SIBLEY—A downtown shop in Sibley has been able to disrupt the struggles of brick-and-mortar stores in America, and do so without that struggle that other retail businesses have seen.
The Porch on Main will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Friday, March 20.
Julie Ackerman, the founder and owner of The Porch on Main, has seen the store go through changes, but her customers still keep returning.
“When we first opened, we used to do a deli lunch and then we remodeled four years ago and I took out the food part out of it except the ice cream. We’re not crazy, we kept the good stuff,” Ackerman said. “Then we brought in more clothing and baby gifts, a line of facial products like body wash and soaps and lotions. We have always done the decor, so we have always decorated for people.”
One aspect that has made the store so successful for so long is the variety of products it provides to its customers.
The Porch on Main is not only just a place where customers can buy clothes, but a store where people can order and drink coffee, where kids can get ice cream, where a bride can find her wedding bouquet and where customers can even find locally made wine.
On top of that, the business homeowners do redesigns of rooms in their homes, such as the dining room, living room or bedroom. The store is truly a jack-of-all-trades and has something to offer to just about everyone who shops there.
To make the business more modern, Ackerman’s other full-time employee, Allison Beenken, has made it her mission to make sure that while the store has its physical presence in Sibley, it has an online persona too.
“I keep up with the social media and posting,’ Beenken said. “Usually when someone sees it online, it helps them and brings them into the store as well.”
An example occurred a few days ago, when Beenken posted a pair of shoes on the business’s Facebook page and the pair was purchased by a Des Moines resident.
With another customer, Beenken did a FaceTime call since that individual lived in Minnesota and was able to help her redecorate her home.
Some might wonder if customers will ever be able to order their clothes and items from the store through Amazon, but The Porch on Main has stuck to doing online sales through its own website.
“Amazon is very expensive and is not very nice to small businesses because they take a huge chunk of your sales,” Beenken said. “I looked into it because they have Amazon Business. I was trying to figure out what to sell, like our graphics tees, which we sell here for about $24. Well, we wouldn’t even make half of that because they take such a huge percentage.”
The Porch on Main will hold a 20th anniversary sale March 16-21.
“We’re going to have some specials and some things that people aren’t going to know,” Ackerman said.
Two decades is a long time for anyone to be in business and Ackerman is grateful to her customers in what they have been able to do for her all these years.
“We’ve been very fortunate to be here 20 years,” she said. “I’ve had great employees and good customers.”
As for her secret for her business for staying around as long as it has, she said it is all about her customers being loyal and The Porch on Main being adaptable to change while providing a variety of items and services.
“It’s been tough. January and February are really, really slow,” Ackerman said. “But I think it’s because we do so many different things that we can stay here because we dabble in the ice cream, and the ice cream couldn’t do it by itself, and you’ve got the gifts, and you couldn’t do that by itself.
“We do weddings all year long, so we do all the wedding bouquets and the flowers,” she said.
Beenken added that having that personal touch, such as knowing what the customers want, is another way that makes The Porch on Main more distinctive.
“We know our customers too, so every time they come in, we know what to show them,” she said. “Anything new that comes in, we’re like ‘Hey, you might need this.’”