Moline’s Watermark Corners Offers Distinctly Charming Gifts
QuadCities.com is offering a series of features running today between 2 and 5 p.m. showcasing local businesses in advance of Small Business Saturday.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind item to cherish this holiday season, with the personality and charm of a watermark, you’ll want to check out WaterMark Corners, a 21-year-old gift shop at 1500 River Drive, Moline.
Amy Trimble, co-owner of the store, says she historically does half of their entire year’s business in the fourth quarter, between October and December, and a full 25 percent of their revenue is typically in December alone.
Given the ubiquity and difficulty of covid during 2020, however, Trimble has had a very tough year and is worried about the last month.
“Comparing to normal years, sales are significantly down everywhere, unless you’re Amazon or Target,” she said Wednesday, noting last week, on top of a historically low sales year, the week before Thanksgiving — the heaviest sales period of the year – WaterMark closed to customers because of the new Illinois restrictions.
“We have a lot of traffic on Black Friday weekend, and even limiting to 8 or 10 people is very hard for us to control,” Trimble said. “Usually, we can have 40, 50 people in the store at one time. Right now, everyone’s trying to do the best we can. People get upset when we tell them no; we want to keep our staff safe, follow the mandate, and keep everyone as happy as possible.”
Her store is only open by private appointment (which severely limits sales) — available Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Two appointments are allowed per half hour, with a maximum two customers per appointment. Masks properly covering nose and mouth are required while in the store.
Instead of their annual Holiday Open House (which attracts hundreds of customers in one three-hour event), WaterMark Corners had a
weeklong open house earlier this month, with specials. It took the entire week to generate the sales the one-day open house usually did, Trimble said.
“The detriment to being appointment only is we don’t have the customers who come in on whim, to stop into WaterMark or just browse,” she said. “We’re missing out on that. There’s not as much this year because people are so careful. We have people having to make an effort to shop with us – they have to make the appointment or call ahead.”
While the store had a website for years, it was more to show off products and encourage in-person shopping, not for buying online. Trimble said that within two weeks after the March 2020 shutdown, they overhauled the site to offer true e-commerce, with curbside pickup at the store and free shipping for orders of at least $50.
Earlier this week, she posted on Facebook about the dilemma facing local businesses.
“I KNOW how easy it is to shop on Amazon and get free 2-day shipping, and how great it is to save a dollar or two…or three,” Trimble posted. “But PLEASE remember that all of your local retail stores are desperately hurting right now and need every single sale. Amazon WILL survive COVID. Your local retail store may very well not.
“I am not speaking just for my store — I am doing everything in my power to ensure that we survive this challenge,” she wrote. “I am saying this for literally EVERY mainstreet business. SHOP LOCAL. If you don’t, 6 months or a year from now, Amazon may be your only choice.”
Trimble thinks the “Keep It QC” program, put together by the Chamber of Commerce to help local businesses this year, is wonderful.
“There really is no down side to the businesses to participate. I think it’s a great program,” she said. “The importance of shopping local, I was seeing posts about game ideas and a link to Amazon. I get how easy that is, I get it. I really work very hard to only order things online, if I can’t get it locally.
“Amazon is going to be fine, but every day we’re hearing about restaurants and small businesses closing,” Trimble said. “January and February are going to be dismal. I’m projecting we will do about 50 to 70 percent less in January and February than we normally do. That’s why this is a make-or-break time.
“This year it’s scary, we aren’t going to have the cushion we’ve had,” she said. “I’m confident my business will survive. I’m very worried others don’t have the capacity. It’s hard; it’s exhausting.”
Trimble has been big into social media several years, and has stepped it up this year to help boost business. She started an “Insiders” Facebook group for WaterMark, which has over 130 members who get access to special offers.
Trimble and store manager Courtney Blucker also started Facebook Live videos over the summer, to showcase products and include a random giveaway each week (Saturdays at 3 p.m.). WaterMark also will have a “Countdown to Christmas” giveaway every day from Dec. 1 to 24, Trimble said. For more information, visit www.watermarkcorners.com.