Authorize.Net Merchant Amy’s Candy Kitchen named “BEST  CARAMEL APPLE” by the Wall Street Journal and featured on the Food Network, tells us how their small chocolate shop in Cedarburg, Wisconsin achieved their success.

We spoke with Paula Heupel, VP of Sales, about their journey that began 20 years ago with a goal to perfect the art of the caramel apple.

What makes Amy’s award winning?

It comes down to our passion for quality, that's the Amy's difference. We use extra fancy jumbo granny smith apples in every luxurious caramel batch we make.  Our caramel is always freshly made by hand in small batches. Our toppings are hand packed and garnished on every single apple we produce by our chocolatiers. We use only velvety, world-class Belgian Chocolate from Brussels as our base chocolate in everything we make. This uncommon attention to detail gives you a gourmet apple beyond compare.

How did Amy’s go from being a small chocolate shop to such a big success?

We started by making Amy’s Candy Kitchen a destination for locals and tourists. People walking through downtown Cedarburg couldn’t resist the heavenly aroma of our caramel that fills our store. Our award winning caramel is hand made from premium quality natural ingredients in old world copper kettles which cooks our caramel at a slow consistency to provide a gourmet, buttery flavor that no one can match.

In 2002, our owner expanded the business and launched www.AmysGourmetApples.com making our best-selling apples available everywhere in the US and Canada. It's a favorite treat for so many people, so we're excited that Authorize.Net enables us to quickly and easily take orders online so we can offer our award winning caramel apples to customers even outside our Cedarburg community. 

How has the word about your amazing apples spread?

Our gourmet apples have been featured in many different media outlets including winning the "BEST OVERALL" by the Wall Street Journal. We have also been featured on the Food Network as well as Roker on the Road, Martha Stewart, Epicurious magazine and local news media.

What would be your business advice to other small businesses out there?

Focus on one thing and do it well. Once you’ve achieved success give back to the community that supported you and helped made you successful. Amy’s Candy Kitchen / Amy's Gourmet Apples takes pride in being a stronghold in the local Cedarburg community. We donate to the local Festivals, Chamber of Commerce, Santa’s Workshop, the local food pantry and rescue farms. By donating products and providing discounts to the local schools, churches, the Humane Society, among other county programs, we help to make Cedarburg a great place to live, work, and visit.

Amy's Candy Kitchen/Amy's Gourmet Apples would like to thank our customers, as well as the local community of Cedarburg for supporting our business for the past 20 years! Try Amy’s Gourmet Apples for yourself. www.AmysGourmetApples.com 

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We spoke with Amy Lebo, operations manager at Crazy Skates USA to learn the Crazy Skates story and the secret to their success.

Tell us about Crazy Skates.

Primarily focusing on roller skates and inline skates, Crazy Skates specializes in multiple markets within the industry. From roller rink rental skates and recreational children's skates to adult "retro" skates and roller derby equipment, we take pride in helping people enjoy what we believe is one of the most wonderful pastimes! We are based in Indianapolis, Ind., with headquarters in Australia. 

How did Crazy Skates get its start?

Our founder, John Moore, owned and operated a roller skating rink in Australia.  Not happy with the quality of skates available to his customers, John decided to create his own skates. Word spread and fellow rink owners asked John if they could purchase his skates for use at their rinks. What began in 2007 as a “crazy” idea has now developed into an internationally recognized roller skate brand of choice. 

What is special/unique about Crazy Skates?

Skate production is a competitive market with the focus being on price, which can lead to a decrease in quality. This is where Crazy Skates is different. We take all of our passion for people enjoying the pastime of roller skating and put that in the development and manufacturing of every product. We then figure out how we can produce a high quality product at the very best price. Traditionally, skate manufacturers work with wholesalers who in turn sell the skates to the end user. Crazy Skates acts as both the manufacturer and distributor, which helps us control costs.

What do you love about the roller skating business?

Roller skating is a pastime that has a way of bringing people together. Putting on a pair of skates allows us to enjoy the moment and the sensation that only being on eight wheels brings. Roller skating just tends to make people happy. It is more than just a sport. At Crazy Skates, our goal is to improve the experience people have when they ride skates. We truly believe that this is the quintessential difference between our brand and any other.  

