Saturday, October 5, 2013

Instagram = Instasales?

Who knew?

I'm not really sure when I started using Instagram for business. I do know that I started long enough ago that I had forgotten I had already set up a business page for Grove Street Kids, and then had to create a new one... But I guess the more important question is... why did I start using it for business?

At our former home on MLK Jr. Way (old Grove Street) GSk was located in an old style, quintessential Berkeley building that had two lovely bay windows on either side of the front entrance. Those of you who have been "following" us before Instagram even existed, knew us for our windows and the photos we posted to our website. Each week, after the window dressings were changed or a new theme was presented, many photos were taken on the store camera (what's that?), downloaded to the computer, edited in Photoshop and then uploaded to our website and/or Facebook, so our customers could get a glimpse of what our shop looked like or what was coming into the shop that week.

When we moved to our new location, though excited for the new bigger and brighter space, the windows, though many, lacked the same "charm" shall we say, and thus we were presented with some challenges as to how to continue our reputation....

I imagine that I must have seen a photo posted to a "friends" Facebook page, in the format of a square with some sort of cool filter. It intrigued me, and upon some investigation, I discovered that the photo was taken with a program, or better known as an "App" that could take the photo, format, filter and frame it all in one shot! Not only that, it could be uploaded to Facebook at the same time!

The multi-tasker in me was elated! Oh, the time it would save! "Time" being that ever-elusive thing that most folks, (especially business owners!) never seems to have enough of.... right? So, I downloaded the App and started snapping away. During the move, I documented the progress and the buzz and excitement it generated thru our Facebook page was incredible! From the "Insights" tab on our administrators page I could see in the weeks that followed just how much activity our pictures were generating... it was pretty exciting.

But comments and "likes" were coming, of course from folks who were already "following" us either on Instagram or Facebook already. Of course, what we really wanted was to generate more "likes," and more "followers." But how did we get to be one of those pages, you know, the ones with the little "k" after the number because they have so many?

Well, I would be kidding myself to think we'd ever get that many likes or followers, but I was hopeful we would get more than a couple dozen, which was where we were at just a few months ago. But just posting the pictures wasn't enough, so how to get more? It was my 12 y.o. daughter who enlightened me to the concept of the "hashtag." I didn't quite get it at first, thinking that hashtagging was something that one "tweeted" or whatever, and GSK was not on Twitter. "No," she grunted, with the rolling of the eyes that can often accompany any conversation with a tween... "hashtagging a photo will allow others who don't follow you to see your photos, and if they like them, they can start following you!"

Brilliant! I thought. More "followers" on Instagram would translate to more "likes" on our Facebook page, which would then translate to more business! (The long story of that is that, supposedly, the more interaction folks have between our website and social media pages, the higher up in the search engines we get when someone searches for "kids resale" or "used children's clothing" and the like....). So there it was, the answer to my advertising problem, and so I started "hashtagging" away on our "New in the Shop" photos... #gymboree #janieandjack, #miniboden...#teacollection.

Not too many hours had passed that I started getting notifications from Instagram on my phone... "chloes_mommy likes your photo"..."didianddot likes your photo"... and so on. Within an hour of the most recent post, we had 8new followers on Instagram and 5 new page likes on Facebook! This was historical! And so exciting! Then, notifications like "Size?", "Price?" and "Do you ship?" followed shortly.


Do we ship? Well, no, we hadn't since no one had ever asked. So, I thought, "Should we?" And so I posted responses to their questions like "Please email us your interests at" And they came. From New Jersy. From Minnesota. From British Columbia. I kid you not. Emails and phone calls from moms across the country.... as close as San Jose and as far as Washington, DC. or Philadelphia, it went on. And on. One gal, a former customer of mine, went thru all of our photo albums on Facebook and made a list of the items she was interested in, that topped 65 items! Turned out we still had about 20 left. So did I ship them? Sure enough!

But then I started getting requests, not just for shipping, but for more photos! "Can you take photos of anything in size 3T and email them to me?" Some of the requests got a bit out of hand, enough so that I started to stress and lose sleep. The reason being is that I wanted to accommodate folks, but I could only do so much. I was trying to still run my shop, after all. Why didn't they understand this? I had changed our profile "about us" to say that items were available for purchase in our shop - translate: we do not ship. But still week after week I still get the comment "Do you ship?"

One of the gals who contacted me, came into the shop to purchase the items she had asked me to hold, and explained it all. Turns out Instagram is now the alternative to eBay for buying and selling... that there are groups on Facebook for the same, and once your photos get "tagged" then your photo gets clicked on and the questions and comments get posted. Which explained why people were asking about photos I uploaded weeks ago, let alone days... and not seeing the info "about us" - they weren't actually going to our Instagram page, but rather following photos in a feed under that now infamous "hashtag."

