For those of you who have also disregarded conventional wisdom and started your own retail business, Brooklyn Kitchen co-owner Harry Rosenblum has five tips for turning a simple store into a thriving business.
1. “Never underestimate the power of customer service, good or bad.”
Even if a customer doesn’t buy anything, they can walk into The Brooklyn Kitchen and ask Rosenblum, co-owner Taylor Erkkinen or one of the butchers for cooking advice. By serving as a school as well as a store, The Brooklyn Kitchen differentiates itself from retailers on the Internet.
2. “You can’t make every customer happy. You can’t let that get to you.”
When customer service is your business, an unhappy shopper can seem like a personal failure. Success in retail requires mental toughness, and the self confidence to move on past small failures.
3. “Don’t lose sight of the big picture. If you have a bad Saturday, look at the whole month.”
Having perspective prevents small business owners from losing their psychological edge. It also allows owners to tell whether trends are just insignificant short term anomalies, or market shifts that require attention.
4. “Always remember why you got into the business. You have to want to be there, and you have to believe in your products.”
The Brooklyn Kitchen can’t match the variety of products available online, so they select the best products for each price point. Through knowledge and enthusiasm, the employees earn the customer’s trust about those selections.
5. “I don’t have to take the boxes out anymore, but I still do. Sometimes the business becomes bigger than you, and you have to let that happen.”
No one will ever clean up the store, check the security or update the inventory more diligently than you. However, as the business grows, your time is better spent doing other jobs. Striking a balance between staying in the trenches and dealing with the big picture is vital to surviving as a small retailer.