How do you use Authorize.Net?

As the world moves faster, Crazy Skates has had to review the ways we serve our customers. The reliability and ease of Authorize.Net was a logical fit. Authorize.Net is fully integrated with our accounting system, which is critical for our supply chain management. We are happy to be associated with a payment provider that gives us flexibility, and most importantly, after-hours service to ensure that our payment system is operational at all times. Authorize.Net is our choice in both the USA and Australian operations. Just like us, Authorize.Net understands the needs of local financial transacting! Choosing Authorize.Net was and will remain part of our success story for years to come. A great partnership that truly keeps the wheels turning!

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Our Advice

Every business needs to give their customers a reason to buy from them and not elsewhere. That’s why we believe that building relationships with our customers is just as important as making sales. We believe that clearly understanding what it is your customers really want is at the center of every successful business. Once you have this understanding you can encourage potential and existing customers that buying from you is the best option.

Our Story:

Merchant Automotive provides industry leading customer service and support. The staff of professionals has intimate knowledge in all the Duramax/Allison platforms and is dedicated to achieving 100% customer satisfaction. Merchant Automotive provides highly specific technical information not found anywhere else. Many products are custom-designed and manufactured in-house to provide the customer maximized performance and reliability. The emphasis on product design and specialized manufacturing means that Merchant Automotive can offer low pricing on products not found at other companies.

Merchant Automotive was founded in 2004 by Eric Merchant. Eric got his start in high school where he discovered his passion for anything with a motor. He took his passion and turned it into a career in 1993 working in a small shop doing brakes and alignment work. He accumulated knowledge daily and soon took a position at a GM dealership in 1995, and advanced up the ranks over the next 10 years. Along the way, Eric dedicated himself to studying the business, taking over 3,000 hours of GM training and maintaining ASE Master Certification since 1998.

In April 2008, Merchant Automotive moved into its current location in Zeeland, MI. The move was a huge undertaking that involved a complete remodeling of the building. That building, having over 10,000 square feet of space, has allowed for greater expansion and a large retail front.

How We Use Authorize.Net

“We switched to Authorize.Net for their Advanced Fraud Detection Suite that comes as an additional service included with the monthly payment gateway,” says Jereco Price, marketing manager of Merchant Automotive. “Advanced Fraud Detection Suite helps us to identify, manage and prevent suspicious fraudulent transactions that with our previous service was becoming costly.” We now use Authorize.Net to accept payments on our website www.merchant-automotive.com. The website is the largest portion of our business but we also use Authorize.Net to accept payments in our retail shop and to check out customers in our service shop.

To learn more about Merchant Automotive, visit: www.merchant-automotive.com.

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Shayna Vest, of Dress Like A Pirate.com, an Authorize.Net merchant, shares her story and business advice.

Tell us about your business Dress Like A Pirate.com

Based out of Portland, Oregon, Dresslikeapirate.com is one of the world’s most popular theatrical costuming, pirate, theme wedding and roleplay garb sites.

I'm a single mom, entrepreneur, goddess and pirate and I started Dresslikeapirate.com in 1996. I was selling vintage clothing on eBay. One day I attended a co-workers wedding where all of the women dressed like fairies and the men like pirates! My passion found a niche market.

After receiving the first 75 pirate shirts and selling out in three weeks, I was told by the post office clerk “Did you know that September 19th is Talk Like A Pirate Day?” Well, I rushed home, looked it up, found out the Pirate Guys were right down the road in Albany, Oregon, and exclaimed, “You guys will be my friends for life!” I named the new venture Dresslikeapirate.com. To this day, the Pirate Guys are my friends, my son has played with Chumbucket’s son, and I dressed his wife for the pirate episode of Wife Swap.

What Makes You Successful?

I think what makes me successful is that I steer my vision to the road ahead and am constantly trying new ideas and ways of reaching people instead of trying to counter copycats and competitors. I've found my particular talent is the original ideas and designs.

What would be your advice to other small businesses out there?

My business advice to other entrepreneurs is based on inspiration I found in a book I read by Seth Godin, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. You have to have something that no one else has, or do it in a way no one else does, that’s what sets you apart.

