Cyber Monday: A tale of two Dubuque businesses - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cyber Monday: A tale of two Dubuque businesses


In a local look at Cyber Monday, some small business owners are seeing a sharp spike in online sales, but not every eastern Iowa company sells its goods via the Internet.

Two Dubuque businesses illustrate two very different approaches to the Web.

When it comes to the time-honored art of candy-making, Keith Marugg Jr. uses his eyes and his ears.

"As it thickens up, it's going to start the make the sound of a paddle wheel coming up the river," candy-maker Marugg Jr. said, standing next to a industrial mixer filled with a frothy white candy mixture.

Sure and soon enough, the mixing paddle started making a slapping noise at each turn, like a paddle wheel hitting the water.

Marugg Jr. works at Betty Jane Homemade Candies, where candy-making is rooted in the past.

As for the company's business, owner Drew Siegert said at the Asbury store Monday, "the Internet's the future of our company, I think."

He bought the nearly 75-year-old Dubuque business in July.

Even though this is his first Christmas season with the company, he said he can already tell online purchases will make up a sizable portion of holiday sales.

"Actually, the online orders have been busier than the store in the last week," he said, "which is hopefully a good indication that we're going to have more of those this year also."

Of course, not every local business opts to sell online.

Julie Berstler owns Gotta Have It, a Dubuque boutique, and has stayed away from online sales.

"It's very difficult as a retailer of my size to have the amount of goods on hand to open up that end," she said.

Berstler only keeps up to four pieces per style at any given time, so selling online, she said, could hurt business if she weren't able to meet the demand.

"I would have to commit to a huge amount of goods, with the hope that I'm going to sell a lot online," she said, "or, if I do it as I'm doing now with my buying, I may not have enough goods or the right size for the online business."

Berstler has a website and Facebook page for her business but only uses them for sharing information with customers. With Gotta Have It in its 20th year and a successful holiday season underway, she said she doesn't want or need to get into online sales.

"My customers tend to want to come in. They want to touch it, feel it, try it on," she said. "With clothing, it just seems to work well that way."

For Betty Jane Homemade Candies, however, Web sales are now essential.

"Because people grew up with us and moved away, that's a way for them to still reach us easily, and, you know, it's convenient, too," Siegert said.

Despite plowing into the future with online sales, there are some traditions, such as candy-making, Marugg Jr. said, that don't need modernizing.

"The old ways are sometimes the best," Marugg Jr. said, skillfully crafting the next batch of Betty Jane's candy.

Siegert said online orders have come in from all across the US and even as far away as Australia.

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