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EP 132: Shoetopia in Mount Forest, ON, Canada

Shoetopia in Mount Forest, ON, Canada
Episode #: 132
EP 132: Shoetopia in Mount Forest, ON, Canada

Guest: Peter Mohr
Topics: Shoetopia, entrepreneurship


Chris Ressa 0:06
This is retail retold the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris ReSSA. And I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC management. Welcome to retail retold everyone. Today I am joined by Peter Moore. Peter is the owner of shoe topia, they have two locations in Ontario, Canada. He’s also the owner of simplifying entrepreneurship. I’m excited to be joined by him today. Welcome to the show, Peter.

Peter Mohr 0:43
Hey, thanks so much for having me, Chris. Really appreciate it. And I’m glad to be here.

Ressa 0:47
Excellent. Peter, tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do.

Mohr 0:52
Well, Chris, I’ve been a lifelong entrepreneur and always have done it since I was basically I’ve only ever worked for somebody for about six months of my entire adult life. I’ve always been an entrepreneur was before going to university and have been pretty much afterwards. And what I’m doing these days is I’ve got a couple of shoe stores, as you mentioned, for the last 11 years, since 2010, we’ve had shoe topia, and we’ve added a couple of stores and one has now is no longer and two of them still last. So we are standing with two stores right now. So I that’s the main state. That’s sort of my main business these days. I’ve had other businesses along the way and still have other businesses around though that one, and one of them is called simplifying entrepreneurship. And with that, when I help entrepreneurs, I say transform their worries and wants into wins, you know, work through cutting through the chaos and the frustrations and using frameworks and systems that basically enables them to live the life they want as a business owner. So I work at the shoe stores, but I also am involved a lot these days with entrepreneurs and helping them with their businesses. So lots of stuff on the go always Chris.

Ressa 2:01
Excellent. You mentioned 2010 So you got into the pure retail business in 2010.

Mohr 2:07
I did you do before that. Before that I had service businesses so very different. I know we talked a little bit about before we hopped on air, we’ve talked about the difference between service and retail and with service. I had a couple of businesses and I usually run a couple of businesses at the same time. So one of them was a bathtub refinishing business and we did bathtub refinishing kitchen refacing all sorts of things. We sprayed appliances, you know changing things from harvest gold to white, and you know, changing oak cabinets to bright white and all of that sort of stuff and countertops. So did a lot of that sort of stuff. I did that since 1994. We bought the franchise, and then I sold it in 2009 I guess it’s still going today going strong still that business and along with that I ran another business and we had a cleaning business called Sani service. It was also a franchise at the time. And with that we bought the business who was struggling and had 30 clients when we bought it and when we sold it in 2009. It had 300 So a lot we worked for a lot of retailers with that business. Chris we did a ton of retail we did IKEA stores, we did staples business depot’s, we did a lot of different sorts of restaurants as well. So a lot of service type businesses. So that’s, you know, I was around retail a lot. I’ve always been sort of loving that. And then I worked as a business broker too. And that’s how I got into retail. So I was a business broker, a licensed Realtor, basically helping people buy and sell businesses. And

Ressa 3:36
that’s a good background on who you are and what you’re doing. Yeah. And your whole career has been in Canada,

Mohr 3:43
it has, you know, I’ve always been in Canada spent the first sort of 40 years of my life in the Ottawa area, and my businesses were in the Ottawa area, which is our nation’s capital, and then six or back in 2010. So 11 years ago, we made the move down to We’re about an hour outside of Toronto right now. So about five, six hours away from the Ottawa areas, but always been in Ontario as far as my businesses

Ressa 4:07
go. Excellent. Okay. Yeah. Well, typically what we do next is we go to this part of the show called Clear the air. I’ve got three questions for you. Are you ready? I’m ready. All right. Question one. What is one skill you don’t possess, but wish you did?

