The site went live Nov. 3, 2000, in honor of the company's 50th anniversary and the birthday of its founder, Grubbs' late father-in-law Clarence (Jake)Bourgeois.
Grubbs cited availability and transferability of inventory as a major asset to traditional companies when they set up their Web sites. Grubbs said he maintains a separate inventory for the Web site, which showcases the stores'baby clothing and gift items, but that shipping is managed from the main store and that inventory can be transferred between the stores and the site.
"The site gives us a lower overhead than opening a new store somewhere," Grubbs said. "There's no additional rent, just a couple of new phone lines and a couple new people. And it can grow with the business."
Some items were added to the product line for the Internet store but only items that they could easily move to the physical stores if it didn't sell on the Internet, Grubbs said. "Our objective was to give us another store front for selling our product line in a hope to boost revenues."
For the site's future, Grubbs sees perhaps an increase in customer service availability. Currently the site provides customer service by phone from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Central time daily. "It's a fluid situation, and we can grow it as it goes," he said. Outsourcing their customer service is also a possibility, he said, but "the problem is, you have to educate them about your business." Grubbs, a former helicopter pilot for Mobil Oil who was medically grounded in December 1998, began working on establishing an Internet presence for the store in September 1999. "Richard found sales slowing in our seven stores," Grubbs explained. "There was a lot of talk and news about e-commerce and Richard thought we might be able to use the Internet to sell some of our merchandise. Richard, Claire and I discussed the possibility and decided to give it a shot and place baby clothing and gift items on our site."