The Wolf Den has been a staple of the Parry Sound community since 1967. Owned and operated by Doris Muckenheim, the shop sells a selection of handcrafted, made-in-Canada art and crafts to cottagers from the Greater Toronto Area and tourists from around the world. Muckenheim says her in-laws started the business with the goal of supporting artists and artisans in Canada so they can continue to practice their craft and share their work.
The Wolf Den incorporated technology into its business very early on. Muckenheim says her store has had an e-commerce website for over 20 years. The business’s online presence allows Muckenheim to continue to produce sales in the off-season when in-store traffic from cottagers and tourists tapers off. As a result, the holiday season has now become another busy time for The Wolf Den with online shoppers heading to the website to purchase made-in-Canada art and crafts for gifting.
Muckenheim has an anthropology background and is passionate about storytelling. In particular, she says she really wants shoppers to know where a piece came from, what inspired it, and why artists make the things that they make. “I don’t apologize for [my products] being a little more expensive,” she says “because [they’re] handcrafted.”
When she gets pushback on the price of the items she sells in-store, she is able to share more information about the artists and engage in the storytelling she is so passionate about. “Most people get it,” says Muckenheim “and they’re willing to listen to why it’s a better product.” However, it’s harder to get that message across when you’re not face-to-face with your customer. Muckenheim was eager to find a way to convey her brand mission online in an effort to bring storytelling to her digital audience, boost engagement on social media, and increase website traffic and conversions.
Muckenheim credits the small business community in Parry Sound with helping her overcome this challenge and many others over the years. “If there’s a grant program that somebody’s availing themselves of, they’ll talk to other store owners [about it].” In this instance, it was a local videographer, Martin Buzora, who introduced Muckenheim to Digital Main Street’s Digital Transformation Grant (DTG) Program while shopping at The Wolf Den. The initiative provides brick-and-mortar small businesses with a digital assessment, online training, and a $2,500 grant to implement their Digital Transformation Plan.
Because Muckenheim runs her business on her own she has to prioritize her time carefully. She was thrilled to find that the application process was straightforward enough for her to take on without falling behind on her other responsibilities. She completed and submitted the necessary forms and her application was successful.
With the funds received from the DTG, Muckenheim hired Buzora, the same videographer who introduced her to the DTG Program, to produce a video that she could share on the business’s website and social media accounts. They spent a day in-store filming both the shop, as well as interviews where Muckenheim had an opportunity to tell her own brand story and highlight some of the artists whose work she sells at The Wolf Den. The video was shared on social media platforms and Muckenheim hopes to leverage it on the business’s website and at pop-up events this summer.
- Applied for and received a Digital Main Street DTG grant in September 2022
- Hired and briefed videographer pre-production on desired goals of video
- Filmed video including interviews with owner
- Edited and finalized video post-production
- Shared video on business’s social media platforms in October 2022
While the video’s direct influence on sales was hard to measure, Muckenheim is very pleased with how the creative asset conveyed her brand’s mission and she has noticed its impact on the business in other ways. “I know it’s [had] a positive impact. Anytime anybody talks about something that you’ve done and reacts to it, I know it’s positive,” she says.
- Increased engagement. After deploying the new video on social media, Muckenheim noticed an increase in reshares on Instagram and Facebook.
- Increased visibility. The video has become a topic of conversation in-store and around the Parry Sound community with customers bringing it up to staff while shopping.
With a strong brand video in place, Muckenheim is hoping to build off the momentum this piece of creative has generated for the business. She is looking to develop a more strategic marketing plan for The Wolf Den by exploring her website analytics. Specifically, Muckenheim would like to gain a better understanding of what is driving traffic to her website so she can invest in the right platforms and creative assets. Muckenheim says that no matter where you are on your digital transformation journey, there is always room for improvement and growth. So, when it comes to opportunities like the DTG Program, “if you can take advantage, you should.”