When Susan O’Brien opened The Kitchen Table, her Sacramento, CA-based gourmet kitchenware shop, in November 2017, she knew stocking local goods was going to be part of her merchandise assortment. After all, locally sourced goods, such as a nearby artisan’s line of homemade barbecue sauce or handcarved wood bowls, are unique finds that can set a retailer apart from what can be purchased at a nearby big-box store.
However, as a new shop owner, just how to go about sourcing those local goods was a bit of a mystery to O’Brien. There is always a bit of risk when bringing anything new into the shop, she explained, but when it comes to local finds, it can be more of a struggle.
After nearly a year in business, O’Brien has found success with certain goods – locally made jams and tea towels top the list – and a few that just didn’t make the cut. But during that time, she found a few best practices that have served her well. Here, O’Brien shares three of her top tips:
Stock Your Favorite Goods
Look for quality products that you, as the store owner, are a fan of. “It’s definitely easier to sell someone a $10 jar of jam when you love it and can talk about how delicious it is. It also helps if they can taste it, especially if the flavor is unique or unusual,” she said.
Chat Up Customers
When seeking inspiration on what goods to bring in, O’Brien suggests listening to what customers are excited about. “One customer told me about a local marshmallow maker that I have not even heard of before and how she loves to gift these artisan marshmallows over the holidays. So now I’m hunting down these marshmallow makers because she couldn’t remember their name,” she said.
Try A Pop-Up Shop
“If you are not sure about the product or don’t know if you want to carry it in your store long-term, consider holding a pop-up with the maker,” she suggested. “I just clear out a space for them to set up and see how the product does with my customers.” Plus, she said, you can both share the event with each other’s social media followers to spread the word about the product and the store.