The ghosts of my business still survive in cyber-space. Alderman Providore started in 2006 as the next step along from Alderman Catering – a truly exhausting, though exciting business doing top-end party catering. The Providore was designed as an online business – still a very daring and risky step to take in 2006. It was started with $5000 that I begged, borrowed and stole (not really) and was originally a small store on Ebay, created from Ebay templates.
By the end of 2006, I paid a website designer to create a site for a business, registered the name and domain, used a friend who is a graphic artist to design the typeface and graphic, and aldermanprovidore.com.au hit the internet. I bought gourmet grocery products from all sorts of rare and unique mum ‘n dad, hobby, localised, unknown businesses and created a unique space for their products. The sales started as a small trickle, but grew exponentially over time. David & I introduced product tasting parties, and along with some targeted advertising the business grew and grew.
At the end of 2008, due to a personal interest in tea and teawares, and due to the rapid expansion of that area, I launched a second web site TeaCoffeeChocolate using the same premise as for the providore, along with a very large range of organic and free-trade products.
By this time I had altered the business plan to embrace products from outside Australia IF it was a product that could not be sourced from within Australia. At this time an overhaul of the Alderman Providore site resulted in a fresher, more contemporary look. Magazines started approaching us for both advertising, and to supply products to use as props and in gift guides. Reps from companies contacted me about stocking their products. Sales grew and grew, and we had built a reputation for service, quality, uniqueness, pricing, and product delivery. Ideas were added – and subtracted ,often through being impractical.
As Christmas 2009 approached, I started early purchasing preparations, and started to stock up on what should gave been our biggest Christmas ever. Like all small retail businesses, I purchased 20% more stock each year, which usually just covered growth, and ensured I wasn’t stuck with stick at the end of the season. If you didn’t get in early, and the product sold out…then bad luck. And the stock rolled in. Cakes, puddings, glacé fruit, sauces, relishes, fruit mince, biscuits and more. I was excited, and pumped for the excitement to come.
Then greed came to town. People who abuse the systems, deal illegally and fraudulently, who use other peoples money to satisfy their own selfish need. They created a monster that came to be known as the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Everyone stopped buying. Online purchasing, in a growth phase at that time, was the first to be hit. That Christmas I sold…nothing. Thousands of dollars tied up in stock…and no market. By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I was effectively broke. Money the business earned was sunk back into it. There was no excess. I remember ringing David, and a pudding supplier in tears, because, thanks to somebody else’s greed my business, my dream, was destroyed.
Early 2010 I put the business, good will, and web sites on the market. It sold to a mum in Brisbane who had an interest in food (but as I was to see…not a passion), and so it changed hands, and eventually a new name. Before we moved from Dulwich Hill to Brisbane, we had a HUGE market in our backyard to clear out the remainder of the stock. Anything left from that went to Vinnies.
So, for some unknown reason, today I searched for the ghost of my business. And it’s still there. A lot more than I expected, in fact. And a story of a past glory came out of it. Who knows what the future holds, as dreams do live on!