Johnnie Mize opened West End Gallery & Decor along with co-owner Eddie Kier in Galveston, Texas, in October. His shop carries wall art, throw pillows, furniture, and housewares with a coastal aesthetic. The retail shop — and selling merchandise at local trade shows — fits in comfortably with Mize’s other gig as a human-resources consultant.
The GoPayment Blog recently chatted with Mize about being a retailer, hiring employees, and accepting mobile payments.
GoPayment: What prompted you to open the store?
Mize: We’re located across the street from the beach, and it’s the only full retail store on the west end of Galveston Island in Jamaica Beach. The space became available, and it previously had been a retail store of a similar type. They had been absent for about six months. The landlord gave me an offer to pick up the lease on it at a very reasonable cost, so I decided to fill that need.
What were your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenges I had were setting up a bank account and getting charge card operations in place.
Is that what led you to GoPayment? How does your store use it?
We use it in the store with our iPhones and our iPad. We’re completely wireless: We don’t have any landlines. We also use it at trade shows. We’re quite frequently offered to go to a home-and-garden show or a bridal show, so we use it when we travel off-site.
Did you face any other challenges?
I guess being able to get inventory in place, setting it up, having to travel to the markets to be able to purchase merchandise at a wholesale price. We opened a little earlier than anticipated due to public pressure, and keeping ourselves online and ordering things from wholesalers in advance allowed us to stock the store pretty well for the season. We had Thanksgiving and Christmas to face, but we had an unbelievably good holiday season.
How is the economic climate in your area?
Galveston is located 60 miles south of Houston, and I think that we’re seeing a lot more activity in the Galveston area because people aren’t traveling as much to faraway destinations. They’re staying closer to home, so it has certainly afforded us a very strong client base. Now I have one other full-time employee and one part-time employee.
You also work as a human-resources consultant, so could you tell us about your hiring process?
I look at their background and skill set to see if they’ve had experience related to that type of business. I don’t really have a lot of time to train people, so I’m seeking individuals who would bring something immediately to the store. I hired a store manager who had previous experience working in Galveston for an antique store, which was extremely valuable. They could manage the merchandising and ordering.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to expand our ability to manage our stock electronically. I’ve switched over everything to QuickBooks. We bought Intuit’s Point of Sale Retail, and we’re in the process of setting everything up in there. It’ll keep track of our inventory, so we don’t have to do physical counts. It will allow us to keep track of what’s selling and order things more precisely. There are surprises everyday. We are in a strip center, and there is space available, so we’re expanding. We took in another 500 square feet, and now we’re adding 1,200 square feet. In total, we’ll be close to 4,000 square feet! That’s in just a matter of five months. You can see that our volume has far surpassed what we anticipated.