Back in 1996, Jackie Monticup set out to expand her business's customer base. The retail business, The Magic Trick Shop, in Charlottesville, Va., opened by Jackie and her husband Peter Monticup in 1994, sold, you guessed it, magic tricks, but after having been opened in the area for a few years, Monticup discovered that foot traffic to their store was beginning to disappear.
"When you first open in an area," say Monticup, "the first couple of years people flock to you, then the novelty wears off, and it's hard to get customers back." Her trick to hook more customers was to explore the then fledgling World Wide Web. "I thought it would be nice to be a world magic shop instead of a neighborhood magic shop."
Instead of hiring a Web consultant or developer, Monticup took to the task herself. "We didn't have a business that we could draw money from [to hire a Web professional]," she says. "Magic Tricks Inc. wasn't going to give us the financial backing we needed to hire a developer."
The Monticups went fully virtual in 2001 with Magictricks.com, closing its retail location and moving the company's Internet operations to its Gordonsville, Va., warehouse, mostly due to Jackie Monticup's dedication to going online.
Here, she walks you through her 12-step program to setting up an e-commerce site, with tools that are cheap, and even free, that will do it for you.