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Weekly e-mails, which AmericanMeadows creates and sends itself, round out its online marketing program, and the company hopes to move toward regionalized e-mail targeting tied to plant growing zones in the near future. Including retail sales from the Vermont Wildflower Farm, now operated by one Allen son, and the web store, managed by the other, the family business, which peaks at about 14 employees in season, brings in more than $1 million per year.
Though Allen, like most small business operators, has sought to keep costs down by taking on many tasks personally, he, like the others, recommends that site operators admit when they need help and seek it judiciously. “We opened our retail store 20 years ago with what we liked,” he says. “We bought the wrong stuff. I should have worked in the gift shop for six months first. And I’d say now if you’re going to do a retail web site, pay somebody who knows what they’re doing just to observe for a few weeks and give it their close attention. Then you won’t make so many mistakes.”