It’s the teapots that tend to hook people.
Of all the MacKenzie-Childs brand offerings displayed at On Broad in Lititz, they’re the No. 1 seller, says Jacqueline Sensenig, who opened that boutique in June.
“Teapots are often what someone may start their collection with,” she says. “I bought a teapot and just added and added and now have (MacKenzie-Childs) furniture in my home. So it’s really a brand that is a little addictive sometimes once you start.”
She and her husband discovered the brand in a bed-and-breakfast dining room during an anniversary trip to New York’s Finger Lakes – which is MacKenzie-Childs’ home.
It was fortuitous for the couple, who own a manufacturing company that builds displays for large corporations and stores.
“We always thought it would be cool to have our own store because we spent so much time designing and building and making stores for other people,” she says. “So we have all these great ideas.”
With Lititz getting so much national press they knew for some time that would be where.
“We always said Lititz was a no-brainer. But I didn’t want to open a store just to open a store. It needed to be the right thing,” she says. “So when we learned about MacKenzie-Childs it was kind of like everything just came together.”
On Broad sells items with a complementary vibe from roughly 35 other vendors. But about 70% of what’s in the store is from MacKenzie-Childs – which in recent years has been featured in the home of at least one of Bravo’s “Real Housewives.”
“My sales rep made a comment that it’s always been a really strong brand, but it’s just on fire these days,” Sensenig says. “I think some of that might have been the celebrity attention … But, really, it’s just a great product. And I love being part of something that can just give somebody a little more happiness by having something whimsical and unique in their home.”
If you could do it over again, would you still open during a pandemic? I absolutely would. But that’s not to say that there weren’t challenges …. We had planned to do a lot of the work ourselves and use our own staff (from the manufacturing business.) But as with many other businesses we shut down for a time. We’d laid off employees. So it forced me to get more creative. I ended up using some friends of family and things like that to get the work done. The biggest setback, I would say, was the second wave of COVID. … I was planning to be open by the end of the year … but the second wave of COVID hit and it made me reevaluate everything … Having that first day during another quote-un-quote shutdown would not be a good way to get the business on its feet. So I made the decision just to wait until spring.
Do you think a lot about how things would be different if you opened in a time without COVID? The only thing I would say would be different is that we probably would have been open last Christmas and this would be my second …. But everything’s delayed. Everyone across the board in any business has experienced delays and setbacks. Businesses have had to adapt in many different ways.
Customers often want to share advice with new businesses. What’s the best piece you’ve received so far? On special orders, feedback that I was getting – and I (also) noticed – was that the warehouse wasn’t shipping things to me regularly enough. What I did about that was I took a trip up to corporate in the Finger Lakes … and I met with the corporate team up there and we talked about the special orders and ways to ensure that I’m getting those orders in a timely manner … Again, with COVID, there are delays because of that. They are trying to get back to (shipping within two weeks) and I do see that it’s gotten a little bit better.
Was there an intriguing but probably-best-to-file-on-the shelf piece of advice? Retail customers want you to be there when they want you. We originally started out being open five days a week. People wanted us to be open a little bit more. So we compromised and we opened Sundays. We are currently open every day except Monday. However, I think it’s important to have that day ... to go in, restock, clean and get a good start to the week.
Adjective that best describes the climate for small businesses in Lancaster County? Innovative. With the COVID climate and everything that’s changed … creativity has really been what it’s about.
Sarah Finch is lucky to get five hours of sleep per night.
She’s at her shop by 3:30 a.m. That’s OMG Donuts, which opened in Quarryville in December 2020. There she’s frying doughnuts and prepping dough. Then, at 6:30 a.m., she’s off to her day job at a nearby orthodontist. When she’s done there, she’s back at OMG helping her staff close up shop.
And she does it for those who love doughnuts.
“I actually started out working in bakeries and that sort of thing. But I hated doing cakes,” she says. “So when we were dreaming about doing a bakery, I didn’t want anything where I risked having to make a cake.”
Finch has fond memories of the kind of potato-dough doughnuts that she says are popular in Maine, where she lived as a young child and spent summers while growing up. That’s the type she offers. She says they’re a good fit for savory sandwiches, which OMG sells.
“In the beginning, people were scared of them. And then they were really well received. Then we made those bombs,” she says of dough stuffed with everything from bacon and eggs to taco or pizza flavors. “They kind of took over. So we’re trying to reintroduce the sandwiches again. They are different. But they’re so, so good.”
Finch has visions of a future food truck, which she figures would be helpful in scouting the right markets for additional locations. But that’s down the road. For now, the focus is on shop No. 1. She and her husband, Matt – who works in marketing for a concrete company – were originally torn between Lancaster and Quarryville for a shop. They decided to stay close to home.
