Tuesday, July 31, 2007

From Tennessee

My name is Ashlea Montgomery and I live in Memphis, Tennessee. This is my ladybug story... I wish it were different...

My friend, Cheri Wade and I are in our mid thirties and both have two children...In 2005 our sons were 5 and our daughters were 3. Our sons, Jacob and Chandler, were best friends and attended the same small private school...that is how I met Cheri. Our daughters, Katie and Evan were just going to start preschool in the Fall so we bought their uniforms and were so excited...we had big plans for our kids who had become such close little friends…all was perfect in our little world until “Katie-bug” had a horrible accident on June 25, 2005. I received a call that she accidentally slipped in the neighbors pool and drowned. I don’t even know what to tell you after that sentence but that we were devastated and our lives would never be the same after that day. We wrapped our hearts around the Wade family and have never let them go. We have had balloon releases, ladybug releases, dedicated a childrens book series to our school library...anything we can do, we try to do to show them our love and support.

We just had the 2nd anniversary of precious little Katie’s death. We went out to the site of their new house in the country and had a “ladybug release” where “Katie’s Garden” will be. It was a sad but sweet time to draw close to Cheri, Jason, Jacob and there family. I was shopping for the perfect thing and that is when I found your store online. I bought the adorable ladybug bird house to hang on the tree in “Katie’s Garden.” Cheri absolutely loved it. It was precious and priceless.

Cheri is so, so sweet. She is a woman of such strength and character. She makes me want to be a better person. If my story is chosen, I will use it to honor her and the memory of precious Katie.

Well, back to my story…Cheri decided that she wanted to get a small ladybug tattoo in memory of Katie this past June. So, about eleven of us planned a fun sleep over night and made our way to the tattoo parlor...they were surprised to see “suburbia” roll out of this mini van and pile in the door for our new addition! I thought the artist was going to start crying right then and there when we responded to “so what’s up with the ladybug?”

Well, now you know my ladybug story. We will be forever friends brought unusually close through this tragedy...

We sign off to each other by saying, “Hugs and Ladybugs!”

Thank you for hearing my story.


Ashlea Montgomery

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Choosing Ladybugs

One of the critical decisions to be made when starting a new business is defining a suitable product with an adequate potential customer base. In the case of the LadyBug Shop the initial idea for focusing on ladybug products came from the fact that the ladybug is Delaware’s official state bug due to the efforts of a second grade class from the town of Milford petitioning the State Legislature to give it this designation. (Read the full story) Given that we are located in Milford, Delaware, it seemed like a nice business to have in our town and one that local customers would find appealing. But that was only part of the decision. In addition I had been studying the world of “eCommerce”—i.e. business done via the Internet. And I had some ideas about what would be a good product line to offer to shoppers via a website. I was looking for a very narrow product line, since I knew that advertising costs were high if you have to compete with other stores. And I knew that we would need a relatively large potential customer base around the world. Clearly, limiting ourselves to gifts with a ladybug design was a narrow focus. And I knew that ladybugs were beloved by people around the world--so I guessed there might be a large customer base for ladybug products. I did not do much market research—but I did do a Google search on the word “ladybug” and came up with over 12,000 web references (in 2003). That seemed promising. Of course you never know until you try—but it seems that I was correct about the appeal of the ladybug. Today we have over 10,000 visitors per month visiting our website http://www.ladybug-shop.com/.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NEW! Ladybug Leather Luggage Tag

We just received a shipment of Ladybug Leather Luggage Tags that are incredible! Each bold ladybug is great to put on your luggage, gym bag, diaper bag, backpack, purse, golf bag, any thing you can think of! Plus it is so bold you can be sure to distinguish your luggage from all of the other black luggage--you'll find your bag at the airport in a hurry! Look at our New Items category frequently to see all of the new ladybug products!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Everybody Loves Ladybugs!

Everyone loves ladybugs, especially little girls! Dan and I have a wonderful granddaughter, Madison, who is now two years old and has come to love the ladybug. Each year since she was born Madison has been with us for Milford’s Bug & Bud Festival and joined us in leading the opening parade. Just before the Festival the LadyBug Shops receives live ladybugs from Ladies in Red, which we give out to the community during the Festival. When Madison was just an infant we gave a ladybug to her and she calmly let it crawl on her hand. She now looks for them in the garden and when we go for walks. One day we were out for a walk and she stopped suddenly and reached down and picked up a ladybug and proudly told us what it was. She knows they are “good bugs” and she is very careful with them. What a fun way to teach a child about nature!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Click-and Mortar" Gift Shop

The LadyBug Shop is a specialized "click-and-mortar" gift shop that my wife Rhonda and I opened in Milford, Delaware in November 2003. The “click” refers to the fact that we have a website that is used to sell our products online to customers around the world. The “mortar” refers to the fact that at the same time we operate a retail gift shop in downtown Milford to serve customers who shop in Milford. In large part we started the LadyBug Shop an experiment to see if this type of business can help to revitalize historic downtowns in small cities. We have been working for several years with the Downtown Milford Inc., a not-for-profit volunteer group dedicated to the revitalization of the town’s historic central business district. We realized that it is very difficult to create a viable cluster of small businesses in an older downtown area using traditional business models. Given the limited amount of shopping now occurring in the area, the pioneering shops usually did not survive very long, thus the critical mass of shops needed to draw shoppers back downtown could not be accumulated. We thought eCommerce could be used to supplement traditional retailing and thus be a useful tool for sustaining viable businesses in the downtown area while the in-store shopping customer base was built up over time. I plan to use my entries in this blog to record our experiences in setting up and operating the LadyBug Shop so that others can learn from our experience.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ladybug Books For All Ages!

The LadyBug Shop features ladybug themed books for all ages! For beginning readers ages up to three, we carry the Mary Meyer Soft Book. For ages three and up the Set of Three Touchable Counting Books is a great way to get your little one counting with monkeys, stars and ladybugs! The Grouchy Ladybug, is our most popular book and is wonderful for ages five and up! Each page gets a little larger and features a clock at the top of the page to teach your child how to tell time! The ladybug in the story starts out not using her manners but by the end says "please and thank you" and is a well mannered ladybug! Shaoey and Dot is a wonderful story written by Mary Beth & Steven Curtis Chapman, about a young oriental child that is befriended by a ladybug and soon discovers the joys of being adopted by a family. This book is fabulous! The first time I read it I needed a tissue box!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

WELCOME to the LadyBug Shop!!

Welcome to the LadyBug Shop...where everything is ladybug! The LadyBug Shop features almost 500 ladybug themed gifts! Including ladybug jewelry, ladybug garden decor, ladybug apparel, ladybug baby supplies and gifts, ladybug cards, ladybug office accessories, ladybug kitchen decor, ladybug picture frames, ladybug toys and games, ladybug books, ladybug birthday party supplies, ladybug collectibles, Franz Ladybug Collection, ladybug home decor. There are so many things to mention that you need to visit http://www.ladybug-shop.com/ now to check it out!

Fun Ladybug Game