It all started with a nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away, said Alicia Cahill, owner of Galveston, TX-based The Kitchen Chick.
“I have always loved to cook and bake, so whenever I traveled, I would take cooking classes if I could. I noticed that it seemed like these great kitchen stores anchored downtown areas,” she said.
Cahill, who was working for the city in marketing and public relations at the time, thought that someone would surely bring that type of business to Galveston, but no one did and the idea was one she kept thinking about. She explained that the closest kitchen store to the island was a 30-minute to an hour drive and the only other option was purchasing online, something that she feels may work for other things, but not for kitchen items.
“You need to really see and feel the products that you want to bring into your kitchen. I am a big believer in that,” she said.
Realizing that home cooking and entertaining was trending upwards with the increasing popularity of Food Network and other cooking channels, and combining it with her passion for all things cooking and baking, Cahill decided to take a chance and follow that gut feeling.
So, in the summer of 2012, she did. “I decided that I would just try it because if I tried it and it didn’t work, then I would know. I didn’t want to be haunted by the idea,” she said.
Soon, she was signing a lease for an 800-square-foot store in the downtown area of Galveston and was beginning her hunt to find the housewares products that would be the start of her business.
“I started opening the cabinets and the drawers at home and figured out what brands I was buying to use myself,” she said. “When I buy, I buy for quality and ease and they may not always be the products that are the top pricepoint,” she said.
The store opened and was met with a warm welcome from the community, so much so that Cahill added cooking classes about six months later. “I call this the pioneering days,” she said. “We didn’t have a kitchen, so anytime I had a cooking class, I would clear off this large table we had in the middle, bring in stools and portable units and people would just cook there in the middle of the merchandise,” she said.
But, it seemed, her patrons didn’t mind one bit. By the store’s first anniversary, she had to lease the space next door to expand the business from 800 square feet to 1,500 square feet, although, she said, much of it become a dedicated cooking class area.
However, five years later, the business was still growing. Cahill was adding new items, bringing in things that her customers loved and asked for. And, while that was happening, the store’s cooking classes were becoming increasingly popular. It may seem like a good problem to have, but it was a dilemma for Cahill.
“The store was, well, in real estate they use the word cozy, but it was cramped and it wasn’t working on any level,” she said. “I just got to the point where I knew I was going to have to grow or close, even though the store was charming.”
And after a few months of searching, Cahill found the place The Kitchen Chick now calls home, almost by accident. A 10,000 square foot building that had been vacant for years was mentioned a few times by a friend. So, she went to see it and in June of 2017, she purchased the building. She officially opened the new location in January 2018.
To read the full story, pick up the May/June Issue of GOURMET INSIDER.