art supplies store. After some time we added craft supplies to our store. The business took off with the newly added craft supplies. As time went by, big box stores moved in so we shifted to eCommerce starting our website artcove.com in 1999. At first, instant success but then things started getting more competitive.
In 2014 we started selling on eBay. And in 2015 we started selling on Amazon. We did $200,000 in our first full year on Amazon, with little to no effort, we listed just a few products. In 2018 we expanded to Walmart, Etsy and started building a new website with Shopify giving us the ability to sell across Facebook and Google also. These projects are fairly new but show great promise. Like all great business you must change with the time and we have done this many times through 50 years of trade.
2. You’ve expanded to all marketplaces including Amazon, eBay and Etsy. How have these channels impacted the business?
It was easy at first. We started selling on eBay then Amazon, moving high volume product quickly. The problem is margin. These are a lot lower on Amazon. Our recent expansion shows real promise, we’ve expanded to Walmart, Etsy and started to build a new website reducing our dependency on Amazon. I think by expanding to several marketplaces we have set the business up for long term success giving us and any potential acquirer opportunities and genuine diversification.
3. With so much history you must have a loyal customer base. Do you have a good repeat buyer base?
We have a very loyal customer base. We provide outstanding customer service which keeps people coming back. We just recently rolled out a customer project board so we can see what our customers are doing with our supplies. This has really helped to build long term relationships and get to know our customers much better. We do business with Sea World, Sesame Place, The Los Angeles Lakers, The Howard Stern Show and many other large businesses. We do a lot of business with schools and non-profit organizations also.
4. What are people buying and has it changed over the years? Are their clear trends?
We have focused on everyday type products that anyone can use. We stay away from fads or short-term trends. One of our biggest products is Craft Mirrors. These are an everyday type item that always sell well year-round. We have also found that a lot of best sellers are not carried by the big box stores so this insulates the business somewhat. We have several product lines that no one carries. At the same time we are always adding new products to our website. The trends are very clear.
We run ads for our best performing products and respond well to customer feedback…making product decisions accordingly.
5. There’s so much history here. Why are you selling?
This is a three-generational business, so we do this for a lot more than the money at this point. It’s about keep the business going and taking care of our customers. We are looking for someone to take over our tradition. There’s so much history and even more opportunity here.