We’d like to introduce you to just such an entrepreneur: Beth Porter, Owner of Eggshells Kitchen Co.
Beth, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Your business looks amazing! Please tell us about Eggshells Kitchen Co.
We are a kitchen gadget and small pantry gifts store. We have it all! You can come in for pots and pans or hard to find ingredients. Maybe you need something special for your charcuterie board. We have all kinds of gifts for housewarming or hostess gifts. We have a gift registry too, but it’s on my list to update and make part of a more seamless shopping experience. There are also cooking classes. Between January and September we try to hold at least four classes a month – and sometimes more. During the summer it picks up a lot with classes on topics like cocktails, making tamales and how to use a PK Grill. For the holidays we are adding tablescapes. There’s a wide range of themes, and it’s always fun. I especially enjoy watching as people meet their future best friends. They may have been strangers at the beginning of the class, but by the end, they are hugging goodbye and making plans to get together.
Is this the first business you’ve owned?
No, I owned another business but it was out of town and required too much travel. It was short-lived and just didn’t work out. My husband owns quite a few side gigs.
Were you considering other businesses when you bought this?
No. I had a part-time job at a travel agency, then COVID happened and there was no place for anyone to go. Initially, I stayed home and did projects around the house. Then I saw on Facebook that Eggshells was available and thought, “Well, there’s nothing like buying a business during a pandemic!” We purchased it in June of 2020.
What was it about Eggshells that prompted you to go for it?
My husband and I both like to cook and entertain. This is a neighborhood store and I’ve been shopping there since it opened 13 years ago, so I already knew the business. I’m only the 3rd owner. My children are now old enough to work in the store and thought it would be wonderful to work together. It was just a perfect fit.
Since we owned businesses already, we knew what we were getting into. Luckily, the woman who started the business 13+ years ago was someone we already knew well. She owns another retail business on the block. She was able to give us insights into what to expect. We got the chance to ask questions about the landlord and how things worked in the neighborhood. We could ask the weird and hard questions you can’t really ask the person you are buying the business from. The information she provided was key in helping us make the decision.
Who are some of the other advisors who helped you?
You have to do a lot of research to determine whether to buy a business or not. We talked internally at home for hours, plus had lots of discussions with lots of people, including our CPA and bankers. We already had a relationship with First Financial Bank and didn’t think twice about working with them for this.
What was it like working with FFB’s lending team?
The team is great. Their location is so convenient. We already had a relationship with some of the folks. They make it super easy. I have their cell numbers and can text on a Sunday if we have questions. From Chris Johnson (Regional Market President) to the tellers – they make me happy when I pull up at the drive-thru windows!
The pandemic has required most business owners to shift gears/change plans. What types of things did you do to adapt/adjust? Were there any silver linings?
After buying, we didn’t realize how much inventory we’d really need for the 4th quarter. We knew we needed to amp it up some, but we didn’t think we could compare year over year because of the pandemic. For holidays 2021 we’ll be looking at 2019 for comparisons.
One of the things we did to adapt was to offer curbside pickup. This was such a hit, we are planning to do well beyond the end of the pandemic. We also offer delivery services within 5 miles of the store. We are a neighborhood store and this is a very popular program, so we’re planning to make it a regular part of our services.
What kind of advice would you give someone considering buying or starting a new business?
Doing your research is most important in all aspects. You have to know your strengths and mine is not finance. So you have to work with really smart people. I can do marketing and creative aspects of the business. I get help for other things.
Also, knowing the location and the clientele around that location is key. You have to stock what your shoppers will buy, even though it may not be what you would buy. Buy for the taste of your customers, not for yourself.
Where would you like to see your business be in a few years – and beyond?
I want to grow the online business more. I still have lots of things to learn. Eggshells Kitchen Co. is more than just kitchen supplies, it’s somewhere to enjoy new experiences. We want people to love to cook and to cook more at home. We hope people enjoy shopping at our store to better entertain or spend time with their family through food.