When first starting out, making a name for yourself is tough in any business, but can be especially difficult when you’re taking over a well-established brand. Such was the case with local residents, husband-and-wife Samantha and Doug Eibling and Samantha’s brother George Hamilton, who took over as owners of Goods for Cooks, an independent gourmet housewares store in Bloomington, IN, last year.
And while the Eiblings and Huntington worked closely with the previous owners during the transition to ensure a smooth change of ownership, Samantha Eibling said it has been their goal to not only maintain the Goods for Cooks brand, but also to push it forward for the next generations.
“As a university town, we are committed to progressing and growing, looking forward while preserving and honoring Bloomington’s past,” she explained. “Our priority has been to maintain the core mission of Goods for Cooks — to serve the community as a place for conversation around food, cooking and gathering. However, in addition to providing quality kitchenware at a variety of price points and a dedication to lines with the potential of becoming generational pieces, we are building up our selection of linens, locally made foods, and also others from around the world, as well as increasing our offerings in the tabletop and entertaining categories.”
With that said, Eibling has been spending a lot of time observing what their customers are cooking, how they are cooking, and why they are cooking it. By taking the time to learn about their customers, the Eiblings said it not only helps them shape the direction of merchandise to stock, but also, where they should be taking the business in the future, especially under the dark cloud of competition from online shopping.
“We are privileged to hear food stories of tradition, adventure, and yes the occasional calamity. This positions us for serving a customer in a different way [from online retailers]. While we will lose sales to the convenience and perhaps lower cost of online sellers, what we offer instead is service and knowledge. As we learn what a customer wishes to achieve, what the role of food or entertaining is in their lives, we can individualize service to their needs,” she explained.
This customer influence will also be reflected on the store’s new website, which the couple is rolling out as the store celebrates its 45th anniversary this year.
“Our website will mirror the mission of the shop in continuing the conversation around food and gathering. We feel food has the power to comfort and nourish. It can bring people together, open minds and bring the world closer to anyone willing to try a new spice or technique. The site will be used as an additional way for us to connect with our customer, adding value to their experience in our shop by offering tips, tricks, stories and recipes. It will also highlight our personal stories, and the services we offer such as events, gift wrap, custom baskets, gift registries, personal shopping, special ordering and knife sharpening,” she explained.
Eibling, who fondly remembers the store from her own childhood, is happy to celebrate the store’s past, while also bringing the brand to its future — one that hopefully, will have an impact on many culinary lovers for years to come.
“I remember shopping at the store as a little girl with my mother and still have several items purchased then including a rolling pin and cookie cutters. We are proud to celebrate the store’s longevity and those who were stewards of its success before us. [And now] we get to experience people’s food journeys, their growth and how their interests evolve over time,” she said.