Tag Archives: mobile

Forest Friends

December 7, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Since my husband and I found out that we are expecting, my mind has been on all things baby. With the holiday season in full swing, I love seeing rustic woodland decorations adorning stores, homes, and on my Pinterest board! With wintery things in mind, I had the idea to make a Christmas mobile for our nursery. Craft these little guys for yourself, and you can use them as a baby mobile, tree ornaments, or even string them up and use them as a garland. Merry Christmas and happy crafting!

What You’ll Need:

  • Felt in various colors
  • Medium and small needles
  • Black thread and embroidery string in various colors
  • Scissors
  • Printer paper
  • Black, round beads
  • X-Acto blade
  • Hot glue gun
  • Polyester filler
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Fishing line

Directions

  • Find a pattern that you would like to follow for your forest friends. I found mine at liagriffith.com.
  • Print out pattern.
  • Cut out each piece with an X-Acto blade.
  • Trace each piece onto the felt of the same color. If you are creating two of the same shape it may be best to turn the paper over and trace from the back side for the second piece. This way you can avoid having pen lines show after you cut them out.
  • Hot glue any smaller pieces onto the main body of each animal.
  • With the small needle and thread, sew black bead eyes onto the body.
  • With medium needle and embroidery string, blanket stitch around the edges of the two body pieces to create a pocket for stuffing.
  • Stuff the pocket with filler to give your critter some shape. Be sure to start doing this before you sew up many of the edges!
  • String fishing line through the top of the animal and hang it from the embroidery hoop.
  • Hang each forest friend at a different length to add dimension to your mobile, and attach hoop to the ceiling.

Forest-Friends-1

Forest Friends 2

 

 

 

 

A Square Deal

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Café 110 opened its doors at the corner of 13th and Farnam in March 2012. Owner Allan Zeeck had been at the Benson Grind in the hip Benson neighborhood for about eight years before he closed shop and headed downtown with his eyes set on a space in the Old Market’s business district.

The business, which is known for its catering and live music weekends, serves delicious foods and drinks to its Old Market customers from 7am to 5pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Breakfast and coffee are the main attractions, in Zeeck’s opinion, but Café 110 also has an assortment of pastries, a healthy soup and salad bar, and fresh sandwiches.

But it’s not just the food that has Omaha buzzing about Café 110. It’s Zeeck’s implementation of an electronic payment service called Square.

Similar to the Passbook app, which stores coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, and more on a smartphone, Square is the new-age system of business transaction around the country. Rather than using the traditional cash register, businesses that use Square can have their customers pay either by swiping the card through a reader attached to a portable device, like a smartphone or computer tablet, or through the Square Wallet app.

“[Square] keeps track of my inventory, taxes, gratuity, credit card statements—it has a whole library of my entire history that I have access to any time I need.” – Allan Zeeck, owner

With the Square Wallet app, customers can set up a user profile on a smartphone, linking their name, a photo, and their credit or debit card information. When it’s time to pay, all customers need to do is open the app and make a quick payment with the touch of a finger. Receipts are then sent directly to the customer via text or e-mail. The app also allows customers to pay with gift cards and coupons and keep track of business punch cards.

Zeeck, who began experimenting with Square four years ago and has been using it ever since, has nothing but praise for the technology. “The process is very efficient,” he says. “It keeps track of my inventory, taxes, gratuity, credit card statements—it has a whole library of my entire history that I have access to any time I need. It [also] lets me know what sells and what isn’t selling.” He adds that the best parts of using Square are that each swipe is only 2.75 percent with no additional fees and that the money is in his business account the next day.

Though he’s heard some mixed reviews about the Square technology at his café, Zeeck says overall, his customers have received it very positively. “People like that it’s so snazzy and modern. There’s no pen or stylus to deal with; you just use a finger and a phone…It’s easier to retain records of the purchase, too, so if there’s ever any kind of misunderstanding with a purchase, I have the ability to go back and refund without the pain of the bank.”

Zeeck knows there are other systems similar to Square available, but he’s certain that he wants to stick with Square. Down the road, he even hopes that his customers will be able to both order and purchase from their phones with Square. “You always worry about minimizing the personal communication with your customers, but I think as long as [Square] continues to progress at a rapid pace and continues being so efficient, I’ll keep using it.”

