My name is Simon Ekizian and this is the story of how my business, the Executive Gift Shoppe, came to be. Let me take you back to the spring of 1999.
Picture this, Iím sitting at yet another rehearsal dinner before yet another wedding in which Iím a member of the wedding party. The groom has made his rehearsal dinner speech and its time to pass out the groomsmen gifts. This is the point at which all groomsmen cringe. We know whatís coming, a vest that is special made for the wedding party or some overpriced nick knack from your local mall. I thought, there has to be a better way to find a gift for a guy that heíll actually like and use.
Thatís where it all began. This internet thing was in its infancy but I decided to take a crack at starting a small online shop selling groomsmen gifts and other guy themed gifts. Now, bear in mind, I failed computer 101 twice in college before skating by with a C- so starting a business based on computers was really a leap of faith.
My original website was called www.groomsmensgifts.com. I was having some moderate success for a year or two when I decided that I really didnít want to be pigeon holed to only groomsmen gifts. After all, there are all kinds of occasions where men are due some gifts, like birthdays, anniversaries (yes ladies, we deserve a gift on our anniversary too), Christmas, Hanukkah and the Super Bowl (why not).
So I changed my companyís name to Executive Gift Shoppe, www.executivegiftshoppe.com. Iím not sure how or why I came up with this name and to be honest, sometimes I love the name and sometimes I wonder why on earth I decided on it. You see, we really specialize in all kinds of gifts for men. Cool gifts, gifts that Iíd like to receive. Things like money clips, wallets, flasks, pocket watches, Swiss Army Knives and Pub Signs, all of which we personalize free of charge. Sure, executives would love these gifts, but so would a mail room employee or a blue collar guy. For that matter, there are plenty of gifts we sell that would work just fine for ladies (and yes, I know that there are a ton of lady executives, most of whom are probably smarter than us guys, sorry guys). But I decided that I canít just go changing the name every few years, so I bit the bullet and Executive Gift Shoppe has stuck for 9 years.
What has driven this company since its inception is finding cool products that Iíd like to receive as a gift. Along the way, weíve tried to be a leader in innovation in our humble industry. For example, we were the very first company to offer free personalization. To us, it seemed like such a racket. Companies would sell a personalized pocket watch or an engraved Swiss Army Knife, and then have the nerve to charge for the personalization or engraving (even thought is right in the name of the product). Thatís like selling a Mustang Convertible and then saying, oh, its more if you want it to be a convertible. We thought, canít we just have one price that will include everything the customer needs to make something a perfect gifts? So we did.
We were also one of the first companies in the gift industry to offer free shipping, and weíve been doing it for 8 years. Any order you place with us that is over $75.00 will be shipped via UPS Ground free of charge. And you donít have to enter a coupon code or promise us your first born, just place the order and the shipping will be removed. Incidentally, we were also one of the very first companies that shipped personalized gifts the next business day, but I donít want to sound like Iím bragging. Is it bragging if its true?
All of these innovations are great and have helped us become a market leader in the menís gifts industry but they are not what defines Executive Gift Shoppe. Since our inception, weíve had one goal, happy customers. I canít tell you how many times Iíve ordered something online and, after entering my credit card, being basically cut loose. Unhappy with your order, too bad, no returns. You received the wrong item, someone will get back to you, but we canít tell you when. I really feel that not having to talk to a customer face to face makes it so easy for some online companies and their customer service reps to be unhelpful, short and downright rude.
I donít understand this. What are you doing with your business if your goal is not to make your customers happy. I feel this is even more important when customers canít look you in the eye, canít see that you want to help them and make their purchase right. We want to make it unequivocally clear to our customers that we want them to be happy with their order, we need them to be happy with their order. If theyíre not, weíll make things right, guaranteed. This has served us well during these lean times. Our repeat customers are our largest customer base. They know that their hard earned money is well placed with us, we will not let them (and you) down.
Thatís my story and Executive Gift Shoppeís story. We hope that if you havenít yet, youíll give us a chance the next time you need a gift. If you have any ideas on how we can improve our business, including things weíre doing wrong, products we should add or a bad experience you had with us, weíre eager to hear about it. No, weíre begging to hear about it. The only way we can improve is through feedback, negative and positive.
- Simon Ekizian