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PIECES OF VERMONT

Owned & operated by
RES eCom, Inc.
PO Box 578
Jacksonville, VT 05342
800-507-7721
About Us   Contact Us shim

   

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About PiecesOfVermont.com
"PIECES OF VERMONT"®

Shipping orders directly from Vermont since 2000


Rick Smith, PIECES OF VERMON Founder 1999: The business RES eCom, Inc. was founded in 1999 by Rick Smith who grew up in Grafton and Wilmington, Vermont, skied at Mount Snow ski resort for years and was an avid trout fisherman. He has two Bachelor Degrees; one in Mechanical Engineering and one in Information Technology. After a short career as a Manufacturing Engineer in the Aerospace Machining industry, Rick's life changed dramatically with a spinal cord injury, and he was forced to change careers.

"Life dealt me a pretty heavy blow and the career I loved as a Manufacturing Engineer, simply wasn't practical any longer. So, in 1999 I decided that since I was so familiar with Vermont, why not create a website to help some of Vermont's smaller businesses sell Vermont specialty foods, maple syrup products, and woodenware items over the Internet. I contracted a marketing firm who came up with the phrase PIECES OF VERMONT® as the most appropriate way to describe the services and products I intended to incorporate into the site. The web address www.PiecesOfVermont.com (POVT) was then registered, and after a 4 month development time, the website was launched and we started shipping orders from Vermont in early 2000." - Rick, Founder

PiecesOfVermont.com Logo 2000 - 2006: Over the years the website has gone through several development phases and numerous revisions. Today the website holds it's own against larger Vermont Direct Mail Order businesses. The website is easily found in Google.com, as well as Yahoo!, and maintains a reputation as a grass-roots website offering Vermont wares with 1-to-1 direct customer service. Currently the website has four primary businesses drop-shipping products directly from Vermont.

"We have a wonderful group of folks involved with POVT, and we cross-stock most of our items so that orders can ship from various locations depending on what's included in each order. It's a model that's worked well," says Rick.

The website originally focused on selling Vermont gift baskets, Grade B maple syrup, Vermont cheese gifts, select specialty foods, and traditional maple sugar candy shapes, as well as stoneware pottery, wooden salad bowls, Maple Landmark toys, soy candles, and few other products.

"Almost all the items sold here I've handled at one time or another, many of which, such as the barbecue sauces, Granny Blossom salsas, and cheeses, I myself eat regularly," says Rick. "And when the holidays roll around, you can bet there's maple fudge and maple candy going to my friends and family."

2007: Though RES eCom, Inc. was originally founded in 1999 as a NY corporation, in 2007 the corporation was re-established in VT and dissolved in NY. Since the first order was shipped in 2000, and to this day, 80% of the revenue generated from POVT has gone to Vermont small businesses. The corporation has been extremely pleased with Chittenden Bank of Vermont, now owned by People's Bank, which has branch locations in Vermont and throughout New England.

The goal of the company has always been to help some of Vermont's smaller merchants increase sales by reaching more customers on the World Wide Web, without increasing costs to those merchants. The lion's share of the profit continues to go directly to Vermont small businesses, such as the Robb Family Farm of W. Brattleboro, Vermont. The Robb Farm is a small, 3rd generation dairy farm that like most small farms has had it's share of challenges in recent years. POVT has significantly helped owners Helen and Charlie Robb Sr. expand the farm's mail order business to augment the dairy income, specializing in unique maple sugar candy gifts, cheddar cheese gifts, and personalized wedding favors.

POVT has also been instrumental in helping MAPLE CITY CANDY, a small, old-fashioned candy store in Northern, Vermont, generate online sales. As store competition draws more and more "walk in traffic" away to larger big box stores, online sales have become increasingly important to their bottom line.

"I love MAPLE CITY CANDY. Store owner and candy-maker Chad Metayer has been an integral part of POVT's success, helping to develop our unique maple sugar candy shapes, as well as CHAMP - The Monster of all Maple Candy®, one of our first luxury maple candy shapes," says Rick.

"Chad's store reminds me of Fletchers, an old-time drug and candy store in Bellows Falls, Vermont (long since out of business). Fletchers was the sort of store where you could find just about anything from balsa wood toy airplanes to Teaberry gum. The space was cramped, but you always found what you needed at Fletchers. It was friendly small store service. We all miss mom-and-pop stores like that. We're very pleased that MAPLE CITY CANDY is thriving and part of POVT."

