It all started around the table.
Karmin Billadeau had been working in the housewares industry for a number of years. A housewares buyer at the time, she knew it was time to make a change in her professional life, but just wasn’t sure what that change would look like.
“[The store] really started as a lot of conversations that were held around my table with family and friends. It was their push and their encouragement that really made me think about going out on my own and opening up the store,” Billadeau said.
Aptly named Karmin’s Kitchen Table, the Bismarck, ND-based housewares store opened its doors on April 1, 2016. Using her buying background, Billadeau set out to ensure that the products in her store felt handpicked for each and every customer, not just something that they could pick up at any retail outlet or online. And she set out on creating the destination to match.
“I knew I wanted the store to have a warm feeling. I used ideas from Pinterest and repurposed furniture for fixtures. For example, our knife cabinet is an old gun case and the table my mom used to use as a child has some spices on it. The neat thing is that I have an old picture of her sitting next to it that hangs on the wall. It is a great way to start a conversation with customers,” said Billadeau. “We want our customers to feel comfortable and relaxed, like they are walking into their own home or into their own kitchen.” Now into its third year in business, the store has grown into something special for its customers and the gourmet industry alike.
Through the last three years, Billadeau said that putting the focus on some of the most tried and true business practices has actually been the key to her growth. One of these has been making appearances on her local news station every month.
“It’s live television, which is so fun. We get about 10 minutes to talk about new gadgets, what’s going on in the store, different classes we are having and some new products we brought in. They have been a great resource for us,” said Billadeau.
While Billadeau has been working hard to get the word out about the store and all it offers, it is her constant drive to give back to the community that has really pushed her business forward. Through her efforts, she has made Karmin’s Kitchen Table into a community center and, for some, even an extension of her own table.
“In 2017, we started offering ‘Cooking with the Community’ classes. We invited a local ‘celebrity’ from the community to cook their favorite recipe. For $10, the public could join us for the evening to see how the dish is prepared, take home the recipe and sample the dish. All ticket sale proceeds are then donated to the chef’s charity of choice,” she said.
That program helped the store donate more than $2,000 to local charities during its run, she said. And that’s not all. Many of her events and practices are focused on giving back to the community, including giving back to breast cancer awareness programs and helping to fight poverty in her own neighborhood.
For more on how Billadeau and Karmin’s Kitchen Table uses charity and other tactics to grow the business, check out the March/April edition of Gourmet Insider.