Mohr 4:25
Well, I’ve given this one a little thought now that I know that you were going to ask it or I assumed you were and I think the big thing for me when I look at it as as I was sort of contemplating this is that I wish I had the ability to do more electrical work. Hmm. So that might sound weird, but it’s one of the things that I’ve just never been totally comfortable with. I’m I’m fairly handy. I can do some plumbing I could do. But I’ve just never really grasped the whole electrical side of things. And it’s never been a big thing. In fact, quite often just kind of gives me a little bit of a scare and there’s always stuff around the store to be done. You know, you gotta hang a light, you got to do some stuff. You know, there’s a fan, there’s some some odds and sods that come up that are electrically oriented. And I always I mean, I’ll get in there and do it sometimes. But ultimately, it’s not something I’m super comfortable with. So I would just wish I was more oriented that way, I think for all those little tasks around the house and around the stores.

Ressa 5:22
I liked that one. Haven’t had that answer before, but I like it. Cool. All right. Question two. When is the last time you tried something for the first time?

Mohr 5:31
Pretty much every day, Chris. I am a change agent. You know, if you look at, if you ever kind of look at any of those personality profiles and stuff like that mine oozes change agent. So I’m always trying different things. I’ve traveled different routes in my truck to get to the same place. Just I go different places, I try different foods. So pretty much every single day, I’m trying something new. Sometimes, you know, putting it back to the retail stores. Maybe it’s a different angle on marketing or whatever the case yesterday, I was riding my bike and I did a Instagram Live from my bike as I was traveling down my bike for our shoe store. And my wife who does most of our social was like, what was that? Anyway, I said, Hey, it’s just something a little bit different. Right? So yeah, I try new stuff all the time.

Ressa 6:20
Very cool. Okay. Last question. Yeah, it’s a doozy. Okay. What is one thing most people agree with? But you do not

Mohr 6:29
one thing most people agree with that? I do not? Well. I think for me, when I look at, at this framework, it’s it’s kind of an interesting question. But, you know, I think a lot of people are yea Sayers. And typically, I’m not a naysayer, I’m okay with saying no. And a lot of people just have this because they don’t want to disrupt or they don’t want to cause friction, or any of that sort of stuff. My feeling is that, and I’m not saying that I never bypass the No, sometimes I do. But ultimately, I’m a little more okay, I think was saying No, a little more candid about the fact that it’s okay to say no to stuff as opposed to always just sort of appeasing and appealing to those people to try and, you know, not hurt feelings and things like that. Because I think ultimately, a lot of people feel that, if you’re just upfront about things that they appreciate that. So that’s sort of maybe a little different take on what you normally what you normally get here, but that’s sort of something that I was thinking about a little bit.

Ressa 7:32
I like it, I think saying no, is a skill. So I’m with you there. Yeah. When we were offline, though, you had mentioned something when we were talking about a skill you don’t possess, but wish you did. Yeah. We’re talking about patience a little bit. We were. And I find it an interesting one. Because I actually hear this a lot from a lot of entrepreneurs, which is they had more patience. However, what I often remind them is a lack of patience is one of the keys to their success, most likely, because entrepreneurs don’t wait around for things to happen. They go make them happen. They’re not sitting back and waiting. They’re very decisive. They move on to the next. And they don’t really take this well, let’s see what happens wait and see approach that’s not in the entrepreneurial DNA, they go make it happen. And but I find it funny because I do talk to many entrepreneurs, and many of them wish they had more patients. I think that comes from as they’re dealing with getting into management of people and they’re growing their business. They hear a lot that they don’t have patience, and there’s this negative connotation with it. Yet, I think it’s important to call out that this mentality where they don’t sit around and wait and they move quickly. And they make and they don’t dot every I and cross every T. But they keep moving along. And that’s where progress happens is an important thing to consider. So I wanted to bring that back up since we were talking about that offline, because you had mentioned patients and actually get a lot of entrepreneurs.

Mohr 9:06
Yeah, I mean, I didn’t want to bring it back up. Because you said you had talked about it a few times on the podcast. But But yeah, I mean, we could talk all the time, a long time about patience. And it’s something that over the years, I’ve wished I’ve had more of, for sure. And I think as we I’ve been in business a long time now, Chris, different businesses, but been in business a long time, all my life. And from that perspective, I look back at some of the stuff and there are definitely times where I said, you know, I should have been more patient here or I should have been more patient there and things would have gotten better. But yeah, I agree with you. I mean, I wouldn’t be where I am today if if I wasn’t able to pull the trigger to make things happen to and, you know, I can make a decision and just like that, but there are a few of them along the way where it’s like cheese, you know, I just should have had a little more patience there.

