Profiles of Success: Faradays Kitchen Store

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Travis McAshan
Published Jul 2010
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In a nutshell… we spent some time with owner, Tony Curtis-Wellings of Faradays Kitchen Store to learn more about his business, beliefs, and ongoing path towards success.

Q: What inspired you to begin this business?

After working in corporate America for 15 years, I was tired of it, and I wanted to start my own business. I moved from Colorado to Texas, looking for a business to buy. I was inspired by the shops by the Arboretum in 2005, especially William Sonoma and Sur le Table. After doing some research and speaking with people in the food/retail industry, I wrote a business plan and got approved for a loan. In March of 2005, I had the funding to open my own store, and I signed the first lease on March 18. I spent the next three months buying products, researching vendors and working with an industry consultant. On July 1, we began moving into the new building, but it took about four weeks to set up the store.  Our grand opening was at the end of July 2005.

Q: How has your business evolved into what it is today?

It was very important to me from the beginning to lay out a clean, clear plan and stick with it, which we have; but we have definitely matured.  Experience, buying ability, better product assortment and customer satisfaction has changed, but our plan has stayed the same for the last five years. Small businesses can be profitable if they are nimble and able to give customers what they want. Our mission statement is lived and breathed, but we adapt to our customers.

Q: What is the most interesting/fun aspect of running Faradays?

I love people, so I definitely enjoy interaction with customers and fellow workers. I’m very involved with my company, so I love going out and hearing feedback directly from our customers. I enjoy reading registration/feedback cards. And because I am in the store most of the time, I feel like I can get to know my customers well.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge in your business so far?

Branding! There are two parts to marketing- branding and a call to action. I am definitely more of a sales guy, not a marketing guy, so it is a big challenge.

Q: How have you handled the shift in the economy?

When I saw that competitors’ sales were down, Faradays felt the effects. Because we have a “good, better, best” value and pricing structure, customers are able to have products based on their individual price-preference level. Sales in higher end products dropped with the economy, as customers bought middle to low end products. We feel fortunate that we can offer such options. We also impose a minimal advertising price strategy; when vendors say we can’t sell products for less than X, we sell them at the lowest price possible. Having a business plan and finances set for the next several years has helped. And we only buy products we need at the time; when the economy changed quickly, we did not lose much money in product or overhead.

Q: Where do you anticipate your business will head in the next year? Five years?

I’d like to see one of three things: Coming out of the recession; expanding the current store or growing with two or three locations; or operating as a franchise.

Q: How do you stand out from your competition or other people in your field?

We set our standards very high in customer relations and service. Our products may change out, but our structure has stayed the same. We pride ourselves in customer adaptability and the ability to bring in those products our customers want. We have also documented everything very well for future stores.

Q: As a business owner, what drives you or helps keep you motivated?

I get my motivation from raised revenue, spreadsheets, daily and monthly objectives and beating my own goals. I keep my employees motivated by awarding money or prizes when goals are exceeded.

Q: How has Glide assisted you in accomplishing your business goals?

KISS! (Keep It Simple Stupid!) Glide and Faradays worked as a partnership, as we were both trying to expand our businesses. We had the same belief that net worth depends on net WORK; and  as our network grew, our net worth grew. We knew the environments of our businesses, were on the same level business-wise, had quality products and services and wanted to reach more customers. Glide’s team is responsive and gives high customer service. They are quality workers, good listeners and excellent plan executors. Glide wants to know what their customers want and how they can give it to them.

Q: How do you market your business?

Of course we have our website, but we also put out a bi-yearly,  40-page coffee table catalog, with 600 pictures. We try to keep a constant presence in the public eye by appearing in newspapers, online and Austin monthly. We occasionally do radio ads. We also have 20-25 marketing partnerships, using maybe 1 or 2 at a time.

Q: Do you implement any GREEN tactics/techniques/methods into your daily business routine?

We don’t use a lot of paper, as I prefer to do things electronically, and we always reuse cardboard boxes and packaging. I don’t like waste. Our employees are aware of what they use and how. We also make lists before buying products so we don’t duplicate products.

Q: Name something you miss about being a kid?

Lack of routine. Carefree. Spontaneity. Naivety.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

I can play percussion instruments.

Q: Do you collect anything?

I collect stamps and I love photography.

What topics would you like to see us write about next?