Small Business Round Table with Congressman Dan Donovan

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Recently I was invited for a follow up meeting with Congressman Donovan in his Staten Island office after my visit to his Washington DC office during Small Business Week eBay DC Fly-in 2017.  Ed Varuolo of Hypno-Tronic Comics and Tariq Zaid of Richmond Hood Company  and I talked to the Congressman about Staten Island development, taxes, the proposed internet tax, and proposed changes to the health care system and how they would affect us and our small businesses.

We appreciated a chance to voice our concerns and to make the point that NY and Staten Island has many small businesses both brick and mortar and online.  Big issues can sometimes have a crushing effect on us as people think of the large corporations and forget the ‘Mom and Pop’  size places.  More work needs to be done and we will continue to make sure our voices get heard.

Thanks to Congressman Donovan for meeting with us, Patrick Ryan for setting it up and Henry Salmon of Equity Valuation Associates, Steven Grillo of the SIEDC, Dean Balsamini of the SBDC, and Linda Baran of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce for their contribution and support.

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eBay Advocacy Day 2017

Recently, I was invited to Washington  DC to  attend eBay’s Advocacy Day on Wed May 3, 2017 as part of a group of about 20 businesses from across the US.  It was a wonderful chance to network, learn, and  talk about the challenges we face as small businesses.  eBay Advocacy Day is an annual event out together by the eBay Government Relations Team.  The team set up meetings with our representatives in the Senate and Congress where we talked about internet tax, open trade, NAFTA, and how government regulations affect our business.  We also visited the White House for a meeting with Andrew Bremberg, the Assistant to the President and the Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Michael Kratsios, the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer.  The lines of communication were open and information exchanged.

That week we were in Washington also happened to be Small Business Week – April 30th to May 6, 2017 so it was doubly exciting to be in Washington for this celebration.

And after the hard work, comes the celebration.   The  eBay team set up a Seller Showcase at Eastern Market and treated us to a party.  Here’s a video from the Hey Viv ! Booth.

Going to eBay Washington DC Fly In

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Wow ! I have been selected to go to Washington DC for this year’s eBay Main Street Washington DC Fly In on May 2-4!

#DCFlyIn17 is bringing together 23 local small businesses from 18 states to meet with our nation’s Congressmen and women and their staff members to lobby on behalf of small business. Let’s get our voices heard !

Make Your Voice Heard – eBay Main Street is a global grassroots action network that keeps you informed and engaged on public policy issues that affect ecommerce. Learn more at  www.ebaymainstreet.com

#protectsmallbiz #DCFlyIn17 #eBay #heyvivretro #smallbusiness #washingtondc #smallbusinessweek #ecommerce #shopsmall #ebaymainstreet

NY State Budget Sales Tax Concerns

On Tuesday, March 7, 2017 six eBay sellers took a trip to Albany to speak with Senators and Assemblymembers about proposed provisions in the NY Budget.

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Meeting with NY State Assemblymember Peter Abbate

The NY State Budget now under consideration has a proposed provision regarding sales tax on internet purchases shipping into NY State. This change could set a precedent that other states may follow. This provision would require NY-based internet marketplaces to collect and remit sales tax on behalf of its sellers, regardless of whether or not the seller has a physical presence in the state of NY. (for example – eBay has NY offices so they would have to collect NY sales tax for orders coming in to NY state. ) More money for NY but headaches and higher fees for all of us who sell on online marketplaces..

Thanks to Laura Dooley and Emily Shuttleworth from the eBay Government Relations team for arranging the trip and appointments with:

Senator Simcha Felder
Assemblymember Peter Abbate
Senator Richard Funke
Assemblymember Ken Zabrowski
Assemblymember Felix Ortiz
Senator John DeFrancisco
Assemblymember Diana Richardson

eBay Businesses Represented:
George’s Toy Chest – Anastasia Andrzejewski

NYC Fitness, Family & Finds – Kathy Terrill

The Prune Danish – Mendy Lieberman

Whitney Portal LLC – Harris and Gwen Gisel

Hey Viv ! Retro Clothing – Vivian Vivian Hey Viv Vassar

See more

#NoNyNetTax  #NoNetTax

Staten Island Is My Home

I’m a Staten Islander even though I’ve only lived in Staten Island for 30 years – some people say it doesn’t really count unless you’re born here 🙂    My business, Hey Viv! Vintage Clothing opened on Port Richmond Ave,  we got married here, bought our first house and raised 3 kids who are proud to say they are from Staten Island.   Here’s some other reasons I like Staten Island.