Ressa 9:51
Yeah, I hear you. I want to bring us to the story, which is one of my favorite parts of the show and I think this is an exciting one because you didn’t come from a retail background. And you just decided to buy a retail business and then not only buy it but grow it. Yep. So what town and, and province are we going into in Canada? So

Mohr 10:13
I started in Fergus, Ontario. And then we opened, we bought another business in Waterloo. And then we opened another one in Mount forest. So all three sort of in the southwestern area of Ontario.

Ressa 10:24
So but this one specifically is Mount forest, Ontario, Canada. Why don’t you bring us to mount forest and tell us how that how that Utopia ended up there?

Mohr 10:34
Yeah, we’ll do. So we started in Fergus, as I mentioned, that’s the story I actually bought, I didn’t start utopia, I bought an existing store that was running and, you know, well run by the previous owners, and they were retiring. So that’s kind of how I got into it. We bought another one in Waterloo that we’ll talk about maybe a bit later. But mount forest and Fergus stores are small town stores. And from that perspective, you know, we had so many customers and clients coming down from North like, there’s a sort of a main road that runs up north from Fergus through mount forest up to the northern parts of southwestern Ontario. And so there’s a lot of people that travel that road, they go up and down, they go to the cottage, they’re back down to Hamilton and Toronto, and then they go to the cottage, they go to see the parents and back up and down. And all of these people that were traveling up and down, would often stop at shoe topia Fergus, and they were like, Man, I wish you guys had a store up north, I wish you guys had a store up north. And I mean, you’re in that, you know, setting up all that stuff with all the properties that you guys have. And you probably hear this a lot. But, but basically, we were getting the call from our client base to go up north. And then we started, you know, this was early on. So we started getting had a point of sale system, and we’re starting to collect some postal codes and things like that. And like, you know, wow, we really do have a lot of clients from up in that area. So we started fishing around looking for spots and things like that, I looked at two or three different towns and, and then what I did was, I solicited my vendors, and I asked, as with most businesses in footwear, and probably in a lot of lot of the retail that you deal with Chris and the people listening to the show, you probably have five or six, what I call key vendors. And those key vendors probably generate, you know, 75 80% of your business. And from that perspective, I called in, I think it was around eight or 10 of my vendors one day, and I asked him to come in for a lunch and I hosted them in a boardroom basically. And these are all vendors of my my key brands, essentially pulling them together. And then I prepared slide decks and stuff like that on the three or four different locations that I was looking at. And what I was looking for is I was looking for their opinion on where their brands needed help and where I, they thought I could be best positioned. They know my stores, they knew about utopia, they know about how we operate, and they know about their brands. And so it was a little uncomfortable for them. I think at the very beginning when they’re like, Well, what do you mean, you want us all to come together and stuff like that. And it’s like, Hey, listen, I just want to get a group of people around, I’m a collaborative kind of person want to get a group of people around the table. So we can hash this out as to where it would be best for your brand to go, where you need presence and where I can accommodate that as a store that has these different brands within it. So that was sort of an interesting conversation. And obviously, the brands are out for themselves, and they want to do what they need to do. But in footwear, it’s a pretty small. It’s a pretty small community. I mean, I know most of my independent retailers that are around me, so we didn’t want to step on any toes and things like that. But at the same time, we wanted to open another store and get rolling. So that was sort of how we did it. And then we landed, kind of on the top one or two. And then of course, I made the choice to go to Mount forest. And then we opened the store in Mount forest. And it’s just been that was six years ago, we celebrated our sixth anniversary during our third COVID closure of the last year and a half we were closed for a grand total of about 20 weeks here in Ontario. So it’s been a bit hot bit of a haul we celebrated our 20th anniversary even though I’ve only been there 10 in Fergus and our sixth anniversary in Mount forest during COVID. So we couldn’t do any sort of anniversary bashes or anything like that, but at the same time, it’s been it’s been a good ride. I love being a retailer.

