When Ginger Cobl opened The Cupboard in 2013, she made it a point to get to know her neighbors. Nestled in a bustling downtown area of Decatur, AL, many of The Cupboard’s neighboring businesses are small, independent shops, restaurants and artisans.
And while some may see this type of business landscape as heavy competition, Cobl feels it is quite the opposite.
“My theory has always been, especially in a downtown location, a rising tide lifts all ships. So you should never be afraid to promote someone down the street. If I don’t have something a customer is looking for, I’m going to send them to another locally-owned business owner and that always comes back to you,” she said.
Case in point, Cobl has cultivated a personal relationship with Natasha McCrary, the owner of 1818 Farms, a local bath product supplier. Cobl carries McCrary’s bath products at The Cupboard and their friendship has sparked quite a few promotional ideas that have provided a boon to both businesses.
Cobl explained that when McCrary, an avid gardener, was faced with an overabundance of tomato plants, Cobl suggested she sell them at a downtown Decatur late night shopping event.
“There is a third Friday event each month, where shops in our area stay open late. I suggested she come down to the shop and sell them. They sold well so now we do an annual 1818 Farm plant sale, which our customers look forward to,” said Cobl.
The success of the sales have led the two women to cultivate their collaboration into larger events, inviting other local community members into the fold.
For example, last year, Cobl suggested McCrary put a heavy focus herb plants, in addition to her usual tomato plants.
“My customers love the idea of growing herbs at home but it is hard to do so and then they are not sure what to do with them,” explained Cobl.
That sparked the idea for Cobl to host a seed starting class with McCrary, as well as an herb cooking class featuring a local chef. The classes were held at The Cupboard about a month out from the plant sale, she explained. This tactic helped the store gain extra foot traffic throughout the month–during the classes, as well as at the plant sale.
“Events are key. Letting your customer connect with vendors or local chefs is such a benefit to foot traffic and sales,” she said. “Your customers will love the introductions to new sources in the community and they will feel you are truly looking out for them and their best interests. That will always come back to you. The next time they need a knife or a pan, they’ll come shop with you.”