In the end, though we have more than tripled our number of followers in just a few weeks, I have decided to let go of the idea of trying to please the many around the country, and focus solely on the many that are local and "regulars"to our pages and our shop. I will continue to use Instagram as the app it was originally intended, as a photo-sharing site, that we can share with Facebook to generate interest in our new arrivals each week. We hope that, if you don't already, you will follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook so you too, can be the first in the know. And if you have any questions about an item that you like or see on either page, please just drop us an email with your interests to!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

What to be for Halloween, A hobo or a bride? A witch or scary goblin, Its not easy to decide.

Originally published in October of 2010, our feelings haven't changed....

Halloween is undoubtedly the favorite time of year at GROVE STREET kids. The windows are particularly fun to decorate and the folks that are drawn in by them are so excited to see what awaits beyond our store front displays. GROVE STREET kids likes to offer a wide range of costumes but, as well, bits and bobs so that the creative soul (pun intended!) has the opportunity to come to life!

And a HUGE thanks to Red Tricycle, for mentioning us in their article "15 Great Shops to Score Halloween Costumes" - scroll down to see us in the East Bay section...

Or visit our Facebook album Back to Ghoul! for a few ideas!

Be sure and post pictures of your kiddos in their GSK costumes on Facebook starting in Novemeber for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

GROVE STREET kids has once again been nominated in Red Tricycle's Totally Awesome Awards as the "Most Awesome Kids Consignment and Resale Shop" in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Yes, we have won this award before (2012) and other awards (thanks to all of you and your support). But what does it get us besides a piece of paper to frame and put on our wall? The short answer is, advertising.... that's free. For small businesses, this is an invaluable tool. In this case, Red Tricycle will:

  • send out a dedicated email to it's over 500,000 readers on September 1st. (That's a lot of exposure!) 
  • The winners will be listed on their site throughout the year with a link back to the winners’ websites. 
  • Each winner will receive a Q&A profile published on that highlights their business and what makes them totally awesome.
  • Each winner will receive one free Hot List listing. Red Tricycle's Hot List is distributed once per month and details sales and deals in each local market, respectively. 

These are but a few of the advantages of winning this kind of award. Which translates into sales, which then sustains our business! So if you think we're "totally awesome," we hope you will take a moment to vote for us (by clicking the link above or the badge below) - and then let us know! Send us an email by simply replying to this message, telling us you voted, and we will enter your email address into our drawing for one of three gift certificates worth $25! Winners will be announced on our Facebook page (and notified by email) following the announcement of the Red Tricycle Winners (whether we win or not) on or around September 1st. We really do appreciate your support and patronage, and think you are "totally awesome" too.


Monday, June 24, 2013

The Times They Are A-Changin'

It's hard to believe, but it's been just about a year since GROVE STREET kids moved from old "Grove Street" to our new location at 1385 Shattuck Avenue.

My how the time does fly! Some days, it feels like this has been our home the whole time, others feel like we just moved in... And as we reflect back on the last 12 months, we've discovered that some of our methods and procedures that served us well in the old location haven't felt quite right in the new... and so we've had to change some things to "fit" into the new space....

The first and most obvious was to become computerized with our inventory and sales procedures. Welcome to the 21st Century! But with that some complications presented themselves of how to manage store-owned inventory versus items on consignment. So to streamline the process and, in the long run, make things easier for everyone, we have changed our purchasing policy to **consignment-based ** for children's clothing and shoes, as well as maternity and baby gear.

We still offer the same percentages to our customers for cash and trade for their items, however that part comes only after the items haves sold. For all the specifics on how this works, please check our website which always includes information on what we are looking for at the shop.

One of the advantages to consigning our inventory, vs. buying straight out, is that we can take a bit more risk in what we offer to our customers, including bigger sizes! And last, but certainly not least, your frequent buyer discount is now combinable with your store credit. How's that for a change?

On a final note, as is tradition for GROVE STREET kids we will be closing briefly in July for maintenance & updates (and maybe a wee bit of relaxation?) starting with the 4th of July holiday until the 13th. We will reopen repaired and refreshed in time for our 1 year anniversary in our new location and our 6 year anniversary of being in business!

In recognition of our anniversary, visit us any time between July16-31, mention you read our blog and get 40% off any non-sale or already discounted item. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Want up to the moment information on promotions, discounts and items available in the shop? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest and Instagram!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Every Day is Earth Day!

Kermit the Frog may not have liked having to spend each day the color of the leaves, thinking it could be nicer being red, or yellow, or gold or something much more colorful like that, but here at GROVE STREET kids, we are very happy to be green! And we are happy to have been Re-Certified as a Green Business here in our new location at 1385 Shattuck Avenue.