Ressa 14:22
Wow, that is a good ride. I want to unpack that a little bit from the beginning. Yeah, sure. So I think the first thing you’ve been a buyer of businesses before and you’ve done both where you bought steady Eddy cashflow businesses, and then you bought the value add fixer upper businesses I have. Right so you’ve done both worlds. First question, which one do you like more?

Mohr 14:46
I like the ones where it’s the cash flow is already there. I mean, come on, let’s be let’s be real.

Ressa 14:54
Well, some people like to like save something and

Mohr 14:57
Yeah, but why would you not want to walk into We’re proving cashflow.

Ressa 15:01
Well maybe you get a steal, I’m sure. And that was, and when we talked the fixer upper was the cleaning business. Right? That’s right. Rewarding to take from like nothing to 300 clients. Right, right.

Mohr 15:13
So we 10 times the client base. I mean, yeah, and I did get a great deal on it. But it was a lot of work. Yeah. So I mean, there’s trade offs, right. And I think it depends on what season of life you’re in, if you’re willing to put in the time if you’re willing, and if and whether or not you have the money in order to do I mean, there’s those trade offs time versus money, right. And I think those ones that, I mean, we started now for us from scratch that was a brand new girl that wasn’t a bot store. I mean, it was a brand new bill. But from those other ones, yeah, refinishing business, I started from scratch. It was a franchise, but I mean, it was me building it and starting it, so I got trained by them. But outside of that, it was all me. And the cleaning business had 30 clients, which was, you know, not very much. And then we built that one up. And then going into shoe topia, the first store, it was one of the better independent retail stores in Ontario, for footwear, I mean, it’s a good store. And so I went in there saying, alright, you know, it’s a good store, and we can build upon that it didn’t have a webstore didn’t, you know, there was a few things that we could do. But we are in a small community. And from that perspective, there’s only so many pairs that are going to quote in a small community as well, like from a retail storefront perspective. And we were sort of doing pretty good with that, you know, and from that perspective, it was just nice to come in there. And that what that did that cash flow allowed me to look at those other opportunities, right. So and I already had the systems in place, like, Yes, we had to, to tweak some systems when I took over like they used a cash register, they didn’t use a point of sale system, they, they literally used Ledger’s and stuff like that no computerized stuff. So I mean, we made the changes that we need to make in order to systematize and use some frameworks that are going to allow us to grow to two and three stores. So from that perspective, that’s kind of how it went. Chris

Ressa 16:59
got it makes less sense. Yeah. And when you bought shoe topia, were you looking for a shoe store, a retail store, or just a cash flowing business? What What were you looking for

Mohr 17:12
that time? Well tell you a little backstory now, I guess. So. So I was working as a business broker helping people buy and sell businesses, and I was living in Ottawa at the time. And I, you know, it’s just like you do with your clients, somebody says, I need 10,000 square feet, it’s got to be laid out in this sort of way. And that sort of stuff, you know, when you’re working with your clients, trying to fit them up with retail space, I did the same as as a realtor, you know, and a business broker. So this person had so much money to spend, they wanted to make so much money, they had a couple of different ideas, what they wanted to do for business. So I’m laying it all out, and I did my homework, you know, I’ve got all the numbers I got. And selling a business is a big package, you know, it’s like, it’s not just here’s the house, take a walk through, it’s, you know, there’s a lot of work in behind it. So I’ve done a lot of work and presented it to them, and everything lined up, except the one thing, it was five and a half hours away, and in a little small town, and he was a city guy, and he’s like, there’s no way I’m gonna get my wife and family moved some little town in southwestern Ontario. So I basically said, You know what we will, because it added up, and we were small town people, and at that time, I had exited those, those other two businesses we talked about. And I was working as a realtor, but looking sort of for other things. And it was this is the sort of that depression time of 2008 2009 2010. It’s like, I’m not really sure what I’m gonna get into. And this is just a really good business that survived that really quite easily and did well. And I’m like, Hmm, this sounds interesting. So we came up, I took a drive around, drove the five hours one day, when in the store, this is in the middle of January, when in the store, you know, not much happening, but bought a pair of shoes, drove around the town. It was only the second time I’ve driven through that town before, but never have been there. And so I drove around the town a little bit, looked around, went back home the same day and talked to my wife that night. And I said, you know, I think this is good. And she said, Well, let’s go. So we hopped in the car again the next day. And we drove up again, five, five and a half hours, and she bought a pair of boots and we drove around the town and kind of said, Hey, can we see our picture our family and everything living in this town? And we said, Yeah, so the next day we put a bid in on it. And that was in January, and I took over in April. I moved up, lived in a bed and breakfast for three months. While my family was you know, we had three small kids while they were finishing school. We wanted to make sure they finished their school year until the end of June where we lived. And then they followed in behind at the first of July and we’ve been here since so that’s kind of how it happened.