Café 110
1299 Farnam St. #110
402-932-4040
cafe110omaha.com

Digital Immigrant, Meet Demand Generation

Chances are you are a “digital immigrant,” one who was not born bathed in bits, who played video games as a toddler or learned keyboarding in third grade. This means you have a steeper learning curve than “digital natives”—those for whom all this social media stuff isn’t stuff at all. It’s just part of everyday life…how they live, work, play, access information, and make decisions.

Indeed, there is a whole generation of digital natives, who command where, when, and how they find information. They are in control, and that is why they are called the “demand generation.” They compose our customers, our prospects, our employees, our constituents, and our advocates. A key to understanding social media is understanding how to reach, and more importantly, engage with the demand generation.

Here are some tips:

  • Acknowledge that the sales process is no longer linear. The internet has jumped squarely in between you and your customer and interrupted what used to be a good opportunity for you to control the conversation. Now consumers visit blogs to get information and recommendations on what to buy. The average consumer uses more than 10 sources to make a buying decision today, and 70 percent of Americans look at product reviews. What was once linear may be turned upside-down, twisted sideways, and backwards. Consumers may see a product in the store, but then go out into cyberspace to investigate it, only to go back into the store to buy.
  • Content is king. As a writer by trade—and a digital immigrant—knowing this makes me very happy. It also makes me work hard to relate to my target audience with personal, direct, relevant conversations that matter to them. Customers who engage with brands online spend 20-40 percent more on that brand’s products/services. Know your target. Understand their perspective. Quench their thirst for the knowledge they seek. A long time ago, author and speaker Bert Decker impressed me with his edict, “You’ve got to be believed to be heard.” Break through that frontal cortex, and your message just may get through.
  • You do have to be everywhere—and on-the-go. This seems the antithesis to target marketing, but what it means is you can’t think that because you have your website and a Facebook page, you’re good to go. Chances are your target customers aren’t sitting still. It’s likely—not statistically shown—that 78 percent of consumers shop across multiple channels. This means the internet—your site if your SEO is up to date, social media, Twitter, Vine, blogs, e-mail deliveries from you/your competitors, and their phones. And here’s the deal with phones: 31 percent of consumers research products on their phones before buying in-store while 40 percent research products from their phones before buying online. Is your site mobile optimized/responsive so that it feeds the information to fit the user’s screen?

The good news about all this—for those willing to keep swimming in the deep end—is that there is demand, a marketer’s dream. We can meet that demand with products people need and want—and by getting in and staying in the conversation with relevance, content, personalization, and engagement.

Special thanks for inspiration and sourcing for this article from Bob Thacker, former CMO of OfficeMax.

RV Sweet RV

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Fritz and Cheryl Steinhoff spent a lifetime teaching high school students, their longest tenure in Scribner, Neb. Fritz taught agriculture while Cheryl shared her talents as a music and piano teacher. They raised two sons. In 2005, when both were in their mid-50s, they started thinking about retirement and started looking at recreational vehicles.

“We like to travel, so we thought it would be a great way to do it,” says Fritz.

Three years ago, they made good on their plan, sold their “stick and brick house” and now spend half the year—the cold half—in their home-on-wheels in Mesa, Ariz. When the snow and frost are gone, the warm Nebraska weather beckons them back home where they set up at the KOA campsite in Gretna to be close their sons and grandchildren.

Dr. Marvin Johnson and Joy Johnson met in a mental hospital in Clarinda, Iowa, almost 40 years ago.

“That’s appropriate, don’t you think?” cracks Joy, who goes on to explain that Dr. Marv was the chaplain there while Joy conducted a program on death and dying. “I teamed up with the chaplain, and then we really teamed up!”

The couple founded Centering Corporation, the oldest and largest bereavement resource center in the country. As authors and lecturers on the grieving process, their lives were busy enough. But then Joy had to go and write a series of successful mystery/comedy novels set in Omaha called The Boob Girls (Burned Out Old Broads), which forced a change in their lifestyle.

“We lived in the Mayfair Building at 12th and Howard in Omaha,” says Joy. “We were on the road so much because of my Boob Girls speaking engagements that we decided to go full-time in an RV.”

