This year, The Cook Store celebrates 40 years in business at their Mountain Brook Village location. Aside from great products and customer service, we wanted to know the secret to their success. To find out, we talked to owner Wesley Lassen, and she shared 25 reasons why they’ve withstood the test of time. Here is her unofficial list:
1. Sam Franks and Betty Knight. Sam is the original owner of The Kitchen Shoppe, which he started in 1975. Betty bought the shop from Sam, changed the name to The Cook Store and ran the shop for 14 years.
2. My husband Hal and my parents. Hal graciously agreed to let me quit my paying job for an adventure that, for several years, paid nothing. My mom has been my free help and bouncing board forever. She also keeps me calm! My dad has been kind enough to lend me my mom and is always a constant supporter.
3. Customers and great employees! My customers are the most important thing that keeps us open. And most of my employees have been with me for years.
4. Sales reps and vendors. The sales reps keep me in the know about all-things-new in the kitchen world. And you can’t have a great shop without great vendors.
5. My bank and my accountant. Money is a stressful thing! I can’t run the shop without support from my favorite local bank, NBC. And it’s important to surround yourself with people who can give you great financial advice.
6. Friends. I have so many friends who shop with me and support me. I also have so many friends who I’ve made by them just being customers.
7. Pottery, pottery, pottery! The Cook Store has a great reputation for functional pottery. It is one of the things we are known for and love.
8. Brides and grooms. Our wedding business is huge! We have a registry (get your name up on our big chalkboard!), and we wrap and deliver for free within the area. This is a huge part of my business.
9. The Mountain Brook merchants. We all try to keep the business local. It’s what keeps all of us around.
10. The Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce. They help us have successful events and support our community.
11. Social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great ways to show off your merchandise. I’m amazed at how much I sell off social media.
12. Publications, both print and online. OTMJ and Village Living are great advertising outlets and are supportive with great stories about us. And StyleBlueprint is, of course, a great advertising outlet and very supportive of ALL local businesses.
14. Gourmet Catalog & Buying Group, which is a national culinary retail group that I belong to that helps local kitchen specialty shops get exposure and the best pricing from kitchenware vendors.
15. Garden club programs, which are great exposure, lots of fun and usually result with great sales.
16. Honesty. It is more important to get people what they want or need than to make a sale. I find often that the customer has just what they need at home if you talk it through with them. I know they will come back if I’m honest with them and simply help solve their problem.
17. Our Wish Book. We are religious about our Wish Book. If you have something you want and we don’t have it, we will call you when it comes in, even if it is six months later.
18. If you need a quick sugar fix, we always have free jelly beans at the counter.
19. Our Chef Man Mario always makes everyone smile and tells our hours (he has to stay inside for the time being … long story!).
20. Special items, such as Le Creuset skillets and Ellis Stansel rice. The Le Creuset skillet is one of my favorite items in the shop. It’s the best nonstick skillet you will ever use! And the Ellis Stansel rice has been in the shop since 1975. It’s the best white rice you will ever taste from Louisiana.
21. Free gift wrap. We want you to be excited by a beautifully wrapped Cook Store package.
22. Recipes. We love to share recipes, and it gets people excited to try something new.
23. Plates, bowls and mugs! We’ve ordered our square wooden plates 200 at a time for years, and we still sell out. The noodle bowls by Earthborn Studios pottery by Tena Payne … I never leave their studio without 50, and I’m out there every two weeks. You can never have too many noodle bowls! And the mugs are one of our most popular items. We have great mugs from all our potters.
24. Window decorations. We pride ourselves in always having a cute, fun and enticing window.
25. Market Day in July. This is our biggest sale day of the year with the best deals. Everyone looks forward to Market Day!
Congrats on 40 years of success, and here’s to many more!