Ressa 19:41
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Mohr 21:48
Well, for me, my brands are my retail partners. And there are a few that I questioned sometimes I have to admit, and actually one or two of my big ones I questioned sometimes, but for the most part, I really look at my brands as trusted partners in my business. So I go to them when I need certain things. They and I expect them to come to me if they have questions, you know, if they have issues around their brand and the representation that we’re doing for them within the brick and mortar stores that we have. So, you know, I think that flow of information back and forth is very good. It’s healthy. It shows a respect and a trust both ways. So that when you do need something you can ask them. And that’s what we did. You know, I asked them and it just wanted to be sort of upfront say, Hey, listen, I’m thinking about going here, here and here. What do you guys think? And do you think it’s going to be good for your brand? And do you think I have a good opportunity here? They are on the road all the time. I mean, at least pre COVID they were, but they’re always out traveling around to the different stores or going to different markets. They’re doing product knowledge sessions with the different people and all this other stuff and showing their wares. And it’s like, a lot of them have been in the industry for a really long time too. And they know where maybe in the past 10 years ago, somebody did really well, but they retired and closed the store or something like that. And the markets been left untouched, really. So a lot of those kinds of things. You can just pull up so much great information, if you are open about stuff. And I think that’s a big thing just being open about it.

Ressa 23:17
Yeah, one of the things I liked that you touched on was the brands know where their customers are and where people are loyal to them. So they could give you insights in like, Yes, this is a Merrill customer, this is a Birkenstock customer, we’re short market share here. And we were selling a lot here. I don’t know that we have any more market penetration. And that was interesting insights, I thought to help you decide on which market was the right market for you.

Mohr 23:45
It was really good. And, you know, I did the same sort of thing on my client base do I mean one of the things we have a fairly substantial email list. So I sent out an email list and to my email list and I said, you know, if we were to open another store, what do you guys think? So I solicited our clients advice, and I left a bunch of open areas so that they could tell me what they wanted in the new store and all that sort of stuff. And we got some great feedback there too. So always looking for good feedback for

Ressa 24:12
sure. Excellent. I probably should have started with this but tell us a little bit more about Utopia what type of shoe store is this?

Mohr 24:19
While she topia really is a comfort to store to be like you said we sell Meryl we sell Kean we sell new balance we sell Birkenstocks and Bloodstones. Essentially, we’re Canadian. So we do have the two stores we have a webstore. So we only ship in Canada, we don’t ship down to the States because of duties and brokerage and all that sort of stuff. But I like to say our sort of our slogan behind the cash register is that says we want to help our customers look great and feel fantastic. And if I can do that with every sort of sale or my team can do that, then that’s really awesome. And I kind of narrow it down Chris to nine letters. And those nine letters are UAW and Aha. And if I can get the person looking in the mirror, when they try that shoe on, and they look in the mirror, and they’re going, Oh, I look pretty good. You know, it’s like, yeah, those are cool. And if I can get them standing there and kind of closing their eyes, and they’re going, those feel great, then that’s awesome. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s we’re trying to deliver. And then the next one is the AHA. And the AHA is really, I can’t believe it, I’ve actually found a shoe that looks good, and feels good. Most people say, if I have a shoe that looks good, it’s never going to feel good. And if I have a shoe that feels good, it’s probably not going to look good, while we’re trying to deliver that package. So if I can put that package all together, and those nine letters of ooh, ah, and, uh huh, then I think we’ve done our job. And as they walk out to the car, you know, I want them to look back at the store, because we’re an open air mall, just like I know, a lot of your properties are an open air malls as well. So when they’re walking out, I kind of want them to look back and look up at utopians. Say, You know what, that’s my favorite shoe store. And if we can deliver that kind of experience to our customers, and I think we’ve done the job.

