Managing schedules, appointments, traffic and everything else are just some of the things a OneCoast Territory Manager does on a daily basis. But what is it like on the road for them? Well, we were able to catch up with Kathy Stevens. She shared with us what a day on the road for her is like!
Blog post written by Kathy Stevens, OneCoast Territory Manager
As a sales rep for OneCoast, the best part of my day is hearing the amazing things that my retailers are planning and accomplishing. Each of them put their personal stamp on the shopping experience in San Diego. I enjoy helping them purchase the right product for their stores, at the right time, and at the right price. I feel privileged to be one of their tools for success. In the past seven years on the road, I have come to know so many innovative, dedicated, and persevering retailers. I have been so impressed when they:
- Inspire others by their generous hearts and community-based events. Sherrie Ness of Bates Nut Farm and Farmer’s Daughter, Valley Center, sponsors events every weekend at the family farm to promote her business and build community. For several years, she hosted a Girl’s Night Out for over 200 women, with home-cooked food, entertainment, prizes, and shopping. What an undertaking! Recently, she sponsored Relay for Life Valley Center, raising money for cancer awareness. She hosts dog shows, community sales, and is the favorite place for all families to go during pumpkin season. (I took my kids there when they were toddlers, never knowing that one day I would work with Sherrie). She also visits a children’s hospital in Honduras each spring, and sells Honduran coffee at Bates Nut Farm to raise funds for the hospital.
- Overcome personal obstacles while continuing to build and open new stores. In between orders, retailers have shared with me how they are surviving cancer treatments and surgeries; coping with aging, illness or death of parents; enjoying their children and grandchildren; and caring for beloved pets and rescued animals. As a survivor of breast cancer and the recent death of our family dog, I relate, and we agree these events will not have the last word in our lives.
- Expand their successful business concepts. Several times per year I work with Annie Glenn of LG Retail Enterprise. She is an amazing business woman. Starting with one innovative store in Seaport village, she now owns and buys for three accessory/gift stores (Urban Girl Accessories) and two fashion stores (Urban Beach House) in the San Diego area. She has an eye for what appeals to her customers, displays it well, and then replicates the concept with success. She also has a big heart for others– her personal motto is #kindness matters! This year, she is obsessed with pineapples (even painting her office this color). Note: she bought everything pineapple-y that OneCoast vendors offer! Her latest challenge is to Save Seaport Village as a shopping and historical destination in San Diego.
- Take risks to try a new endeavor. Lenore Lipfouski, co-owner of a successful festival-fair booth business, wanted another creative outlet. She opened My Rustic Garden, a home décor and outdoor gift shop, two years ago in La Mesa. In addition to designing signature creative garden art, she passionately promotes Art Poles and Gypsy Garden from my vendor, Studio M. We have had many an interesting conversation on the status of retail and best ways to market a new business! When a Hobby Lobby opened nearby, she got busy networking with other nurseries and the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College to promote her store. Another example of taking on something new is Jeanne Jordan, owner of Treasures from the Heart, Coronado. While writing an order with her this year, I learned that she is assisting her husband, Doug, with founding New Life Church, La Mesa. All of the time I have know Jeanne, her faith has helped her through the ups and downs of running a gift store, including nearby restaurant remodels, broken plumbing, and caring for a large extended family. Her never ending excitement for new products and her customers is always a lift for me when I spend a day in Coronado visiting my retailers.
- Create engaging beauty in displays, packaging, and store experience. I hear it all the time at Linda’s Gift, Carlsbad. “This store has so many beautiful things in it.” I love that my vendor’s products are right in the mix! We recently created this display with items from 8 Oak Lane and two other vendors with coordinating products. Linda prides herself on offering excellent customer service, including complimentary wrapping of gifts that are almost too beautiful to open! I like the partnership that Linda and I have in selecting and displaying product for her store. Another retailer, Patsy Eppler at Green Gardens Nursery in Pacific Beach, has an amazing eye for display. She plans her themes each season, and refreshes the paint and fixtures in each of the gift shop rooms to suit. We find everything in my lines that will work in her seasonal displays and enhance her well-visited open houses. It is such fun to visit the shop and see the creative ways she has displayed my vendors’ products!
- Share ideas and products with other retailers. I enjoy talking with my many retailers about how their businesses are growing—what is working, what is not—and how retail is changing. Many owners appreciate my sales reps’ perspectives on retail and what is trending as they may not have time to visit other stores. Connecting my retailers is also a great way to cross-pollinate ideas. I enjoy being a broker– if I can’t source an item for a retailer, I am sure one of my other retailers knows where to find it. And some owners visit each other and share hot products and trends!
The retail gift business is a creative industry. It is also challenging. It attracts vibrant, positive people who have a zest for living. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my retailers succeed and knowing that I had a small part in it. Sometimes, as I am driving across one of the beautiful San Diego bridges to my next appointment, I think, “I am so lucky to be paid to work with wonderful friends and sell beautiful things!”
Kathy Stevens lives, breathes, and plays in San Diego County. She loves retail, reading, music, and time with her family and friends.