2010: The website was retooled and more focused in 2010, specializing on Premium Maple Sugar Candy and Chocolate-Maple Candy gifts, while maintaining a strong customer base who also purchase pure Grade B maple syrup, Vermont cheese Gifts, Vermont Bowl Company wooden bowls and cutting boards, maple wedding favors, and a select shelf of Vermont specialty foods that are incorporated into a successful "Build a Gift Basket" shopping experience.

2011: 'Pieces Of Vermont' Assembled Online article is featured in the Winter/Spring 2010-2011 issue of Southern Vermont Adventures magazine.

Southern Vermont Adventures magazine 'Pieces of Vermont' Assembled Online
By Cicely M. Eastman
Brattleboro Reformer www.reformer.com
Reprinted with permisssions 01/10/11

Mention Vermont and images of stonewalls under the shade of roadside maples and snowy mountain top views that take your breath away spring to mind. Vermont has attracted travelers to the state for over 100 years to enjoy its beauty, and merchandisers know well the marketing value that comes with describing their product as 'Made in Vermont.'

Wind back the clock 50 years - along Vermont highways clapboard buildings and repurposed barns sported signs boasting 'Vermont Gifts,' promising travelers a piece of Vermont as a souvenir. Then, as those familiar country style gift shops began to vanish from Vermont's changing landscape, so did consumers' tastes change. Today 'Made in Vermont' is synonymous with high quality products that are distinctly different and uniquely Vermont, thanks to a plethora of skilled artisans and specialty farms that have helped fill the void left by disappearing dairy farms. Rick Smith took notice. In the mid '90s Rick, a computer programmer for aerospace machinery, was seeking a new direction after a diving accident left him with a spinal-cord injury, making it difficult for him to continue in his field. It seemed to him that these small businesses would do well to have a common web site to sell their wares, so in 2000 he launched www.piecesofvermont.com. Ten years later his vision is still the same - provide Vermont merchants increased exposure to create additional sales, and for his efforts Rick receives a commission from the sales and the nod of a job well done.

Southern Vermont Adventures article Not just any business is a good fit for the site though. Rick looks for what he calls synergy, businesses that work well with the other businesses on the site, and offer visitors a truly Vermont experience. In return, Rick uses his talent to do something that is not as easy as it looks - present their merchandise on the web in an attractive and appealing way. He does need to be discerning about prospective vendors. Though most vendors see positive results, when the fit isn't quite right, or as Rick says, the synergy isn't there, a redesign is needed to remove the non-selling products, a time-consuming process. Rick stresses that PIECES OF VERMONT® serves as a supplement to a business' existing website, to double exposure, not to be in competition with it.

Under the PIECES OF VERMONT'S banner, creatively sprinkled with puzzle pieces and maple leaves, there are three participating businesses from southern Vermont that help create that synergy that Rick strives for: The Vermont Bowl Company in Wilmington, Robb Family Farm Sugarhouse in West Brattleboro, and Baked Apples at Shearer Hill Farm in Halifax. John Mcleod of The Vermont Bowl Company was impressed with other sites developed by Rick, aka RES eCom, Inc., and sought him out to rescue his own lackluster web site. The result was not only a beautifully redesigned and efficient new Vermont Bowl Company site, but also a place on Rick's PIECES OF VERMONT.

One of Rick's original clients and a staple on the site, John McLeod is a prime example of the fine craftsmen represented there. John immigrated from Scotland in 1967 as a skilled engineer. His journey eventually landed him in southern Vermont, where he began practicing his hobby in a friend's workshop. This earned John the reputation as an exceptional woodturner and in 1996 he incorporated the Vermont Bowl Company to meet the demands of some very high-end names. Today he produces the finest wooden salad bowls and cutting boards to adorn the shelves of William-Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, Saks Fifth Avenue, just to name a few, and of course the virtual shelves of Pieces of Vermont. Click on the Vermont Bowl Co. link and you'll find not just cutting boards, but gorgeous tables that look like silk to touch and an array of wedding gifts from cherry European candle sticks to black walnut deep dishes that will delight even the pickiest of newlyweds.