Ressa 26:08
That’s great. I love that nine letters. Yeah. And aha, that’s it. Excellent.

Mohr 26:15
Simplify it. That’s the whole idea. Right? Simplify it simplifying entrepreneurship, that’s, you got to try and simplify these little, these little packages down so that you can explain them.

Ressa 26:24
So we went through how you got the business went through how you opened the mapforce location, went through a little bit about what utopia is, walk me through how was 20 weeks closed is tough. How’s this last 18 months been? Man?

Mohr 26:37
It’s been tough. You know, it’s been tough. And, you know, we’ve had three separate closures, sort of between six and eight weeks each time and spread out, you know, we’re open for two months closed for two months open for two months, closed for six weeks. So these kinds of things, every time you rehire your team, then you’re letting them go again, you know, this kind of stuff, it’s just been a conundrum is probably a good word. And from that perspective, it’s it’s been trying at times, but you know, what, we’ve come out stronger on the back end of things. And if we can continue to stay open some of the systems and processes and things that we’ve put in place, Chris, you know, we just had our quarterly manager meeting a week or so ago. And it’s like talking to my management team. We are stronger now than we were before. And I think that’s a really, I give that really to my management team and saying, we’ve come up with some really awesome systems, we’ve made some changes that I think are going to be long lasting, and to the benefit of not only our internal team, but to our customers, and our client base. So just a lot of really good things. So I’m excited about what’s what’s ahead. And I’m one of those people that it’s like the past is the past. We weren’t close, we’re not close anymore. So let’s take it now and move ahead. That’s kind of how I look at things surprising. We can stay open. I think we’re in a good position to move, move that ball forward.

Ressa 27:54
Good luck on that. I hope so too. I think so. Thanks. And thanks, man. Yeah, good luck. You mentioned you made some changes. What are some of the changes you made to the store business?

Mohr 28:03
Well, one of the big ones was, you know, especially during our closing times, was the focus on our webstore. We’ve never really we’ve had a webstore for years and years. And it’s always just been a sort of what I consider a live flier so people would sit at home sitting on their couch watching, you know, the latest episode of, of whatever their favorite sitcom is, flipping through the shoe topia shoe, and seeing what’s new, what new books came in that sort of stuff and saying, ultimately, shoes are still a try on type thing most people really want to try them on. It’s a fitting thing for a lot of people there. Yes, do people buy online? Sure we sell online all the time. But they’re still it, especially with our type of stuff. Because like I said, ours is a comfort based store. People want to get in and feel that comfort, they want to feel it on their foot, because it’s going to be their everyday shoe. So when we you know, it’s the kind of shoes that we sell aren’t six inch stilettos for the party. They’re the New Balance shoes that sit at your back door every day when you’re gonna go to walk the dog or they’re the they’re the slippers, you know, I’m wearing a pair of Mephisto sandals in my house right now. And we’re having this interview. It’s like, it’s the sandal that you’re going to wear every day that Birkenstock or that Keane or whatever the case is. So from that perspective, we really spent a lot of time understanding our webstore. We we’ve had Shopify as our webstore provider now for the last couple of years. And they changed the way they do their stuff with their point of sale system. So we actually got rid of our previous point of sale system and move to Shopify. So now everything’s housed within the one and we did that during one of our closures. We had planned on doing that sort of next January in our slow time, but because we were closed, we bumped that ahead, much to the chagrin of my of Brock who works with me doing all that stuff. He’s like, Are you kidding me? We’re gonna do this now. But after it’s been done, it’s really helped us in our processes. It’s eliminated a lot of duplication. It’s made our shipping pro process is easier. It’s made our transfer processes easier between the stores. So it’s really helped us a lot, a lot of the time, you know, so that technology end of things has really benefited during this period of time. I think we’ve worked on a bunch of different things like that, just to make our offering better to our customers, our clients, you know, changed around the stores, done some different things to make it look new for them,

Ressa 30:25
keep progressing forward, and good things happen. So yeah, for sure. So now you have three stores, you have Fergus, Mount forest and the web. Yeah. How big is the web gotten compared to the other two stores.

