SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – In a day-long event on Tuesday, April 18, the South Central PA Business Summit will give area business owners access to the knowledge of some of the region’s established business leaders. The scheduled presentations cover everything from big picture topics like the regional labor market to more inward-facing subjects like company culture.
From the time the event opens at 8 a.m. until it adjourns at 4 p.m., attendees will have heard from potentially more than a dozen presenters and panelists including keynote speakers Hillary Lyle, director of strategic initiatives, SCPa Works, and Lori Wriston, CEO of Valor Excel.
Businesses of all sizes are welcome, and there will be lots of networking opportunities.
The conference’s website describes it as a “new opportunity for the local business community” that will facilitate deeper connections, knowledge sharing and collaborations that can contribute to the growth of workforce and economic development in the region. The summit offers four tracks for learning: workforce development/professional growth; personal growth and wellbeing; technology and digital marketing and non-profit development.
Kendra Matusiak, founder and owner of REmix Design (107 N. Main St.), will participate in the summit as part of a panel discussion titled “Expanding Your Reach through eCommerce Sites: How to Move Your Inventory through Online Channels.” Other panelists include Robin Burtner and Bruce Krell, both representing the Shippensburg University Small Business Development Center.
REmix Design is a furniture and home décor business specializing in authentic mid-century and bohemian furnishings. Her inventory consists of mostly vintage items, but she also offers new lifestyle products and houseplants – “Anything you would want to decorate your home.”
Matusiak uses ecommerce tools, primarily in the form of her website and social media accounts, in addition to her brick-and-mortar storefront. “I encompass all of it because nowadays you can link all of it together,” she said. “It’s important because the one will lead a person to another, and it’s a big chain effect.”
She initially started selling her furniture pieces through Etsy, but then shifted her attention to developing her Main Street location in 2019. In 2020, the pandemic spurred her to develop her own website using Shopify, “which in the end, was a really good thing because people look at your website to see what you have before they come into the store.”
Matusiak said, “It’s a very interesting relationship. People say, ‘Oh, I found this on your website’ when they come to the store to see it in person. Or people will come into the store for the first time and ask, ‘Do you have a website?’ It’s very interesting to see the dynamic. People are constantly interacting between the two and with Instagram and social media as well.”
In 2020, it took her about two weeks to catalog and inventory the 500-plus items to get her website started. She wanted it to be user friendly, which meant customers needed to be able to find categories like new items, bestsellers and sale items right away. She said that Shopify made it pretty easy for a beginner to get up and running. Three years later, she said that she would never try to go without an online presence – and she wouldn’t recommend that anyone else try it either.
Matusiak will often use social media to alert her customers that a piece is about to become available. That piece will be on sale in the store immediately, and it will be added to the website later, usually that evening.
“One, I do want people to come into the store,” she said. “That’s my ultimate goal. I give my in-person customers first dibs on items, but like I said, it’s all connected.” A substantial portion of her online customers are locals who will browse and purchase through her website and then pick it up in the store. “It’s a very interesting and complex dynamic to see them all work together,” she said, “but, again, I would never go back to not having a website.”
Another advantage of ecommerce is that the process of cataloging REmix’s inventory for the website has made the store more organized overall. Matusiak can easily see what is in stock and what needs to be restocked. “Now I have it set up where, as I sell things, if I get below a certain level of inventory, it will email me.”
For a business’s ecommerce efforts to be effective, it is important for the brick-and-mortar and online experiences to offer the same quality of brand experience. “You want your website, if you do have a brick-and-mortar, to be a very good representation of what someone will see when they come into the store physically.”
Matusiak’s panel discussion is scheduled during Breakout Session 2 at 11:30 a.m. – just before lunch.
“I’m excited to attend everything else that day as well,” she said of the summit’s packed schedule.
Following the summit, attendees are invited to join the Shippensburg University Minds@Work Conference, a celebration of student research, scholarship and creativity, which runs from 3:30-8:30 p.m.
The South Central PA Business Summit is presented by the Small Business Development Center (Shippensburg University), the Shippensburg University Office of Workforce Development, the Shippensburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Historic Shippensburg, Glow Getter Studio, and the Charles H. Diller Jr. Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Innovation (Shippensburg University)