"It's like getting two bites to the cherry." John said of his relationship with PIECES OF VERMONT®, enjoying the benefits of both web sites. John reveals the secret to his success, and to other successful businesses, is the combination of quality and longevity. For a hands on experience of the brick and mortar store, the Vermont Bowl Company store is located on the main drag in Wilmington, west on Route 9, about 3/4 mile past the lights. Look for the geese on the rooftop!

Helen Robb at her Country Shop As the name suggests, Robb Family Farm Sugarhouse's specialty is their maple syrup. Nestled on a flat at the base of Ames Hill in West Brattleboro, Robb's Family Farm is a sixth generation farm, one of a handful of surviving dairy farms still in operation in the state. As it became tougher for the Robb Farm to make a living from their Holsteins alone, Helen Robb marketed the farm's sugaring products as a means to help save the farm. She began packing and shipping mail order gifts out of their Country Shop Store, conveniently located next to the farm's maple sugarhouse, filling orders generated from internet sales, initially from www.robbfamilyfarm.com - although currently undergoing a redesign. But according to Helen their internet sales have increased 75 percent in the last five years since they joined PIECES OF VERMONT®. So much so that the Robbs now have plans in place to build a kitchen where they will make their own candy, and Karen Robb is learning the art of candy making. At present Maple City Candy (also a member of PIECES OF VERMONT®) is their candy supplier, but with the addition of their own confectionery, Helen sees an advantage of increased sales and the ability to fill orders more quickly.

Wedding favors are a big seller. Small maple leaf shaped glass jars filled with maple syrup personalized with silk ribbons and maple sugar candies are a nice treat for guests attending a wedding.

While the dairy farm's future still remains uncertain, Helen sees plenty of opportunities to grow their maple-related line of products. As for being part of the PIECES OF VERMONT® site, Helen said, "Rick Smith is a great guy to work with. He's well organized and innovative. It is wonderful to be part of PIECES OF VERMONT®."

Tucked away on a back road in Halifax is Baked Apples at Shearer Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast owned by Bill and Patti Pusey. The farm is far enough away from the bustle of the main highway to be relaxing and quiet, but still only minutes away from area events. Bill and Patti manage a working farm, which allows them the unique opportunity to offer their guests hands-on country experiences, whether it be gathering maple sap during sugaring season, enjoying freshly picked raspberries in the summer, or just waking up to the gentle sounds of cows mooing mingled with the aromas of morning coffee and Shearer Hill's signature baked apples. The apples are baked in ceramic apple bakers and the Puseys sell these bakers, paired with their maple syrup and that very special recipe, on PIECES OF VERMONT®. They are also found at www.shearerhillfarm.com on which the Puseys sell soy candles and maple syrup made at the farm, and you will find enticing reasons to stay at their bed and breakfast. You may recognize the highly professional tell tale signs of a web site developed by Rick.

Patti said, "As a support business of PIECES OF VERMONT® it has been a great asset being part of a team to provide Vermont products to all parts of the country."

Rick's vision for the site has not changed over the last decade, but he is steering it more in the direction of luxury maple products. He has high hopes for chocolate maple bark, an old-fashioned maple candy with a new twist - chocolate. This new delight was introduced last year by Maple City Candy of St. Albans, and Rick notes that although it has been slow to take off, attributing that to loyalty to traditional maple candies, he feels it will soon reveal its inner yummy. That's not to say other Vermont-made items won't continue to be on the site such as: Gift Baskets by Kim, Curtis' Bar-B-Q Sauce, Pure Raw Honey, Maple Landmark wooden toys, Salsa (yes, there are some mighty fine salsa makers in Vermont), smoked meats, and the newest addition, Tipped Cow Cookies of Vermont, with assorted scrumptious cookies... and much more.

The fact that Rick's site is still going strong even in the midst of a recession is testimony to the power of the 'Made in Vermont' slogan. Take a trip to www.piecesofvermont.com, a virtual highway gift shop; it is a great place to find quality gifts for others who may be feeling a tad bit homesick, or even for yourself! Or, if you think you may be a great candidate for Rick's site, give him a call at 800-507-7721.

**Courtesy of the Brattleboro Reformer www.reformer.com

PiecesOfVermont.com
"PIECES OF VERMONT"®

Owned & operated by
RES eCom, Inc.
PO Box 578
Jacksonville, VT 05342
800-507-7721
About Us   Contact Us
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