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The original article can be found at The Daily Reporter
Westerville store owner expects growth during her first spring in business
After more than 25 years in the corporate world, Kriss Rogers last year decided to combine her hobby and her career to open a new store in uptown Westerville that sells outdoor accessories such as wind chimes and glass ornaments.
Outside Envy, located at 15 N. State St. in Westerville, opened last August, but is now gearing up for what Rogers said she hopes will be the store's busiest time of the year.
"We're looking at the next three months as being about half of our business," Rogers said.
People are starting to spend more time outside and therefore starting to decorate their outdoor areas, she said, noting that her store offers buyers a variety of pottery items, art glass and wind chimes to create unique outdoor spaces.
"I always had been an avid gardener and loved the outdoors. I was looking for a niche and felt that I have one," said Rogers. "I didn't want people to come in here and be able to say, 'Oh, I could get that anywhere.'"
But she did study ideas from other retailers as she envisioned what she wanted at her own store.
"I took parts of three to four other retail outlets and incorporated those into my concept," Rogers said.
She said that so far the reception from customers has been positive.
"People have really liked it. Sales have been strong," Rogers said.
The most popular items so far have been the art glass. She said she started with two or three different styles, but now carries more than four dozen.
"It's definitely been one of the strongest categories," Rogers said.
The store also tries to feature as many items from local artists as possible.
"We're always on the lookout for local artists and we're hoping that they'll be coming to us through word-of-mouth. I think people have a real interest in that," said Rogers.
The store also may benefit from the high gas prices as people are taking fewer vacations and instead spending money on their homes.
"There are a lot of people adding three-season rooms or sunrooms. They're traveling less and want to get a lot of enjoyment out of their back decks or patios," Rogers said.
After a long career in a variety of positions, including as a buyer with such large retailers as JCPenney and Value City, Rogers decided nearly two years ago that she wanted to go out on her own.
"It's something I had though about for the last 10 years ... finally I took that leap of faith," she said. "If I was going to keep working hard, I was going to do it for myself. It's a lot more fun when you're doing it for yourself."
That experience in the corporate world - especially her background in dealing with manufacturers - has been a big help so far in her entrepreneurial venture.
"I learned about the buying process and try to understand what the customers want and what they're willing to pay for," said Rogers. "The item has to be unique and it has to be affordable."
In that vein, the store does offer products at in a wide range of prices.
One of her main challenges now is spreading the word about her store and she said she's learning "how to get noticed outside the community."
So far, about 60 percent of her customers live in or around Westerville, but she said she's also seeing more shoppers coming from the New Albany, Worthington and Sunbury areas, too.
She spent nearly nine months looking all over Central Ohio for a location and finally landed the Westerville location, with a little luck involved.
Scouring Westerville one day to watch traffic patterns and other characteristics of the uptown area, she spotted a lease sign in a storefront that hadn't been there before.
She immediately called about the lease and when another potential leasee's appointment ahead of hers was canceled, she met with the owner and decided she had found the spot she'd been wanting.
"I had been looking at a lot of different locations and for some reason always kept getting pulled back to uptown Westerville," Rogers said. "I'm so happy with the location. I don't really think I could have done any better."
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