How have you been able to reach this niche market?

Authorize.Net enables us to accept payments on our website so we can offer our high quality pirate costumes, clothing and accessories to the world. Authorize.Net is the only processing gateway I'll ever use. The customer service is fantastic. They've helped me in a number of situations that required extra information and help.

To learn more, visit www.Dresslikeapirate.com

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The Business

Since 1985, the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation (DSDC) has worked with the city, local downtown businesses and other community organizations to help drive revitalization efforts in Statesville, North Carolina. These efforts have included a massive downtown streetscape improvement project, a downtown marketing program and over 20 downtown events to help attract visitors and citizens to help grow the local business economy. 

The Challenge

In 2016, the DSDC wanted to find a way to promote downtown city events, including creating an online ticket purchasing solution and an online vendor booth application system. They also wanted their local bank, Yadkin Bank, to be the credit card processor.

DSDC Director Marin Tomlin contacted Cashklick, an innovative local marketing and technology company, to create various custom solutions to fulfil the needs.

The Solution

Cashklick created several custom pieces of software to help implement ticket sales and vendor applications, as well as promotional software to help market events. Cashklick’s solution included an events calendar on both the website and Facebook for ticket sales. Cashklick also provided DSDC with a promotional newsletter solution to help market events complete with "buy now" or "apply now" buttons.

This feature has proven popular with users who can now purchase tickets for events or sign up for tours. Vendors can use the system to apply for booth space and submit payment and gives DSDC the chance to approve each application via the backend.

“Cashklick is integrated with Authorize.Net and we are a resale partner,” says Sharon Wahrmund, VP product and operations. “Three years ago Cashklick switched to Authorize.Net when we started to experience some issues with another vendor. Cashklick takes ecommerce seriously, we searched for a reliable solution and a vendor that would work with us as a partner. Our team has been quite happy with the results too. The Authorize.Net solution is extremely dependable. We recommended using Authorize.Net's secure payment gateway solution and Virtual Point of Sale to DSDC to meet their online payment needs.”

The Result

The DSDC first event, a wine walk, sold out. The organization is currently setting up new events including a Ghost Tour, Hops & Harmony Craft Brew Fest, and Pumpkin Fest. Cashklick has future plans to expand even more programs with DSDC.

"By implementing these solutions, DSDC has helped spur our local economy and helped create our first sold out ticketed event," says Tomlin. “We’re very happy with the work that Cashklick provided and thanks to Authorize.Net we’re thrilled to be able to accept payments online and use our local banking credit card processor Yadkin Bank. It’s been a win/win for our local community."

To learn more about Cashklick, visit https://www.cashklick.com/

To learn more about Downtown Statesville, visit http://www.downtownstatesvillenc.org/

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Wedding season is in the air and Authorize.Net merchant Raymond Miller of My Wedding Reception Ideas, shares his small business advice including what inspired him to start his business and what lead to its success.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
– Zig Ziglar

This Zig Ziglar quote inspired Raymond Miller, founder of My Wedding Reception Ideas, to create a business that helps couples prepare for what can sometimes be one of the most stressful times of their lives. Thirteen years later, My Wedding Reception Ideas has helped thousands of couples make one of the most important days of their lives more special and memorable.

How did you get the idea to start your business?

My Wedding Reception Ideas was conceived in 2003 when a friend asked me if they could use my fruit press to press grapes. They were making homemade wine to hand out at their wedding the following year. On the way home that evening after pressing grapes with my friend and her fiancé, I thought to myself, what a wonderful business it would be to help couples make one of the most important days of their lives even more special.

We’ve now helped thousands of couples make their wedding day extra special AND make the process as stress-free as possible. At the end of every day, my staff and I take great pride and satisfaction in knowing we are part of so many lives at such an important time of their lives.

What kind of items do you have at My Wedding Reception Ideas?

At My Wedding Reception Ideas, you will find an exquisite collection of wedding décor, gifts, stationery and accessories perfect for weddings and receptions. We invite couples to create their dream wedding with our creative and customizable wedding decorations, favors and reception gifts to add a unique and personal touch to their special day. 

