In the last two years Matt and Amy Cross of Enterprise have created a booming business out of their home. They now sell 1,300 different gadgets made by 25 different manufacturers and are marketing their products over five different Internet Web sites. In mid-January the business, M/A Digital, will expand into a new location on Main St. in Enterprise.
Their home has become a virtual warehouse of product inventory, and they even have their own Fed Ex truck which comes daily to take away their wares. One truck comes on either Saturday or Sunday as well. Outgoing Fed Ex trucks drive to La Grande where the product is flown to Pendleton, then to a sorting facility in Spokane. UPS and Fed Ex ground delivery trucks make regular stops at the home in the Highlands subdivision.
The business employs four people full time and has employed additional help to get through the busy Christmas rush. Matt Cross describes the Christmas season as starting in October and really hitting full stride the day after Thanksgiving.
What M/A Digital offers is a vast line of unique gifts not widely available in stores. One strong line is a wide variety of wireless specialty weather equipment, weather alert radios and lightning detection equipment which can range from $29 to $399 in price. They also sell a complete array of Swiss army knives and a new product from Night Star which makes flashlights of the future. Matt Cross says that a person can pick up a "magnetic shake" flashlight, shake it for 30 seconds and create enough electricity to power the light for five minutes without ever having to deal with batteries or light bulbs. As long as a person can shake the light, it will last indefinitely.
Cross says that the business has a cordial relationship with the city and city administrator Michele Young. The Crosses and the city know it is time now to move M/A Digital out of the Cross home. The couple have never had a home based occupation permit because they have too many employees to fit the permit definition.
Last week the Crosses signed a lease to rent a business front on Main Street of Enterprise to house their retail operation. It will be across the street from Radio Shack in a storefront owned by Eldon Foster and previously occupied by the Enterprise Flower Shop. Their target date to move into the new location, following the Christmas rush, painting and the couple's annual trip to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, is in the middle of January.
Potential buyers can now order products on-line, by e-mailing the business or by picking up the telephone. The business works with servers in Texas which take encrypted credit card orders on-line which the Enterprise business can take from the server and translate into work orders.
Amy Cross is the bookkeeper of a fast growing business.
Last Christmas M/A Digital had two Web sites on the Internet. Now they have five with a sixth set to go into place in January. The biggest site that carries the largest volume of their product is gadgets4sure.com.
Matt Cross's goal in the future is to expand primarily beyond the retail level to the wholesale level to sell to other retailers. He hopes in time to generate a business in Wallowa County that will employ more persons and pay competitive wages.
"We just kind of fell into it," said Cross about the origins of the Internet business. A former deputy with the Wallowa County Sheriff's Office, he began his own computer store and gradually found it more profitable to sell products on e-Bay. Then the jump to their own Web sites and the business began to flourish.
But it has not come without a price. Cross claims that, other than the annual week long Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, he and Amy have been working practically nonstop from morning to bedtime, seven days a week for the past two years. Only recently have they picked up full time employees.
The business is not an island located in Northeastern Oregon. Distribution partners work with M/A Digital with outlets in Cannon Beach, Beaverton, Kansas City and LaCrosse, Wisc. Some orders that come into the Enterprise site can be shipped out from the other locations.
In addition to advertising in Popular Science and Flying Magazine, M/A Digital has received good press coverage from other sources. Just recently the young business was featured on a CBS morning news magazine show called "Up To The Minute." They have also been noted in Hampton Inn's room magazine and Direct TV's special magazine.
If anyone has a need for a levitating globe or a portable solar equipment recharger for cell phones, gps units or other small electronic devices go to gadgets4sure.com. Matt and Amy Cross will fill your orders overnight (with an added cost) or within two to three days.