By John Garvey
I’m pretty sure the feeling many adults get walking into The Cupboard is like the thrill children feel inside toy stores. The specialty retail store in downtown Fort Collins, CO offers eleven product categories for everything you could possibly need in a kitchen. While department stores may be struggling to compete with e-commerce, The Cupboard hasn’t skipped a beat.
If the kitchen is the heart of your home, as the expression goes, The Cupboard’s staff is like a team of cardiologists. Everyone on their team has a unique role and several are responsible for specific product categories—not just store management. Phoebe buys the store’s Japanese ceramic ware and cast iron accessories. Cherie’s in charge of coffee & tea accessories, Asian pottery and pepper mills. And so on.
To me, the mere thought of managing the store’s phenomenally diverse inventory is almost paralyzing. Not only are there hundreds of products within arm’s reach, but over a half dozen buyers are ordering separate product lines that compete for shelf space. Even so, store owner, Jim Hewitt, says buying and tracking merchandise has been manageable and even fun since onboarding NCR Counterpoint.
“The buyers love it. It really makes ordering efficient, and counting inventory more efficient. It’s been a lot easier to track. We can now place orders for a shorter amount of time because it used to take so long to do inventory by hand.”
Asked about his favorite thing about retail, Jim’s response is … pretty much everything:
“I think it’s the variety. You know, it really is fun to find new products, the right products that hopefully will enhance people’s lives or make them more fun or easy in the kitchen. Also the relationships with the customers that we have. We get to see customers come in on a weekly basis, often for coffee or just to walk around. Training staff as far as customer service and buying and ordering merchandise. It’s never a dull moment.”
What is fundamental to continue prospering as a brick and mortar retailer? Jim says it comes down to customer service, expertise and creating an experience.
You know, you can go online, you can research, you can buy a peeler, but you can’t come in and have an experience, sample coffee and learn about the products from knowledgeable staff.
Jim has been delighted to have had NCR Counterpoint the last couple years. RCS has provided a streamlined inventory management and point of sale platform, training and reliable support.
The Cupboard, first opened in 1972, is one of 70 family run businesses that RCS supports. That’s a point of pride for RCS, which is itself family-owned. As I was walking out the other day, the store rep was having an animated, friendly conversation behind the counter with a little boy. His mom, appraising the chocolate truffles nearby, shot her a smile. No wonder The Cupboard is practically a centerpiece of Fort Collins commerce.
Specialty brick and mortar retailers offer warmth and familiarity that makes them indispensable.