This week, we’re shining our small business spotlight on family-owned and operated online music store Gollihur Music, an Endicia customer and successful online business that has been providing upright bass instruments and accessories to the bass community since 1997.
After searching high and low for a replacement piece for his upright bass, Bob Gollihur came to the conclusion that the market for this instrument was incredibly limited. So, in no time, he founded Gollihur Music as a way to bring these products to his fellow enthusiasts.
We recently caught up with his son, current owner and passionate bass player himself, Mark Gollihur, to discuss his small business growth strategy.
Endicia: If you had to pick one thing that has led your business to success, what would it be?
Mark: The one thing that hurt me as a job-seeker in the past was being a “renaissance man.” I have a background in many disparate fields, such as advertising/marketing, retail management, music performance and production, software technical support and much more. When I was — after the Internet “bust” — seeking a new job after being downsized, it appeared to potential employers that I was a “jack of all trades — and master of none.” Fast-forwarding to now, as a business owner, my unusually wide range of jobs has provided me an uncommon breadth of knowledge and skills. This has allowed me to understand and take charge of many aspects of my business that I’d otherwise have to “job out” to professionals.
Endicia: Seems like everything fell into place. Since not all online business owners have such diverse job experience, what do you suggest they do?
Mark: Hire great people. If you’re not the one answering every phone or email, make sure that the people who are share your passion and knowledge for your business. And don’t be foolish with your money if you see initial success. Reinvest in your business — the brand new sports car can wait.
Endicia: Interesting, we definitely agree. Can you tell us more about how Gollihur Music continues to find new ways to save?
Mark: We’re constantly reminding ourselves that every penny counts. Each dollar you save in the cost of running your business goes immediately to your bottom line. Saving just a few cents per package adds up, and it’s all profit you wouldn’t have made if your mindset was, “It’s only 20 cents.” Recycling boxes, packing peanuts and bubble-wrap instead of buying them new is free money (and better for the environment, too). And remember that shipping by USPS Priority Mail entitles you to use free boxes — that is not insignificant!
Endicia: That’s a good point about USPS boxes. On that topic, what is your No. 1 shipping rule?
Mark: Have the right shipping mix. I use the Postal Service and UPS for all of my packages. In the end, I compare rates on a package-by-package basis, so I can give the best deals to my customers.
Endicia: That’s a very sound strategy. Can you give us an example of how this approach has come in handy?
Mark: When dimensional weight pricing went into effect for FedEx and UPS Ground shipments earlier this year, I was able to adjust my shipping mix almost instantly, since I compare rates for every package that goes out the door.
We moved roughly half of our UPS package volume over to the U.S. Postal Service. Now, we ship a couple hundred packages per week — 15-20 via UPS and the rest through USPS. It made sense for us to make the switch, since our accessories are small and lightweight — the Postal Service’s sweet spot.
Endicia: That’s great! Thanks for sharing. So, running your own business is obviously time-consuming work! What is your favorite part of owning your online business?
Mark: I am in complete control of my company’s success or failure. It’s empowering to not answer to anyone but myself, and my customers of course! Don’t get me wrong, it can also be terrifying sometimes.
Endicia: Last but not least, where do you see Gollihur Music heading in the next five years?
Mark: Continuing the slow, steady, managed growth that we’ve been curating for over 18 years. In every version I’ve ever read, the tortoise always wins the race.