Excerpt from article
December 2005 ē Vol.16 Issue 12
Page(s) 108 in print issue
Building The Digital Cottage
Designs Stencil Company, based in Spencer, Ind., a small town (pop.
2,600) near Bloomington. It uses the Web to sell . . . well, stencils.
Now, thereís a pretty good market for stencils, actually. People like to
stencil designs on their walls, musicians stencil band names on
equipment cases, companies stencil logos and information on shipping
crates . . . lots of people can use stencils. But how many of them
happen to live in or near Spencer, Ind.? If
Stencil Company were only a physical storefront, well, itíd have a
tough time making a go of it; the proprietors had better also sell
coffee and rolls and perhaps rebuild transmissions, too. Instead, the
company offers lots of very nice predesigned stencils and a cool little
Web applet that lets users make their own custom stencils: The user
enters his text, chooses a font and size, and immediately sees what the
result will look like and what the stencil will cost. If he likes what
he sees, he just clicks the Buy Now button, and in a couple of days, the
stencil shows up on his front porch. The buyer gets to shop from the
comfort of her living room or den, and the seller has a customer who
found what she needed without having to travel to Spencer, Ind. (Not
that thereís anything wrong with Spencer, Ind. Iím sure itís a lovely
place. Really. Please donít send me letters.)
Now, I donít know the folks at Primitive Designs, havenít spoken to them, never ordered from them, and donít plan to. But Iíve checked out their Web site and I like what I see: A clever little business that provides a useful product in an efficient manner to the widest possible variety of potential customers.
And thatís how you build a digital cottage.
by Rod Scher
Rod Scher is a former software developer and a recovering English teacher. He's also the publication editor of Smart Computing and will no doubt continue in that position until such time as his boss reads this column.