Google has helped us grow our e-commerce business, and we've only tapped the surface.”Alicia Rehmert
After a long career in finance, Alicia Rehmert was ready to retire. “That is, until boredom set in just six months later,” she recalls. While looking around for something fun to do, Alicia realized that her small community in the Ozark Mountains was underserved by the retail industry. “There weren’t a lot of places where you could just interact with people and have a fun experience while shopping,” she explains. “And the big-box stores that were around were all pretty generic; there was nothing unique about them!” In 2014, Alicia opened Lange General Store in historic downtown Steelville. The business is a restoration of a 20th-century general store that was founded by her husband’s great-grandfather, H.C. Lange. Like its predecessor, Lange General Store is “a literal brick-and-mortar building full of classic toys, nostalgic candy, over a hundred flavors of soda pop in bottles, home decor and linens, and a variety of other old-fashioned goods,” describes Alicia.
Lange General Store launched an e-commerce website in 2016 to share its local flavors beyond state borders. Using AdWords, Google’s advertising program, the business now services customers all across the U.S. and Canada. “About 70 percent of our online sales come through AdWords,” says Alicia. With 90 percent of the store’s advertising dollars going to digital, Alicia also uses Google Analytics to optimize their online performance. “I have a finance background, so I really pay attention to what the numbers say,” she explains. “And so far, our online investments have been worthwhile.”
Over the past year, Lange General Store has more than doubled their sales and number of customers. “We plan to double again, and then again,” Alicia shares. They ship their products to thousands of customers every year. With each order, they include a handwritten thank-you note, Tootsie Rolls, and Bit-O-Honey candy. “It’s how we share some of that old-fashioned service that we give folks who walk through our physical doors,” explains Alicia. For the Lange General Store team, these daily interactions with customers are “what we’re all about,” she adds. “Meeting people, learning their stories, providing a fun shopping experience, all while taking them a little bit back in time—that’s why we created this store.”