Digital Main Street positions Featherfields for expanded online success
When Ashley Satchell purchased Featherfields in April of 2019, she knew that she would face new challenges as a first-time business owner. Little did she know that COVID-19 would upend her plans, but a new program helping main street businesses expand their digital tools and technologies would leave her even better positioned for growth.
Originally from London, Satchell spent 14 years working in Toronto, before deciding it was time to come home and do something different.
“I come from a family of female entrepreneurs who have owned their own businesses, so that felt very natural to me,” says Satchell, who jumped into action when her mother mentioned that Featherfields, a mainstay in Hyde Park for over two decades, was for sale. “The fact that Featherfields was so established really kicked me into gear, and I took a chance and said, ‘let’s see what comes of it!’”
For the first few months, everything ran as expected. Satchell was welcomed by the store’s regular customers, who would visit religiously to pick up their bird feed and outdoor supplies, and started adding added her own personality to Featherfields’ gift and décor items. Then in March, the COVID-19 quarantine began, forcing the business to adjust.
“We found out that because our primary sales were animal seed-based, we were allowed to continue selling that,” says Satchell, “and we knew that would keep us going.”
Starting off with complimentary no-contact deliveries to her customer’s front porches, Satchell added curbside pickup when that became an option, and has now safely reopened her doors to walk-in customers.
But the downtime also presented an opportunity to invest in a much-needed revamp of the store’s outdated website and custom-built point-of-sale system, and thanks to the support she received through London‘s Digital Service Squad, Featherfields is ready to move into the digital age.
Satchell learned about the original Digital Main Street offerings through the Hyde Park BIA and says it was a dream come true. The London Digital Service Squad is overseen by the Hyde Park BIA, and consists of five digital marketing experts who provide free support to London BIA businesses. Since October 2019, the Squad has helped over 170 small businesses across London to access an online market and increase their digital footprint.
“When I first heard about Digital Main Street, it was perfect timing, it was exactly what we needed,” says Satchell. “I signed right up.”
“Featherfields is exactly the kind of business that Digital Main Street’s Digital Transformation Grant and Digital Service Squad services were created to support,” adds Karen Chalmers, Director of Partnerships at TechAlliance. “It streamlines the process for small businesses to build a stronger online presence and add ecommerce options.”
After obtaining the Digital Transformation Grant through the program with the help of a Squad expert, Satchell partnered with a Fanshawe student who was well-versed in the tools and knowledge that Featherfield’s would need, including choosing a web and ecommerce platform.
“I ended up going with Shopify,” Satchell explains. “I started revamping everything that we do — now my point of sale and my website will speak to each other.”