The Johnsons use Orlando as a base of operation during the winter and return to Nebraska in April, staying off I-80 at the Pine Grove RV Park in Greenwood.

Dr. Marvin and Joy Johnson with their travel companion, Barney, at a campsite in Orlando, Fla.

Dr. Marvin and Joy Johnson with their travel companion, Barney, at a campsite in Orlando, Fla.

Linda and Dean Erickson, both in their mid-60s, are busy downsizing and getting their duplex in Blair, Neb., ready to sell. Years of weekend camping in state parks in Nebraska and Iowa as members of the local Jayco Club led them to the next stage in their lives.

“We’ve decided to go RVing full-time,” explains Linda, who retired in February from the local phone company, while Dean finished up a long career in the HVAC industry. They are the parents of two sets of twins, born nine years apart.

“We’ll probably be in Texas or Arizona pretty soon,” says Dean. “We’re looking at RV sites around McCallum, Texas. From what I understand, there are hundreds of RV parks within 50 miles of there.”

The three couples don’t know each other personally, but they have a lot in common. They are among the estimated 30 million RV enthusiasts in this country, according to the Recreational Vehicle Information Association. The mobile home of choice for each couple is a fifth wheel—a large trailer that hitches onto the bed of a pickup truck and is towed. They love the freedom the RV lifestyle affords them.

All are instinctively outgoing and have no problem making new friends.

“We aren’t parked more than two minutes before 10 to 15 people will be knocking on our door. Doesn’t matter where we are,” says Fritz Steinhoff, who adorns their $85,000 Mobile Suite by DRV with Nebraska logos. “And you’d be surprised at all the people from the Dakotas and Iowa who are Husker fans.”

Perhaps the most endearing similarity among the couples is they still love each other.

“We aren’t parked more than two minutes before 10 to 15 people will be knocking on our door. Doesn’t matter where we are.” – Fritz Steinhoff

“[Marv and I] are great travel buddies,” says Joy Johnson, 75. “That’s the most important part. You have to enjoy each other.”

The Johnsons also enjoy the company of their 125-pound Bernese Mountain dog, Barney. He happily sits in the backseat of their diesel-fueled Chevy pickup as it tows the 40-foot-long Jayco Pinnacle—a rolling testament to American engineering and design.

The hundreds of motor home manufacturers in the U.S. (Winnebago is still the largest) have listened closely to their customers since the recession hammered the industry. According to the RV Association, sales are surging again thanks, in part, to features like cherry cabinets, oodles of flat-screen TVs, convection ovens, top-quality countertops, surround-sound systems, satellite dishes, and washers and dryers. A standard floor plan for a fifth wheel includes living room, dining area, kitchen with an island, and a master bedroom with a full bathroom.

“We call it camping, but in reality we think it’s roughing it when we can’t get satellite reception,” chuckles Dean Erickson. Their upgrade to a $38,000 used, 37-foot Jayco Designer with four slides (rooms that slide outwards to expand living space once you’re parked) nearly resulted in disaster.

“First time out, I’m going down Nebraska Street (in Blair), and a guy passing by starts waving his arms like crazy. I stop and say, ‘What’s going on?’ And he says, ‘One of your slides is still out!’ Didn’t realize I had so many.”

What about the all-important economics of RVing vs. owning a home?

“We call it camping, but in reality we think it’s roughing it when we can’t get satellite reception.” – Dean Erickson

“It’s been fantastic,” says Fritz. “There are less taxes. No upkeep. And if the wind isn’t blowing at me, I can average 13 mpg.”

“Fuel economy has definitely gotten better over the years,” adds Dean, who figures he and Linda will be better off economically.

Short-term campers usually pay a flat fee to plug in at a site while those who stay in RV parks for long stretches have a meter and pay for electricity, along with rent of $300-$400 a month. Most commercial campgrounds provide Wi-Fi.

For those who still may be on the fence about the RV lifestyle, final words of wisdom from Joy Johnson: “If you don’t like the place you’re staying at, you can just leave.”

