Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We're tying in with Avatars United!

Hello everyone,

Virtual Merchants will be integrating with Avatars United's Second Life Group. This means that we'll be focusing on business owners who join the group, so if you'd like to have your business covered, we'll be accepting requests from the group only.

Membership is open to everyone, from newcomers to established professionals, fun seekers, builders, scripters, buyers, sellers, bloggers, singers, artists, musicians, playwrights, machinima makers, writers, and more. Just click on the link above, sign up and you're in!

Thank you,

Lionel Oliva

Monday, September 22, 2008

Plan A Trip To This SL Planetarium!

While meeting up with my friend Kaffe I came across a pretty trippy planetarium. Located at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Ginsberg/139/230/38, it not only features the planets but an always-changing array of cosmic particle objects. Astronomers who can sketch out the visible stars of the cosmos from memory may not be impressed with this artistic interpretation of the heavens, but it's still an enjoyable SL tribute to the wonders of the solar system and universe.

Monday, September 15, 2008

From New Year's To Nativity, TP in... and Buy Some Divivity!

Our intrepid reporter Saunders Baxton made a trip to Divivity, one of SL's most enduring food, flower and seasonal item stores. Owner Vivianne OFlynn was glad to take time from her store duties and grant Saunders and interview.

Vivianne OFlynn: Hiya Saunders :) Welcome to Divivity :)

Saunders Baxton: Ah, hello. thank you for the warm welcome. How have you been?

Vivianne OFlynn: Busy making Danishes and Halloween treats these days. Divivity is a business that follows the seasons!

Saunders Baxton: Your Halloween items look really fun. How did Divivity get to a point where you could sell seasonally?

Vivianne OFlynn: It started out in 2003 as a small greenhouse on a very small plot of land in this same sim; Divivity takes up about 3/4 of the sim now.

Saunders Baxton: I saw the bought-on date for this land... impressive.

Vivianne OFlynn: Well, we occupied it earlier than that. In the very early days, the land was not bought or sold. In fact, the original pieces we got for free from the Governor :) We began with a brand identity and took it from there. Branding a business name is vital. There are too many that are not memorable enough.

Saunders Baxton: I know what you mean. There was... oh, I forget the name.

Vivianne OFlynn (laughs): there is only one Divivity in SL, and we create items using our brand.
For example, many people make liquor drinks using real life brands, which IS against the TOS but no one does anything about it. But we do make our own brand, and we establish it through our products. Every single thing we make has Divivity in front of the description. And we don't offer mods on most things, so the name has to stay. I have even sold businesses in a box to people, but the brand name stays put (laughs). It spreads out as the SL world does; like SL we are not just selling product but the name too.

Saunders Baxton: How else have you maintained and improved your SL presence?

Vivianne OFlynn: Another cornerstone is selling quality product. Many people are in a great rush to create something to sell and do not perfect it. In the old days, that was okay. We had all kinds of sloppy stuff. But now, there is too much competition. My competition here has a larger volume of items, but a lot of it can't take the zoooom in test (laughs).

Saunders Baxton: ah... I've always marveled at the level of quality for food items.

Vivianne OFlynn: Precision in creation, despite a smaller product range, is the way to build a clientele. I would also emphasize customer service to anyone starting out. I stay at my shop and greet and assist people. I read on the SLX forums that people don't do that because they fear scaring people away. But I have found that if someone doesn't want to speak to me, they don't. I welcome them, offer assistance and then scoot. But more often than not, people DO want help, in particular if the shop is big and people can't find things.

Saunders Baxton: Going by that, what is your take on shop owners who use a teleport landing point and force people to look at everything you have before finding what they came for?

Vivianne OFlynn: We used to have a teleport to different locations, but the script was borky and well, we just left it out (laughs). I get peeps to stay longer other ways ;) One thing I do, that they do in real life all the time: I offer weekly specials. Would you care to see the main food shop? I can show you what I mean.

Saunders Baxton: So it is within walking distance then... certainly.

Vivianne OFlynn: Oh yes, we can walk over and you can see more of what Divivity offers. This is our original shop. Actually, if you look at my profile picks you can see our history in Doggerel. Because we have limited space, we do three modes of presenting the product: in boxes, actually rezzed, and in temp-rez vendors. In this food shop I offer items for free and for one Linden. People come here every week to see how I have changed it up... and it takes them a bit of time to find the cheapies. So I don't need them to go teleporting all over, they know exactly where to go to find the permanent treasure hunt.

It cracks me up though sometimes. One guy bought 50 bowls of peas and carrots!

Saunders Baxton: Sounds like a "regular" customer.

Vivianne OFlynn: For sure. And yard sale peeps swoop in for the cheapies. Back in the day, I rented a bit, now I only set up on request for people if at all. So if peeps don't come here, they don't get the goodies. That's what helps bring people here.

Saunders Baxton: How do you write your ad copy and sell your items?

Vivianne OFlynn: The writeups are whimsical , but that is the tenor of Divivity. And to be honest, I think I sell a fair number of things just by the way I name them or describe them. Also, I limit my SLExchange listings. I could have thousands of things on there; what you see is only a small fraction of my stock. Since I am in the seasonal niche, I don't have to have it out all at once anyway. But I think anyone could learn from that.

Saunders Baxton: It all lines up quite pleasingly.

Vivianne OFlynn: Peeps have to change it up a bit. Actually this is a result of later land acquisitions, plus a need to keep it open for people not to feel space-oppressed. So it is a circular walkabout. If you follow me, I can show you one more important location. The greater portion of Divivity, land wise, is over this big bridge. It is the way we started actually, selling flowers and plants. It is a presentation of those items that no one else has done in SL. There are many greenhouses and nurseries now, but they try to replicate those in real life.

