Recently, I was in a situation in which I was very uncomfortable. Not the kind of uncomfortable that would have me looking for the nearest adult, forgetting that I am one, but the kind of uncomfortable that pushed the boundaries of my own capabilities.
Somewhere on the rollercoaster of emotions between excitement and fear, I realized something — it had been a long time since I had been uncomfortable. Years, perhaps.
So, now I’m asking you — when was the last time you were uncomfortable?
I’m asking you this because, to be honest, I didn’t think that I was comfortable. I didn’t think I was complacent in my career or my personal life. But it turns out, I was. It is easier to become settled and comfortable than one may think.
In this issue, we put together our first feature story about the future of smart home products for the independent gourmet market. Truth be told, this was outside the comfort zone of GOURMET INSIDER®. It wasn’t easy, internally, to come up with a decision regarding the content. However, here we are, talking about the growth of smart products and which of these goods can find a home in the independent gourmet housewares channel. It was a moment where we chose to get out of our comfort zone because that’s what Gourmet Insider has become known for.
And, we couldn’t mention getting out of your comfort zone without mentioning our gia winner. Jamie Butler, owner of Escalon, CA-based The Butler’s Pantry, has spent a majority of the last few years being uncomfortable. She converted her business from a truck to a brick-and-mortar location, taking a chance on a downtown area with minimal foot traffic. She is always planning new out-of-the-box workshops and events to bring members of the community into her store — even ones that don’t cook. She is currently in the process of expanding her space, taking on a knife sharpening program and creating more room for products that are unique, functional and fit the vision she has for her store.
Networking, too, is an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone. Chris Wiedemer, owner of Rochester, NY-based Cooks’ World, coordinates a retreat every year with independent retailers in his area. These aren’t just housewares retailers (he does that, too!), but shop owners in his area from different sectors of business. The group takes time learning about best practices and local trends, looping each other into the knowledge each one possesses outside of their own corner of the world.This, Chris told me, helps him figure out holes in his business, how to take larger trends and make them applicable to his store and how he can widen his community scope. While it may be uncomfortable to join a Chamber of Commerce meeting or head to a networking event — especially if you don’t live in the community where you work — it’s a resource that may end up bringing your business more value than you ever thought.
There are so many of you bringing in complementary products, investing in new extensive lines and even finding that quirky item that doesn’t quite fit, but works for your customer base. On the flip side, there are just as many of you that continue patterns that have been set for years. Don’t misunderstand me — there is nothing wrong with a blueprint or a map to help guide your business. But you can’t be afraid to change course, especially when the old one no longer leads to the de- sired outcome.
In a time where the retail landscape is in a constant shift, getting comfortable is not the way to ensure success. You cannot just do the same thing you did the year before and believe that it will grow sales and bring in new customers. Real growth — professionally and personally — happens when you are no longer in your comfort zone.
It’s up to you to turn discomfort into inspiration. And when you do, your bottom line will thank you for it.