So what does it mean to be Green? Well, after submitting the application and filling out extensive questionnaires about our business practices, it ultimately means that we meet or exceed all the stringent guidelines proposed by the County of Alameda for waste management and recycling, that we comply with all environmental regulations, and take steps to conserve natural resources, prevent pollution and reduce waste.

We had inspections by PG&E, EBMUD and the City of Berkeley. Some of our practices include using environmentally-friendly cleaning products, use energy-efficient lighting and use practices (ie.timers), and use supply vendors that reduce waste in their packaging whenever possible, to name a few. We passed all of our inspections with flying colors!

So for GROVE STREET kids, every day is Earth Day. And, in gratitude for supporting our green business by shopping and recycling with us, we'd like to offer our customers a special coupon! Come on down to the shop any day this week for 40% off any one non-discounted item! No need to print out the coupon(save a tree!) just let us know when you come into the shop this week that you got our email, and we will apply the discount on the spot!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spring is in the Air!

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. -- An end to winter's bitter cold will come soon, according to Pennsylvania's famous groundhog. Following a recent stretch of weather that's included temperatures well below freezing as well as record warmth, tornadoes in the South and Midwest and torrential rains in the mid-Atlantic, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair Saturday in front of thousands but didn't see his shadow.

Legend has it that if the furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2 on Gobbler's Knob in west-central Pennsylvania, winter will last six more weeks. But if he doesn't see his shadow, spring will come early.

The prediction is made during a ceremony overseen by a group called the Inner Circle. Members don top hats and tuxedos for the ceremony on Groundhog Day each year.

Bill Deeley, president of the Inner Circle, says that after "consulting" with Phil, he makes the call in deciphering what the world's Punxsutawney Phil has to say about the weather.

Phil is known as the "seer of seers" and "sage of sages." Organizers predicted about 20,000 people this weekend, a larger-than-normal crowd because Groundhog Day falls on a weekend this year.*

Personally, I am a huge fan of warm weather, especially after some of the unseasonably cold nights we've had here in the Bay Area. But I am also a huge fan of winter sports, ie. skiing, as are our customers. So what does this mean for GROVE STREET kids? It means that we are transitioning into Spring Merchandise, based on the inquiries of our customers (ie. do you have any bathing suits?) yet we still have plenty of cold weather clothing to choose from, and given that it is only the beginning of February, and Ski Week is almost upon us, please stop by to see what remains in our collection of snow gear!

*Credit Huffington Post

Friday, January 25, 2013


Our guess is that, by now, most have you have started getting into the habit of shopping with your own reusable bags, now that Alameda County has placed a ban on the use of plastic bags in grocery stores or other retail establishments that handle food (ie. Target, CVS).

As a Certified Green Business, it has always been GROVE STREET kids' policy to only use recycled bags, be them paper or plastic, but mostly plastic as the sheer quantity has been more readily available to us. For some time, however, our customers, who are naturally inclined toward recycling and protecting the environment, have rarely taken bags from us if they didn't already have their own.

That said, when it rains, or the amount of items a customer purchases requires it, those bags have come in awful handy. But now that the grocery stores are no longer providing the plastic bags, and paper ones are costing customers 10¢ apiece, when GROVE STREET kids runs out of our own supply, we will be requesting that our customers B.Y.O.B.... Bring Your Own Bag!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year

Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey

We could not have said it better ourselves! 2012 brought about a lot of change for us at GROVE STREET kids – new location, new hours, new systems. But some of those changes won't stay, as we figure out what worked best for us and where we still need to make improvements to better serve our customers in 2013!

When we moved to Shattuck Avenue, we extended our business hours on Wednesday and Thursday to coincide with Off The Grid and the North Berkeley Farmers' Market, respectively. The city of Berkeley decided not to renew their contract with the Off The Grid powers that be and will be our neighbor no more. So with that, when we reopen on the 8th, we will go back to closing at 6 pm on Wednesdays, (and possibly Thursdays, at least during the winter).

One of our biggest changes for 2013 will be converting our entire inventory to a computerized system. This has been and, continues to be, a daunting task but we hope that you will find it makes our system more streamlined between our resale, consignment and vendor inventory, not to mention keeping track of everyone's trade balances and purchases! But it is a process, and we are still learning as well, so we hope you will bear with us through this change and opportunity to get it right!

For more updates or just to be reminded of what's happening over at the shop, be sure to visit our website, "like us" on Facebook or follow us on Instagram!

So, with that, we hoped you enjoyed your holidays, and appreciate your patience while we were closed to do the aforementioned inventory and to spend time with our families. GROVE STREET kids looks forward to seeing you in 2013!