Ninilchik entrepreneur turns to Internet for opportunity

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2002

The Internet brings a world of information to even the most out-of-the-way places and gives users opportunities not previously available. Lawrence Baker of Ninilchik is seizing that opportunity to provide a little extra income for his family.

Baker is a single parent and has been on long-term disability assistance since 1997 for chronic pain and problems with his neck. He wanted to supplement his disability income to support his 12-year-old daughter, Lauren Baker, and turned to the Internet for help.

During the past year, he got in touch with a company that helps entrepreneurs start up Internet businesses. After doing some research, Baker decided to set up an Internet site called Baker's Mini Mall. The site sells general merchandise products -- everything from camping gear and small appliances to jewelry and clothing.

The products on the site were chosen by Baker after asking around to find out what people would be interested in buying. Once he made his selections, he had to add pictures and descriptions of the items to his site.

"There's a lot more items I could add to the site, but it took me quite awhile to get what I have on there," he said.

Baker worked out an arrangement with another company to warehouse the merchandise and handle the shipping. He is in charge of the marketing, accounting, order-taking and design for the Internet site.

"It's kind of nice for me because I don't have to worry about the overhead for warehousing and stocking and all," Baker said.

Baker had experience with computers but not much with the Internet prior to this experience, he said. It took him about four months to get the business operational and about two and a half weeks to get the site designed.

"Building the site went pretty smoothly, and getting the layout the way I wanted went pretty good, too," he said.

The Internet company Baker works with assigned him a mentor to assist in designing his site. The mentor calls Baker about once a week and offers guidance.

"Then she was pretty tickled when she first previewed my site," Baker said. "And I've gotten quite a few comments from people. They've been pretty positive and told me my site looks pretty good."

The site has been operational for about two weeks.

So far Baker has made a few sales, mostly camping gear and pocket knives. Baker said he even got a message from a potential customer in India.

"I'm not looking to make a huge profit off one sale," Baker said. "I'm looking to make lots of sales and have repeat customers."

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