Made with Miva: Stonehouse Collection

More than forty years ago, Rick Kersten went into business as an artist and illustrator. He created along with his brother Pete, unique and funny greeting cards with humorous illustrations. Today, these images made popular by family, now make up the Stonehouse Collection, a huge selection of funny greeting cards, return address labels, note cards and more.

With an extensive collection of a niche product, needed an ecommerce solution that would accommodate their need for multiple product attributes while providing their customer a professional shopping experience. Being on the Miva Merchant platform for over 13 years, Stonehouse Collection has found all their needs met and then some. Read their Made with Miva story shared with us by the Stonehouse Collection Owner himself, Matt Kersten.

How did you get started with your online business?

In 2002 I took our family business online with Miva Inc.  Not knowing anything about the online world, I set a modest goal for the year and to my surprise I doubled it. I have been fortunate that everything I sell is unique and have had great growth every year since opening.

What does Stonehouse Collection sell and what makes it unique?

We are an online stationary business that creates and produces all of our products in house. We specialize in the humor market of greeting cards for every occasion and holiday.

Why did you choose Miva Inc.?

Way back in 2002 I was looking for a flexible cart that would allow me to add attributes to the products, though back then I had no idea what an attribute was. I could see that there was an active, helpful community that was willing to answer questions as I struggled to learn this new world of ecommerce. Miva 4 fit the bill and we have stuck with miva ever sense.

How have you customized Miva Merchant to fit your needs?

Letting people personalize their cards and envelopes was a big leap forward a few years ago. Back then there was no way to do this with other shopping carts. It required a total custom solution.

What is your favorite feature that you’ve built into your online store?

Last year we updated our logo and look and feel of the site. This year we are updating our back end technology so our customers will have a better experience customizing their products.

In your opinion, what are the keys to success when operating an online store?

Automate everything you can. Great customer support. Customers are getting used to quick shipping thanks to Amazon, so try to ship orders same day.

What lessons have you learned as a result of setting up your Internet business?

I learned early on to not take a shotgun approach to selling online and find your niche. By focusing on certain categories, it has been much easier to create and sell products specifically tailored for that segment. A good example I always like to use is fire fighter themed Christmas cards. Years ago I made a Christmas card with fire fighters rescuing Santa from a tree and that same year I had fire departments, companies that make fire houses, fire fighters, etc. ordering this card. That was a huge lesson. BTW, this card is still in the top 5 best selling items I have.

What do you like most about using Miva Merchant?

Very accessible company. Miva has transformed over the years and has really improved with the times. They always seem to know the trends and stay ahead of the curve.

How is your online store doing today?

Better than ever and once we have our big update come out this summer we expect a huge boost in sales. We have also added a new product, notepads, and they are a huge success. I was nervous adding the product category but they now account for 25% of my sales during the off-season.