What is your small business advice?

Always give a little more than you promise. Don't set customer expectations higher than what you can provide, be it service, product quality, or shipping. For example, let's say it takes four business days to normally turn your product around or provide your service, add an extra day and tell the customer that it may take 5 business days. This does two things; 1) an extra business day allows for any unforeseen delays; and 2) your customer will be elated when they receive their product or service faster than what you originally promised.

To find out more about My Wedding Reception Ideas, check them out at www.MyWeddingReceptionIdeas.com.   

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

 

Authorize.Net merchant Caruh Salon Spa in Seattle, Washington has been voted one of America’s Top 200 Salons for 10 years in a row by Salon Today Magazine. We asked Chief Beauty Officer and Owner Cyndi DeSoto to share her small business advice.

"Our secret? Focus on developing great humans and the business takes care of itself," says DeSoto. "As a business owner, parent, mentor and a woman with big dreams of my own, I find over and over again that the barrier to success is our own self-worth.  While our revenue comes from salon and spa services and product sales, the real work is exploring who we are, what we do and why it matters." 

That work, according to DeSoto, includes several core principles.

"We start each shift with a team huddle to set intentions for the day, identify opportunities for guests and discover what support is needed for each person to show up ready to give their best. We have quarterly personal development retreats and we organize our work flow to require ‘all hands at all times’ so everyone is busy participating as a team and not left alone."

DeSoto’s commitment to excellence begins with herself: "To lead a business rooted in people and the art of self-expression, I have to be committed to my own personal development path. Never easy, but always worth it," she explains.

In addition to serving as chief beauty officer and owner of Caruh Salon Spa, Cyndi DeSoto makes regular appearances at industry events speaking about her innovative leadership style and beliefs about beauty. To learn more, visit www.caruh.com 

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Today we celebrate America’s favorite summer food, best enjoyed at the ball park or on the grill on a hot summer day. Authorize.Net merchant, NorthStar Bison, makers of high quality, 100% grass-fed beef and bison hot dogs shares its story and business advice.

We spoke with Sean Graese about his family’s ranch.

How did NorthStar Bison get its start?

NorthStar Bison is family owned and operated and was birthed in September 1994 with the purchase of two young bison to fulfill a life-long dream of both of my parents. Shortly after, in January of 1995, we added six bred cows which contributed to the growth of the herd reaching 14. During that time, the decision to market the meat directly was made. In pursuit of learning how to raise and produce the highest quality of meat, we realized that 100% grass-fed bison was the best all around; good for land, good for the animals and good for people. This became our motto. We were determined to make quality products and excellent customer service our primary commitment to our customers.

The meat offerings have expanded to include bison, beef, lamb, pastured poultry and pork, elk, ostrich and venison. Our market includes retail and wholesale customers ranging from restaurants to grocery outlets and ranch stores.

How has NorthStar Bison achieved success?

Authorize.Net enables us to accept payments on our website www.northstarbison.com so we can offer our high quality meat and products to customers around the country. But the website offers even more than online ordering. Our family is passionate about health. My parents were both power lifters and my mom was a dietician before starting the ranch. They wanted to consume and offer high-quality, red meat protein, so healthy, even trained professional athletes could enjoy its health benefits. Our website, social media and newsletter offer education, articles, interviews and even recipes for a healthy lifestyle, from the health benefits of nutrient-rich, grass-fed meat to the benefits of CLA and Omega 3. We believe in taking the best care of our animals to produce nutrient enriched food to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

What would be your advice to other small businesses out there?

We truly believe in the quote, “Worry about being better, bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can.” – Gary Comer, founder of Land’s End.

Satisfying our customers' requests is our number one priority. Because of this, the growth of our business has been through the word of mouth of our happy customers.

To learn more visit: www.northstarbison.com

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Happy National Ice Cream Day!

July 17 and all month long, we celebrate a favorite cold and creamy treat perfect for those hot summer days. Authorize.Net merchant Yuengling’s Ice Cream shares its story of how America’s oldest brewery started making award-winning ice cream and gives their business advice.

We spoke with David Yuengling about what makes Yuengling’s Ice Cream so special.

