Grapevine Country Gifts is an Internet-based Web store spun off by G-T Enterprises. It began as an experiment for the design of an e-commerce site after a G-T customer refused to pay for development of a similar site because, "it wasn't making any money," within the first four days of implementation. Launched in January of 2000, the site was submitted to search engines about four months before search engines began charging for submission. Even though the site began attracting visitors, sales were slow at first, due in part to an inadequate (but costly) payment processing system which has since been replaced. With this early system we often had to meet suppliers' minimum order requirements in order to fill a single customer's order, as inventory levels were being built.
Our new system is much more efficient, and the higher sales volume we are now processing has streamlined our inventory management. Last year's sales revenues were more than 6 times higher than sales the year before that. We expect continued growth, at a much slower pace, in the foreseeable future.
G-T Enterprises is currently a partnership owned by the married couple E. Gwen Hultquist and Timothy A. Hultquist. Gwen Hultquist is the majority owner and manager for both G-T Enterprises and Grapevine Country Gifts. Tim Hultquist is sole owner and manager of Technical Computer Support (TCS), a small-business computer consulting company for sales, installation, integration, networking, maintenance, and support, which is not part of this business plan. The owners both hold Bachelor of Business Degrees from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan and have had several years' of management experience prior to self-employment.
This business plan is based upon the consolidation of Grapevine Country Gifts (the Web store) into the pre-existing G-T Enterprises, which has so far focused on selling similar products through road shows. These endeavors are very similar, and combining them under the same company will greatly simplify our financial and marketing strategies, by treating them as different revenue streams in a unified plan. The larger G-T Enterprises will remain a partnership between the Hultquists, with Gwen as the majority owner.
G-T Enterprises began in 1999 as a website consultation, design and development firm for small- to medium-sized businesses. Various events led to the addition of the Web store, "Grapevine Country Gifts and Collectibles" (now simply, "Grapevine Country Gifts"), selling primarily Pin Art, Ear Art and miniature lighthouse replicas by Spoontiques©. We added hand painted Artistic Glass by Artistic Gifts© and other miscellaneous products from various vendors. In the spring of 2002, as a means of promoting the Web store, we began exhibiting and selling our products at consumer gift shows and home shows in a four-state area. "Newbies" in this area of commerce, the first show was a complete bust with the exception of gaining valuable experience in evaluating shows and developing organizational skills for setup and booth layout.
Operations of the business are conducted on our 100-year-old family farmstead, now reduced to approximately five acres. A 16' x 24' barn and a smaller antique outbuilding were converted and renovated for office/work shops. The three-story barn was re-roofed in 1995, along with the house. It is structurally sound, but requires extensive restoration and renovation for use as storage for product warehousing, packing and shipping. The home-based operations greatly reduce our overhead expenses and a fair portion of utilities and other related household expenses can be charged as business expense.
G-T Enterprises' start-up capital of $1,000 was originally provided by E. Gwen Hultquist. Her husband, Timothy A. Hultquist, has, among other things, supported the company financially, mostly by providing 'no-interest' short-term loans to cover working capital requirements. At the starting year of the current business plan (FY2004), Mr. Hultquist has provided a total of $20,000 of no-interest loans that need to be repaid within three years.