“My husband graduated from Solanco and he really loved it … He just really wanted to stay in Quarryville,” she says. “I’m a transplant to Quarryville … and I’ve seen that when they gather around you, they really are super supportive. We thought that it would be a good place to start.”
Here’s how Finch fielded our questions for small business newbies:
If you could do it over again, would you still open during a pandemic? You know what? I think we would. Everybody wanted to get out. So opening in the middle of it actually helped us.
Do you think a lot about how things would be different if you opened in a time without COVID? We’ve thought about it. We were just really fortunate that we opened when we did. With the cost of the things we were building and buying, had we waited until the pandemic was mostly over – like now – everything would have been twice as expensive.
Customers often want to share advice with new businesses. What’s the best piece you’ve received so far? When I first opened, we had a man come in who actually had been the owner of Solanco Video, which was previously in our shop. He just said make sure you always carry a coupon around. I mean it’s a business card, but it’s a coupon. He owns Tanglewood Golf Course now and he always has that. It’s good marketing. It’s good word-of-mouth. I’ve gone by that and it’s helped tremendously getting people in the door and finding out where we are. .… He gave me one for a free round of golf and I gave it to my husband. I saw how excited my husband was about a round of golf and I thought I’m going to do that. Free food. Who doesn’t want a free doughnut?
Was there an intriguing but probably-best-to-file-on-the shelf piece of advice? We’ve definitely gotten a lot of that -- people telling me how to do my recipe. I’ll listen if it seems like it might be a decent flavor. But if you’re actually telling me how to change my dough recipe? For the most part, I’m going to file that away.
Adjective that best describes the climate for small businesses in Lancaster County? It’s more of a noun, but ‘rollercoaster.’ It’s so up and down.
Ena Soma Wellness
Dia Coover uses the products she sells.
Her “Sore No More” – a tea blended with herbs like St. John’s Wort and yarrow – is a particular go-to for Coover. At 27, she still feels the effects of the Lyme disease she was diagnosed with at age 6.
“I still test positive for Lyme. So I’ve had to learn ways to just get along better with it,” she says.
Others looking for ways to take care of themselves are the target demographic for the business Coover started about six months ago. She named it Ena Soma Wellness. That’s Greek for “one body.”
“I actually had this idea about four years ago. But I was, I guess, holding back and disqualifying myself,” she says. “I thought, ‘I still struggle with my own health stuff. Maybe one day when I feel better or when I have this degree.’ I was just kind of pushing it off.”
Then came some life coaching.
“I was getting coached on something else ministry-wise,” she says. “And it was through that that I decided if I can do that, I can do this other idea, too.”
Her products are sold online, at a market stand in New Jersey owned by some friends, a wellness center in Bloomsburg owned by another friend and – as of October – at a space in Columbia’s Kindred Collection gift shop. That’s about 10 minutes from where Coover lives in Marietta. Coover says a friend introduced her to the folks who run Kindred and that they were interested because customers often ask for teas and honey.
Coover also sells the latter. She sources it from beekeepers around Mount Joy and infuses it with things like lavender, elderberry and hibiscus.
If you could do it over again, would you still open during a pandemic? I would. For me, it was pandemic aside. I personally feel like this was a calling, something God wants me to do. ... From a business standpoint, I work part time for a functional medicine office as a new patient coordinator. In the functional medicine world, in the holistic world, ever since the pandemic began, people are actually wanting to invest in themselves. … How can I care for myself mentally? What can I do to strengthen my immune system? I’ve done well thus far – maybe just because of the nature of the business. … So it was good timing. Definitely not the best time for everybody. But for me … I would not change a thing.
Do you think a lot about how things would be different if you opened in a time without COVID? I don’t really know if opening it pre-COVID would have made a difference.
Customers often want to share advice with new businesses. What’s the best piece you’ve received so far? I have a friend who … owns a couple of businesses. ... From the beginning he was very honest. He said, “Just so you know, nothing is going to be monetarily worth it at first. You’re doing this to help people so just focus on that … meeting people and getting your market share up. ... Just go out there and let people see your heart and see what you’re about.”
Was there an intriguing but probably-best-to-file-on-the shelf piece of advice? I’ve had people ask for me to make CBD or hemp type of things … and my answer right now is no. I actually make a couple things that I use personally but I won’t sell. One, because anyone who wants to make hemp or CBD things just has such a hard time with all of the hoops that you have to jump through to sell it. And two, my heart is for everyone but my passion really is for marginalized people groups and to make things available for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them. So I work a lot with people with addiction and their families and things like that. For me, it was just kind of like, I’m not trying to trigger anyone. I understand they’re different. But, yeah, that’s one thing a lot of people are looking for but I’m just not sure how to market.
Adjective that best describes the climate for small businesses in Lancaster County? I don’t really know how to put it into a word. From my experience so far – not just for my own business but from supporting others – so many people do want to support local businesses.