John Lercari calls himself a salesman, but after hearing about his online success, some would call him an entrepreneur. In 2001 he launched his online store, TheMemoriesPlace.com, on the 3dCart eCommerce platform as a side business. By 2006 his “side job” turned into a full time career complete with the ups and downs every small business owner faces, but perseverance and remaining focused paid off.
One year after going full-time, John’s business doubled as he “reached for the stars.” Then in 2008, as the country went into an economic tailspin, John was faced with a new challenge – picking up the pieces. “I found myself doubting whether it was worth trying to rebuild the business, but after a lot of soul searching, I moved forward coming out better than ever.”
While the economic challenges of the past are behind him, John finds obstacles along the pathway to eCommerce success easier to overcome today. “I quickly learned how to handle minor setbacks from Google and the other search engines. I educated myself in so many things like search engine optimization, shopping carts, pay-per-click, and it’s proven to be a lifesaver as I’ve progressed in business.”
TheMemoriesPlace.com takes a customer supplied image and weaves it into a blanket or throw creating a unique piece of art that appeals to a wide audience. “Friends, lovers, spouses, partners, pet lovers… our products appeal to everyone and each piece is custom made,” according to John. “We’ve got a great product and being a natural born salesperson, I love to sell and love talking to customers, so they get a level of personal service that’s hard to find today.”
At 66 years old, John’s not ready to retire yet, but he has brought his son into the business and is teaching him the principles that have made him successful thus far. They even have plans to start a new online store together. “I want my son to learn from the ground up and hopefully stay away from the many hard lessons I learned,” he said.
When asked about what kind of advice he could offer others looking to start an online store as a family business, John gives a frank answer. “Make sure that you and your family are ready to live and eat the business. It’s not a job where you go home at 5.” Learning the in’s and out’s of a business helps too. “I’m not a bookkeeper, an accountant, or an inventory specialist,” John jokes. “But I’ve become all of them and not necessarily without a lot of kicking and scratching.”
John does offer a word of caution for future entrepreneurs, “ask yourself whether you want to be in business for just a hobby or a living. If you’re going in to be a business, treat it that way.”