Feel More at Home with IWindowShop
IWindowShop always had its doors open for new customers in Slate River Valley, Thunder Bay but the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to close their doors in March 2020. To pivot the businesses of home accessories, vintage furniture and cottage paint, an entrepreneur Camille Overmeer realized she needed to embark on a digital journey. With the help of the ShopHERE Powered by Google Program customers can now window shop through their screen and find a new decor piece quickly online!
IWindowShop started almost 40 years ago with Camille as a “mompreneur” working from home, creating floral designs and wedding flowers. After 21 years of mastering her skill, IWindowShop found a permanent location through a new storefront in Thunder Bay. The name for the store comes from a memory of “gazing into a shop window just before Christmas, being fascinated with all the latest things we could buy, or dream about buying” explained Camille. Since its beginning, the business expanded their product offerings into paint and vintage furniture, fashion accessories, home decor and more. This year, IWindowShop grew again by carving out a digital space for itself, through its e-commerce website.
Camille set up her business to inspire everyone to discover beautiful finds for their homes as she believes that everyone deserves to live in an amazing place surrounded by flowers and everyday spa products. “We help people create a beautiful home while reusing vintage furniture, on a budget and in a timely manner,” said the business owner. “We show people how to enjoy their life, no matter what their current circumstances may be.” Camille often draws inspiration for her designs from her family holidays and tropical Caribbean shores, while also finding beauty in the lakes and shores of icy Lake Superior.
On the IWindowShop store, customers can find all the necessary items for their at-home-spas treatments: lavender spa sets, chardonnay bath bombs and soap bars. For someone looking to update their home design, the store offers different paints and the necessary tools for the task. Clients can find all the beautiful home accessories such as botanical flowers and pillow cases to make their house feel more like home.
Camille found ShopHERE to be a great starting point for her digital transformation and a huge time-saver: “It would have taken me a lot longer to set up the website by myself, maybe a whole year and now it is imperative that we have a fully functioning website.” She pointed out that her Helper played a key role in setting up the website to her preferences in a short period of time: “My Helper was extremely helpful, replied to my queries right away, and helped me stay on task in a time frame.” Camille found Shopify customization options useful as she imagined a special look for her website.
“We wanted something different from the clean, clinical looking websites with silver writing. Our chosen website theme embodies the eclectic nature of our store.”
Camille admits that the ShopHERE gave her a push in the right direction when brick and mortar sales weren’t possible. “Since COVID-19 hit, it has been very stressful having to deal with customers' worries, how we would pay bills and finding time to work with everyone in your space and constantly interrupting,” commented Camille. “The ShopHERE Program has been great as we never would have attempted this on our own with no time left in our day.”
After experiencing ShopHERE, Camille advises other businesses to sign up as well: “ShopHERE is a big help as you don’t have to face all the tech stuff on your own.” She shared that even despite being intimidated by technology, she knows that anyone can learn to embrace e-commerce as a new and improved ‘normal'. During these challenging times, Camille also recommends other small businesses to stay positive and focus on marketing:
“Cut expenses and ramp up your social media – update your website, Facebook and Instagram accounts constantly! Having your customers in an email database helps to keep them informed about the hours, seasonal sales and the rest”
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, and Yellow Pages.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19.