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The Cook’s Station’s Colacioppo: Giving Back Yields Big Results

Gourmet store owners are continuing to find ways to bring in new customers while enticing regular customers to return. One of the ways retailers are appealing to younger generations while creating an experience to be had in the store is by bringing in goods that give back. These products — either from a local merchant or large manufacturer — are those that give back to causes.

According to Kelly Colacioppo, owner of Greenville, SC-based The Cook’s Station, bringing in these types of products has been beneficial to her business, pulling consumers back to her store instead of online. And, she said, it allows her and the store’s staff to interact with potential buyers right from the start.

“We are finding that the younger consumers liked to be talked to and this allows us to be able to share a story with them right from the beginning,” she said.

However, when beginning to put together a program that includes products such as these, there are some best practices that Colacioppo discovered as she continues to move forward.

Finding Products

Not only are you going to want to make sure that the products you choose to bring in fit into the store’s assortment, but you are going to want to make sure that these goods are also giving back to legitimate causes. Colacioppo said that once she realized this was important to her consumers, she began doing research online and at markets to find the right goods.

“There is really a focus on this in the market right now, so I just started reading about different companies online. For a lot of the newer, up-and-coming companies, it’s one of the first things they put out there,” she said.

Additionally, while doing research, Colacioppo realized that she already carried a few items that could be leveraged without having to make an investment in a new line or vendor.

“Just ask your vendors because a lot of them do things like this already. I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t ask,” she added.

Point Them Out

Colacioppo noted that when it comes to charitable products, proper marketing is key. She said she features the goods on a table in the store — which enables her to rotate them out to freshen up merchandising — and displays key information about the product and the cause tie-in.

“Some of the manufacturers have really great signage and if they do, we use those. If not, we make our own signage and put it in a frame in order to call attention to it,” she said.

Use Their Stories

Customers can sometimes be hard to read when it comes to the amount of assistance and attention they would like. However, Colacioppo said that by using the stories behind charitable products, it is an instant conversation starter.

“It gives us a good reason to go over and start talking to the customer,” she said. “These are products that come with their own stories and once we start telling the customer about it, all of a sudden they become engaged with us,” she said.

Overall, she noted, this tactic has been beneficial to The Cook’s Station’s sales as well as its customer service.

“This is like the next level because when they leave the store with their product, they can feel like they are really doing something good,” she said.

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