Opening a kitchen store can be an ideal vocation for a food aficionado with a particular enthusiasm for cooking utensils. Our collective passion for cooking, sparked during the 1950s and 1960s by eminent foodies such as James Beard, Craig Claiborne, and Julia Child, shows no sign of ebbing. In fact, the popularity of television cooking shows and farmers markets suggests that consumers are far from tired of cooking for both sustenance and pleasure. Because our interest in food has grown so diverse and sophisticated, a successful cooking store should cater to a particular niche rather than attempting to carry everything for everyone.
Choose a focus for your cooking store such as baking, high-end equipment, or confectionery supplies Pick a name that expresses your particular emphasis. An ideal focus should not be too narrow. For example, a store that specializes in baking equipment will have an easier time finding clientele than one that caters specifically to customers interested in making wedding cakes.
Familiarize yourself with suppliers, both major and obscure, that offer the particular type of equipment you plan to carry. Purchase and use different pots, pans, and utensils to get a sense of their quality and unique features. This will enable you to make informed choices about the products you carry, and prepare you to intelligently answer customer questions.
Network with amateur and professional cooking schools, as well as gourmet food stores in your area. Look for opportunities to promote your store through these avenues, which already attract your target market. Advertise on the back of cash register receipts at appropriate stores, and in the food section of your local newspaper.
Plan opening day promotions, such as hiding high value coupons in boxes of particular products. Send press releases about your opening to food writers at local newspapers. Contact local food personalities and work to entice them to attend your opening.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.