How did Yuengling’s Ice Cream get its start?

My family has a long history of making quality products in Pennsylvania. 
We first began making ice cream back in 1920 when my great grandfather, Frank Yuengling, started a dairy business during Prohibition to help support the family brewery. Yuengling Dairy Products made incredible ice cream for more than 65 years before closing its doors. Then in 2014, after 29 years, my partner Rob Bohorad and I decided to bring back the great tradition of Yuengling's Ice Cream. 

What makes Yuengling’s Ice Cream award winning?

We have taken the utmost care to create a product that we believe customers will love and will stand up to my family's tradition of quality and value. Our product is all natural, starting with local milk and cream that has no added hormones. We produce all of our ice cream in a small dairy in central Pennsylvania and, whenever possible, source our ingredients from local suppliers. We were recently honored to take home a Gold Medal at the Los Angeles International Dairy Competition in the "Premium Vanilla Ice Cream" category for our Madagascar Vanilla. We believe it is one of the best products you can buy anywhere. 

What would be your advice to other small businesses out there?

Put 110% into everything you do. Listen to your customers and your employees. When you are successful, give back to your community. They are the ones who helped you get there.

What is the secret to the company’s success?

We focus on quality and taste at a reasonable price.

We believe we provide one of the highest quality ice creams on the market. Using very select high-quality ingredients with low overrun makes our product creamier, richer and smoother. We also provide new and unique flavors that set us apart from our competition.

To find locations where you can try Yuengling’s Ice Cream or to purchase Yuengling’s Ice Cream merchandise online, visit http://www.yuenglingsicecream.com/

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Specializing in signs and labels that prevent accidents and save lives, Authorize.Net merchant HCL Labels shares its business advice.

“Our business is safety. Keeping workplace safety in mind in all that we do, we care about each client and each order whether big or small,” says Ben Nell, VP. “It’s a great feeling knowing the products we sell can prevent an accident, so we don’t focus on selling more, we focus on informing better.”

How does HCL Labels prevent accidents and save lives in the workplace?

HCL Labels Inc. has been helping companies comply with federal environmental and workplace safety regulations for over 20 years. Knowing that the health and safety of our customers, employees, and the safety of general public is of the utmost importance, we adopted the phrase "Preventing Accidents, Saving Lives" and use it as a daily reminder as to why we're in business. We help companies keep their teams safe and stay compliant with the latest OSHA/GHS requirements. Over the years we’ve created highly visible labels. This has allowed first responders quick reference to the information they need to ensure they are following proper procedures and able to provide the quickest treatment. Of course, we don’t like to hear about accidents in the workplace, and hope that our products prevent them, but we’re happy to know that they minimize injury as well.

Tell us a little bit about the safety products you have.

As the frontrunner for GHS labeling, and with the largest selection of GHS secondary container labels, we carry an extensive inventory of health and safety signs, labels, and placards, safety products including software and publications and drug testing kits — all ready for rapid delivery to our customers. In addition we have the capability to produce custom-made signs, labels and safety products with a fast turnaround time. Foreign language labels are also available.

All health and safety signs, labels and placards are carefully researched to ensure the information is current and accurate, and complies with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards.

How have you stayed current in the market?

Over the years, HCL has endeavored to meet our customers’ needs in every way possible. We add new health and safety products and services as necessary to keep apace of those needs. HCL also offers Environmental Health and Safety, and Hazard Communication Training and Consulting by employing experienced and knowledgeable professionals who are available to assist companies on-site with compliance challenges. Our instructors are equipped with the most up-to-date information available to ensure employees receive the best and most complete training in all areas of environmental health and safety.

Our goal is to provide customers with knowledgeable and courteous customer service before, during and after the sale. We work hard to ensure complete customer satisfaction.

How has HCL grown over the years?

In 2012, we launched the new website, www.hclco.com which allowed us to easily sell our health and safety products to companies across the country. We're excited that Authorize.Net enables us to quickly and easily take orders online. Their low fees and easy integration with our website helps to maintain a professional presence, with the ability to accept all major credit cards in a secure location.

To learn more about HCL Labels visit www.hclco.com.

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