Case Study: Tradeshop.com

Jun 18th, 2015
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To understand how Ray Elsey built his online business, you have to go back to the time before the Internet, before the shopping mall, back to the era of the little corner shop. These stores were usually homey little affairs, low on flash, but the proprietors worked with customers individually, and they were typically lifelong experts in their craft. Imagine one of these little shops on the Internet and you have Ray Elsey'sTradeshop.com. A master jeweler, Elsey has worked as a jewelry craftsman since the '60s. His days are spent at the workbench, turning customer desires into reality using gold, diamonds, platinum and other precious substances.

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Case Study: Tradeshop.comBy James MaguireJune 10, 2003To understand how Ray Elsey built his online business, you have to go back to the time before the Internet, before the shopping mall, back to the era of the little corner shop. These stores were usually homey little affairs, low on flash, but the proprietors worked with customers individually, and they were typically lifelong experts in their craft. Imagine one of these little shops on the Internet and you have Ray Elsey'sTradeshop.com. A master jeweler, Elsey has worked as a jewelry craftsman since the '60s. His days are spent at the workbench, turning customer desires into reality using gold, diamonds, platinum and other precious substances. True to his roots, Portland, Oregon-based Elsey is more of a craftsman than a businessman. He does no advertising. "I do none at all," he explains. No banner ads, no affiliate programs, no paid search engine listings. His sole mass e-mailing was when his brother-in-law became seriously ill and Elsey informed customers that he would take donations. The only promotion Elsey ever engaged in was when he frequented newsgroups such as rec.craft.jewelry shortly after launching his site in 1994. "I'd go there and civilians would come in and professionals would ask questions and I'd answer them, and pretty soon they asked me to be the moderator." According to Elsey, his popularity was due to word of mouth from satisfied customers, which ultimately drew more and more visitors to his

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