Divivity Landscaping is arranged by color, not like any real life nursery I have ever seen.

Saunders Baxton: I see... a greater pattern is at work here. :) It's unique, a very striking effect.

Vivianne OFlynn: Well I actually landscape with the items I am selling, so peeps get some idea how it might look for them. Oh, and across that bridge, some interesting lore I try to promote as often as I can.

There is a very small chunk of land I surround, owned by Governor Linden. On it is a piano keyboard made by Philip Linden in 2002, that the Governor currently sells for 1 Linden (laughs).

Saunders Baxton: I'll make a note of that...

Vivianne OFlynn: I built a piano bar restaurant around it. Come get one! It is a collector's item.

Piano: Detected 1 clips.
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Piano Key: Detected 1 clips.

Vivianne OFlynn: we serve His Royal High Nuts at the bar, and the place is named Exordium, since that is what he is now.

Piano Key: Detected 1 clips.
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Piano Key: Detected 1 clips.

Vivianne OFlynn:: Isn't that thing annoying? The roof of this place replicates his keyboard and plays too.

Saunders Baxton: It's charming like my TI-99/4A. In closing, do you have any more advice for beginning shop owners?

Vivianne OFlynn: Location, location, location. New business peeps need to carefully consider that. We are right next to the Ivory Tower of Primitives sandbox. We get a ton of fly-by traffic that way. And do you realize you have actually walked across an entire sim? Flying and teleporting is over-rated.

Saunders Baxton: It is nice to be able to access everything in a first-time visit, instead of having to mash buttons. Thanks for the tour Vivianne!

Vivianne OFlynn: You're welcome!

Divivity can be found at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Minna/54/166/30.

Other On-Site Attractions:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Getting Back To Business!

Hello everyone, and thank you for reading Virtual Merchants.

Lately I've been sidetracked by a career change; I quit my job, and went back to my old workplace for a few hours a week. I've also been studying ProBlogger.net's excellent book and I've condensed about 200 pages of notes into a one-page blog guide. I'll be applying that guide to this and my other blogs.

And with the extra amount of time I have, I can now dedicate 4-5 posts a week to Virtual Merchants. I plan to post once a day during weekdays and provide a few guest commentaries and articles during the weekends. If you have any requests, feedback, story ideas, or actual stories, please contact sumosales man@aol.com. Yes, the space is intentional to keep spambots away.

Also, if you like reading about the fun stuff there is out there, please check out Squad Village's blog at http://squadvillage.blogspot.com. Roxie Logan works very hard to get the word out about fun Second Life happenings and her site is always worth checking out. Thanks again for your support!

And check us out at http://twitter.com/virtualmerchant. Follow us and we'll follow you! We won't even ask questions when we do... unless you really want us to.

Last of all, if you're an enterprising writer, and have a story you'd love to get out, contact us in-world (Lionel Oliva).


Monday, September 8, 2008

Tiny Life: Second Life's Puppy Poppets

I've never dealt with tinies in Second Life because I thought either

A. Tiny makers couldn't put enough detail in textures and prims, or

B. The market was primitive and alien.

I don't even remember how I got there, but seeing the tiny village at Adelebsen Isle was an eye-opener. Such a thriving collection of businesses!

One that stuck out was Puppy Poppets. Believe me when I say I'd rather be scripting or making explosions, skydiving in SL without a parachute, or even sleeping, than in a 100% cute store.

But Puppy Poppets is more than a cutesy-bootsy booth thrown up at random and slathered with charmingly hackneyed textures. It's one of the best-set-up stores I've seen in SL so far, with a very eye-pleasing layout that lets you browse over dozens of designs, yet zoom in on the items you like.

It's a rare store that deals in cute things, yet actually offers something I can use without running for the nearest cutesy first aid station. And for those who enjoy tinies, Etheria Parrott has put a super-sized amount of TLC in each creation, with more creatures and creature comforts than you can shake a tiny stick at! Sandals, tie-dyes, sculpted 4-prim beds, nose flies (for the outdoorsy types), even whips (crack!),
puppy saddles and balance beams jump out in cheerful chaos at the viewer. Avatars include puppies, elephants (from calico to gold), snowmen, ostriches, and... DNA?!? Whatever you expect to find here, you will still find something totally unexpected, and likely intriguing as well. I bet I'd get a laugh out of the beating heart for big people, the tiny tank, or the tiny stink bombs.

Puppy Poppets is a delight to the heart and eye, a gallery of tiny treasures you can purchase and take home with you. It is found at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Adelebsen%20Isle/51/193/24.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

SL Art That Leaps Out At You: Amani Gallery

I like 2D images a lot. I've liked 'em since I was a kid! But since I've stopped in at Amani Gallery in Marketing Island, the L$ is about ready to jump out of my account to buy some of the dynamic art here.

Artist Vroum Short features abstractly deformed 3D and texture-changing pieces here to complement the chromatic Gogh-esque works of Garp Magic, the animated nature/urban photography of Mer Dreier, the Miro-influenced work of Giovanni Ricciardi, and others. Also come view and buy original works inspired by da Vinci, Picasso, Brecht, Rimbaud and Poe!

Again, Amani Gallery can be found at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Marketing%20Island/250/44/27.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wales Springs

Wales Springs, a place in Second Life where Reality does seem to merge with Second Life.

As you teleport onto the sim, you can immediately see that this is a work of passion, a work of art. Vintage cars parked up at the garage waiting to be refueled, fields of hay waiting to be harvested, a house up the road looking out into the countryside, and the lonely light at the middle of the crossroads.

Truly an ispiration to see what Second Life can now bring to us in this age!

You can visit Wales Springs via this link: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Wales+Springs/128/128/0

Photos by Balduin Aabye and Carlotta Ceawlin

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