Loyalty: people are loyal In Staten Island and support local arts and local businesses.  This may be because we feel a little cut off sometimes (we are an island after all) and we tend to nurture our own.  Staten Island is pretty big yet has a small town feel and people get to know you.

Parks: Staten Island has more than 12,300 acres of protected parkland.  We have green space, beaches, lakes, places to hike and botanical gardens.  Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we are part of New York City.   And best of all,  my business is a block from Snug Harbor’s 83 acres of gardens, paths and ponds where I can bike and walk everyday

Central Location: Staten Island is only a Ferry ride away from Manhattan and everything it has to offer.  On the other side – New Jersey has shopping, small towns to explore and of course the Jersey Shore.  Ride an hour or so upstate and you’ve got the Catskills, the Delaware River and more.

Staten Island is a mix of suburbia and city, of quiet and hustle.  It all depends on what part of Staten Island you are in.  Travel 10 minutes in any direction and see how much it changes.  And I like all those differences – Staten Island has been very good for me and for Hey Viv !   Here’s to the next 30 years !

Inspiration for a Small Business

Wow ! 30 years in business ! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.  I started Hey Viv ! in 1986 by opening  a small 16′ by 25′ store in Staten Island.  Here’s how I looked on opening day.  (obviously I love hats)

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Thinking about what inspired me to start this project and grow it into the thriving business it is today I have to credit a few people.  Here goes….

  • My husband Mark who never said I was crazy for wanting to open a vintage clothing store.  He helped me rehab the store space, painted, sawed and hammered without complaint (except when I wanted to paint the store pink – that I heard about ! )  With Mark’s help I got up and running in 1986 and never looked back.
  • The local LDC (Local Development Center) and SCORE office.  Their staff walked me through the paper work and answered hundreds of questions.  One counselor told me: “It’s your business.  Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do it.”
  • Thank you to the first person who walked through the door to my new store.  She came in to browse but didn’t see anything she wanted.  When I told her she was the first person to come in she promptly bought a scarf.  What a feeling !
  • And to all my friends who listened, shopped, advised and cheered me up and cheered me on.  Thanks for your support.

Inspiration

So that’s some of the people who helped me to start and keep my small business going.  Who inspires you to keep going ?

Building Our Team – 30 years at Hey Viv !

Here I am at my first show at my new store in 1986

Here I am at my first show at my new store in 1986

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since I opened “Hey Viv – Vintage Clothing ” in Port Richmond.  It started with a dream to own my own business and have lots of time off. (as you can tell, I had never run a business before )

Hey Viv grew from a tiny store into a bigger store, then 2 stores and then went fully online.  We went through many  trends from 1940’s padded shoulders to old Levis to bell bottoms to 50’s poodle skirts. We also branched out into Army Navy surplus and vintage records.

Here’s some of the people who have influenced and helped along the way.

Joanne Regan at the West Brighton LDC sat me down in the early days and made me organize my business.  She helped with paperwork, a business plan and listened to my dreams.  Joanne believed in me and gave me confidence.

The Netpreneurs, a group of online businesses on Staten island, made a huge difference in my online e commerce efforts. Our meetings covered everything from A to Z on the internet. Because of this group I bravely went in to the new world of eBay, Amazon and my own HeyViv.com site.

Jim Scharnott was my first full time employee.  He expanded our store selection with his record collection, often played DJ and made mix tapes to play in the store. Thanks to Jim we always had the weirdest Christmas music at the holidays and the nicest Santa every year.

In 2011 I attended Fast Trac at the Hoffman Institute taught by Jeri Quinn.  She became my coach and mentor.  With her help I expanded Hey Viv internationally and into wholesale.  We continue to meet and she inspires me everyday.

And of course, I credit a lot of my success to all the creative and smart people who come to work at Hey Viv.  Each of them brings their special talents and skills.   I’m excited when someone new comes on board.  I can’t wait to see what they will excel at, what they will teach us and projects they will develop. Hey Viv Inc is a business built on team work.