Since opening in April 2009, The ShowRoom, an independent movie theater in Asbury Park, N.J., has made quite an impact on the art scene of the seaside town best known for its rock 'n' roll clubs and bars. The art house theater has been named the top independent movie theater in New Jersey and is in the process of expanding into a larger location. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with Nancy Sabino, co-founder of The ShowRoom, about the challenges of starting a business and how the company has grown so quickly in such a short time. Sabino co-owns the theater with Mike Sodano.
BusinessNewsDaily: Tell us about The ShowRoom.
Nancy Sabino: We noticed a distinct lack of entertainment aimed at adults in Asbury Park. Bars and restaurants provided the only venues for live performances and movies. Asbury Park at one time had seven movie palaces and was the home of movie impresario Walter Reade, so it seemed to be a perfect environment to test the waters for a movie-going audience. With the thriving art and crafts businesses, a movie theater and a destination venue for small performances seemed like a good bet.
BND: What opportunity did you see that you thought you could take advantage of?
NS: Opportunity is Asbury Park's middle name. The city is developing before our eyes and everywhere there is possibility, from new townhouses and condos to rental units and restaurants everywhere. Businesses continue to pop up and fill out the niche markets. There was no dedicated movie theater and we understood what it takes to make a pristine screening room. It seemed to us a challenge we were equipped for at a time we were looking to transition our careers.The ShowRoom co-owners Nancy Sabino and Mike Sodano
BND: Can you speak a bit about the challenges you faced in your journey and how you faced them?
NS: We were challenged by working in an entirely new marketplace, screening the types of movies that would bring out an audience and finding out who our loyal base was. Learning that new marketplace took time. No matter how long we'd been in our previous business, there was nothing that was going to make us successful quickly. We had to grow slowly, and we had to learn patience. We made mistakes, lucked into a few great distributors who worked with us and slowly were discovered by "cinephiles" and everyday movie lovers. The city welcomed and supported us early, which helped us overcome some of the low times. As we grew, our audiences continued to grow and praise our efforts. That makes it all worthwhile.
BND: What are your plans for and how do you plan to handle growth?
NS: Growth is needed to bring more business during the day into our space, and soon to be spaces, once we move to our new location across the street this fall. We are currently marketing ourselves to elicit more interest in renting our new rooms.
BND: What can other businesses learn from your story?
NS: Be open to listen to your customers when they tell you what they think important. Offer options to them and never lose a customer if you can help it. You must make sure all your employees act as your representative and that they treat the customers well.
BND: What advice do you have for other businesses or entrepreneurs?
NS: Start small, work hard, ask for help and always be humble. You should always strive to offer exceptional service and products that are wholly your own.