2014 was a milestone for Zee Bee Market and YOU were part of it! We accomplished a lot with your constant support, love and friendship. On behalf of the hundreds of Fair Trade artisans that produced or created our beautiful gifts, THANK YOU!
(Craft Link artisan Photo Credit: SERRV)
January & February 2014
We started the year with what became known as "Snowmageddon". Tough winter conditions dragged on. Our "Love People. Give then Fair Trade Gifts" campaign began in anticipation of Valentine's Day. We couldn't connect with many customers as we rely on festivals or events for sales and winter is not the ideal time. We did have some website sales.
Did a bit of research and found a great deal of information about how the Fair Trade movement is growing thanks for the direct involvement of celebrities and personalities. I hope you like the blog inspiring.
The Product Review feature was introduced to our website! This is a great way to receive feedback about our products from our customers. We are very grateful for the positive reviews that we know will help future customers. Here are some of the comments we've received.
One of my favorite months of the year. It marks the arrival of spring and we also celebrate our Planet. I celebrated Earth Month by creating inspiring images with quotes of some of my favorite authors in this blog. April also brought the start of festivals, city-wide events and farmer's markets. We joined the Tower Grove Farmer's Market and it became sort of our home away from home most the year.
We also participated at one of my favorite events, St. Louis Earth Day Festival at Forest Park on April 27. Always a wonderful event and we helped the cause by donating one of our 24-inch Tree of Life metal art pieces. We had some dangerous weather conditions so the event ended earlier than expected.
The highlight for us this month was our participation at the Gypsy Caravan, a well know event, that moved to the Family Arena in St. Charles. Got a moment of fame by sharing our story on this Fox 2 News piece. Again, the weather did not cooperate and strong thunderstorms forced the event to end sooner than expected.
June, July 2014
In addition to participating at Farmer's Markets, the job to find the storefront location continued. It was clear that our home would be somewhere along the South Grand Blvd business district. In late June, we were happy to donate one of our 24-inch Tree of Life Metal Art pieces to our friends at Forai, for their Silent Auction to support their Launch Event.
Two important highlights this month. Introduced our newest Fair Trade supplier, JOYN India. Their gorgeous handbags have elevated the quality and sophistication of our assortment. Customers love the collection! Plan to expand in 2015. It was also this month when we found 3211 South Grand was available for rent!
We returned for the third year to the Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival. The first two we attended were held at Keiner Plaza in downtown STL. This year, it moved to Soulard and it was a huge success! We also reached 500 "likes" on Facebook!
We signed the lease for Zee Bee Market's new store and began work as soon as we got the keys. Goal was to open in late October. There was a lot to be done and I had an overly optimistic timeline! The long journey from start to end is documented in this blog. Despite some setbacks, work inside the store got done pretty quickly.
October is also Fair Trade Month and while I'd hoped to open the store this month, it was not going to happen. In the meantime, I worked on ordering lots of new product for the store and now proudly sell Fair Trade products from three new suppliers: SERRV, Equal Exchange and Dsenyo. We also introduced our first local vendor, Crow Steals Fire, a talented artist who specializes in personalized jewelry. La Cosecha Coffee Roasters also joined the list of local suppliers.
I needed to hire a team of sales employees and was lucky enough to find three very talented, committed and friendly individuals. The excitement from the community was building and we soon reached 600 "likes" on Facebook!
The date was set. November 7 would be the first day we would open our doors! I decided to turn this special day for us into a fundraiser to benefit, Partners for Just Trade, a St. Louis nonprofit organization that works with Fair Trade artisans from Peru, Haiti, Cambodia and Egypt. Our friends helped us raise $720 for this wonderful organization
I had sent out a Press Release to several news outlets before Grand Opening. We were honored to be featured by St. Louis Magazine Online...thank you!
November was a bit of a roller coaster. We went from a high of a successful Grand Opening and the huge welcome to the neighborhood we received to a low that followed the unfortunate events of Nov 24. While our store was spared of damage, not all businesses were as lucky. I must say this brought out the best of the community. Every business along South Grand had a lot of support from the St Louis community. Our desire to belong to this thriving business district did not change one bit! The flooding of support continued through Small Business Saturday and the weeks leading up to Christmas.
A milestone this month was the introduction of Gift Cards . We can now make shopping easier! We also found an artist who added a bit more interest to our front windows: you can now see our store name and what we sell from the outside!
You are officially invited to stop by our store located at 3211 South Grand Blvd., St. Louis. MO 63110. We'll take on a trip around the world through the products and stories we bring you.
To those of you who helped us accomplish so much in 2014, THANK YOU! We look forward to another wonderful year bringing you more Fair Trade and expanding our offerings. Stay tuned!