Mohr 30:38
So right now, the web is probably around 10% of our business, and prior to COVID, it would be less than 1%. So just to put it in perspective, we’re local stores, Chris, I mean, we talked about this before, we’re really community oriented, we’re really involved in the two towns that we work in and live in. And, you know, we were helping the charities to build the wing on the on the hospital, we’re helping the hockey teams. And we’re involved, we sent out $20 gift certificates to all of the teachers that were going through all this COVID $20 gift certificates to all of the hospital workers and health care workers. And we sent $20 gift certificates even across the store to all the people when everything was closed, except for the grocery stores. All those grocery stores were being run ragged. So we sent $20 gift certificates to the entire grocery store across the street from us and said, Hey, listen, guys, if you need a new pair of shoes, or whatever the case is, we’re here to help you. We weren’t open, they couldn’t come in and try them on. But we were open curbside, and on online and all that sort of stuff. We always want to be helping our community and working with our community. So from that perspective, when we were close to take it back to the webstore, you know, most people that shop web stores are really just looking for a specific product at the cheapest price. And I get that I totally understand it. But when we were closed our local clients shopped on our Web Store, because they wanted to do business locally. And I love that about being a small town retailer. It’s just it’s a really good feeling. You know, we see Yeah, sure, where we sit shipping stuff out west, you know, to British Columbia or east to to Nova Scotia, or even down to Toronto an hour away or to Ottawa five hours away. Sure we were. But 80% of the business during our closures that was done online was our existing clientele that wanted to support us knowing that we were closed and knowing that we had what they needed. So that was just a really awesome feeling. So since we’ve been reopened here in the last couple of months, our webstore businesses come back down a little bit because they’re able to come in the store, but we’re still doing all that other stuff across Canada as well. And that’s growing way more than what it was pre COVID. So that’s another big piece of of the pie that we never had prior to COVID.

Ressa 32:50
That’s excellent. The power of community, especially for local businesses, is almost unquantifiable. It’s so massive. So one last thing that we didn’t talk about that I’m curious about the shoe business today, how’s getting product, we keep hearing the supply chain logistics as I was getting product for you? Well,

Mohr 33:09
there’s one word dreadful. It’s a real problem. I mean, it’s not only a problem for footwear, it’s a problem for the bike shop down the road, it’s a problem for the I mean, take a look at your local auto dealership, the parking lots are empty, right? They can’t get product. So it’s affects us all it affects the plumbing store, it affects the it affects every retailer. So what are we doing we’re chasing, we’re chasing as much as we can. I mean, I just finished my last trade show of the year. Here we are August 31. And we’re recording this. And my last trade show was this past weekend. And that’s for next spring and summer. So we order our stuff, you know, six, eight months in advance. And the stuff that ordered six, eight months in advance prior to get this fall, are all most of that stuff’s already two to three months late. Well, if I get my fall shoes and boots in December, when the snow is flying, I’m never going to sell any of them. And if I don’t get my winter boots until next March, I’m never going to sell any of them. So it’s a real problem. Because I mean, sure I can hold on to them for another year and your bank, roll them for a year and you put them in storage and all this other stuff and bring them out the following year. You have to buy them the following year. But how do you make your numbers now? I mean, you’re a landlord, we have to pay our rent, we have to pay our team, we have to pay our expenses along the way. And if you don’t have the product to sell, then it’s pretty hard to make those nuts. And I mean part of what I do with simplifying entrepreneurship, and we talked about this a little bit too is the four P’s, you have to have the right product, the right process the right people, so you can make the right profit. But if you don’t have the right product, you can’t actually get the product, the rest of the stuff in behind it’s pretty hard because you don’t have the cash flow. So it’s a big concern. It’s a big concern and we’re doing our best to chase whatever we can chase it’s in stock right now so that we’ll have something to sell. And yes brands are I mean, it’s not like everybody’s not shipping for three months but a lot of this course what a lot of consider my core stuff If is going to be late, and it’s not only gonna be late for me, it’s going to be late for everybody, which, in a way for me doesn’t make it sound like I did a poor job of of buying, you know, our team did a poor job buying because they won’t be able to find it anywhere. It’s not going to be available, but at the same time, you know, it that doesn’t help you still need to make your numbers.