Olive Branch

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Olive Branch Integrated Outdoor Design, an Omaha landscape design company that specializes in lawns, pools, decks, patios, and gardens, has a “new tool in its shed,” so to speak. The company’s latest addition is a mobile unit that takes its design services on the road and right to customers’ front yards.

Owner Mike Brown, who founded the business in 2005, says, “The unit is a 22-foot 1964 Airstream Safari, equipped with a couch and small table for clients to sit and review plans and ideas. I tow it behind my truck, and it can be left on a job site. The technology on board is pretty simple—a drafting desk and an iPad or laptop with a wiFi hotspot.”

Each project Olive Branch takes on is tailored to the clients’ wishes and can be anything from a small upgrade for an existing area to a completely new space created from scratch, always with a “focus on artistry, cohesiveness, and quality outdoor living,” Brown adds. The mobile unit only enhances the company’s ability to serve clients’ design needs.

“Between client meetings and job site visits, I lose a lot of design time traveling,” Brown says. “The mobile design unit allows me to take advantage of downtime between meetings without traveling all the way back to the office. I can make design changes on-site while a project is happening, and clients will be able to get a more intimate glimpse into the design process.”

So far people have loved the “pop-up shop” on wheels concept, Brown says. “The hope is that the Airstream will become an icon for our company, and people will know they can stop in and visit us wherever they see us parked.”

Olive Branch
4415 Marcy St.
402-490-1436
olivebranchoutdoor.com

Make Any Photo a Great Gift

January 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Framing a photo for your special someone can make for a great Valentine’s Day gift. But why just settle for a regular frame and print when you can get creative with your gift? Canvas prints, puzzles, t-shirts—you name it! There are plenty of unique ways to share photos with your sweetheart this holiday.

Rockbrook Camera

If you’re thinking about getting a big photo gift, consider Rockbrook Camera’s wall-size Presentation Print or Gallery Wrapped Canvas Print. They’ll print from negatives, slides, prints, or digital files. Canvases come in Rolled Canvas, Stretched, or Gallery-Wrapped Canvas, and Textured Fine Art Prints. The service time for a canvas print is three working days for unstretched and five working days for stretched or gallery-wrapped. Depending on the size and the type of canvas, projects can range from $49.99 to $269.99.

But Rockbrook Camera has more than just canvas prints for photo gifting—they also have photo memorabilia options. You can have photos crafted into a beautifully bound 11×8½ book. Covers come in black, royal blue, burgundy, or metallic silver, and cost $29.99 for 20 pages or $39.99 for 40 pages. You can also have photos printed onto puzzles ($13.99 for 110-piece or $26.99 for 252-piece), t-shirts ($16.99-19.99), woven pillows ($75.99 for 17×17), woven throw ($129.99 for 50×60), ceramic mugs ($12.99-16.99), and many more gifts.

Rockbrook Camera at Rockbrook Village
2717 S. 108th St.
M-F/9am-7pm; Sat/9am-5pm; Sun/12-5pm
402-397-1171
rockbrookcamera.com

Rockbrook Camera at Legacy
2909 S. 169th Plz., Ste 100
M-F/9am-7pm; Sat/9am-5pm; Sun/12-5pm
402-691-0003
rockbrookcamera.com

CanvasPop

If you’re more of an online bargain hunter, check out CanvasPop, which often has great deals on its photo gifts. Since 2009, CanvasPop has been providing customers with the highest quality canvas photo prints anywhere. Unlike other photo printing locations, CanvasPop can create canvas prints from images beyond negatives and digital files. They can actually access your Facebook or Instagram accounts or pull photos directly from your mobile phone! With every canvas print you order, CanvasPop can also send you a free digital proof by e-mail so that you can see exactly what you’re getting.

Depending on the size, the type of canvas, and the framing, photo projects with CanvasPop can range from $30 to $419 (not including the flat rate of $14 for shipping and handling). If your order over $150, however, you can get free shipping. And if you don’t love it, CanvasPop will either reprint it or give you your money back.

CanvasPop also has multiple options for photo presentation. Photo collages can incorporate 3-20 photos (starting at $60); photo mosaics can incorporate 9-200 photos (starting at $60); and panoramic photo prints are available in 18×48, 24×72, or any custom size.

CanvasPop
1-866-619-9574
canvaspop.com