Area business owners look to Web

By Ryn Gargulinski

When boot maker Tim Bishop first started his Tucumcari-area shop several years ago, he said he had no idea he could easily sell his custom boots to people in other countries. But he said a quick two-day e-commerce workshop helped open his eyes to the miles of possibility the Internet offers.

The first of these workshops Bishop attended, headed by New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service as part of its Teleliteracy ABC’s project, was last year in Mosquero where he said he helped slough off some of his fear of computers.

The workshop was offered again — this time in Tucumcari — on Thursday and Friday at Mesalands Community College. With about 25 participants, turnout was good, said Robert Coppedge, economic development project leader and professor who came from NMSU in Las Cruces to help head the sessions.

“We have some beginners and some fairly sophisticated users,” Coppedge said, adding the topics ranged from online marketing and trends to designing a Web site.

“In today’s world with global technology and the Internet, rural businesses and communities have to use those tools to survive and grow,” he said, adding these workshops help show them how.

Bishop, who owns Bishop’s Handmade Boots several miles out of town, said the workshop also expanded his mind.

“This gives me a new appreciation and regard for technology. Computers used to scare the death out of me,” Bishop said. “But after the last workshop, I’m a lot more involved in the
Internet and computers. I haven’t went out and conquered the world or anything,” he said, “but now I see how it can open my business up to the entire world.”

Jeannie McKinley is a home economist and program director in San Miguel County as well as an artist.

“I’m here for professional and personal reasons,” McKinley said. “I am collecting general information to bring back to my clients,” she said, adding she is also hoping to one day have her own Web site on which to showcase and sell her oil paintings.

“Maybe in Quay County there are not enough people to buy the really unique product you have,” Coppedge said. “But on the
Internet you don’t just have a local economy, but a virtual economy. The marketing principals are different in Tucumcari than all of New Mexico or the United States or even the world.”
Coppedge was joined by ENMR-Plateau officials, who cosponsored the project with the Eastern Plains Council of Governments, and State Rep. Brian Moore, R-Clayton.

Instructors included Jan Zimmerman, author of “Marketing on the Internet” and owner of Albuquerque-based Sandia Consulting; extension agents Pam Brown and Connie Hancock, who teach e-commerce in Texas and Nebraska, respectively; and Nancy Cordero, an NMSU Rural Economic Development Through Tourism coordinator, who teaches online tourism promotion.

A release from NMSU said the workshop was made possible by a grant from Qwest and was targeting businesses in the counties of Quay, Guadalupe, De Baca, Harding, San Miguel and Union.