Ressa 35:17
All that said. Yeah. Still gonna be better than being closed? Right?

Mohr 35:21
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It’s Anything’s better than being closed. Will you be ahead of 19? No, we won’t be ahead of 19. We were closed until basically the end of May, we had our best ever June, we had our best ever July. Because there was so much pent up demand for having been closed for April in May. That was great. August is slowed off a little bit. But based on what we’re seeing, as far as the futures of what stock we’re going to be able to get in over the next three months, I can’t see how we possibly have our best ever or even get to 19 numbers, because I just don’t think we’re gonna have the stock to do it. Okay, yeah, if we had the stock, I think we’d be there because there’s there’s pent up demand because we were closed last fall, too. So there’s pent up demand for all the fall stuff. I just don’t think we’re actually going to have enough to make those numbers come to reality.

Ressa 36:07
Right. Okay. Well, listen, overall, a good story. You made it through the recession made COVID. Yep. You have a second location, you’ve made some good process changes, some tech changes. You got your customers back, you grew your online store. Good story overall. Really? Thanks, man. Yeah, I know you have this other business, simplifying entrepreneurship. I do anything you want to add on that front?

Mohr 36:35
Well, like I said, you know, I think from that side of things, with simplifying entrepreneurship, I just love I love talking business. I love having this conversation we’re having today, Chris. And you know, I love getting into the nuts and bolts of stuff. And that’s why I sort of was a business broker for a while helping people out with that sort of thing, too. But what I do there is I really, you know, starting off I had mentioned, we help transform their worries in wants into wins. So transforming, you know, being an entrepreneur, being a business leader, being a business owner, sometimes overwhelming. It’s, you get in business, because you want to have a better life. And if all you’re doing is working 7080 hours a week just to grind it out, then that’s not actually giving you the better life. And that’s so when I work with most of the entrepreneurs that I work with, it’s about hey, what do you really want out of your life so that we can start turning your business into a system to deliver that to you. And that’s, again, getting through those, those four P’s that I that I mentioned a little bit earlier, having the right product, the right process, and that’s one that really stumbles a lot of entrepreneurs, the right people is a big one, probably the biggest having the right people and actually allowing them to have the accountabilities to move things. And what was that, Chris?

Ressa 37:50
I said, sure. Yeah, the people piece right now it’s Oh, my gosh,

Mohr 37:53
yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a problem. You know, it’s a problem here in Canada, it’s a problem. I know, in the States, I coach a lot of people in the states and talk to a lot of people in the States. And it’s a problem everywhere finding the right people. But when you do have the right people, it’s how are you treating them? Are they involved in the culture? Do they see advancement in your business? Do they? Are they part of the accountability team, do they, you know, they want to be a part of it. So you know, once you have the right product, the right process, the right people, then you can enjoy the right profit. And what profit does is it can buy you some time back, right? Because there’s four freedoms and Dan Sullivan, who’s whose was one of my coaches, and one of the greatest, in my opinion, entrepreneurial coaches out there, talks about four freedoms in life, the and the freedom of now, I might not remember them all, but definitely is the freedom of relationships. So once you’re at at that entre, you can choose who you want to be with, because you’re an entrepreneur, you can, you know, choose your relationships, both personally and professionally. You can choose your purpose, you can choose, like, you can choose that mission. And that’s one of the things around people to I think, Chris is, you know, with, they buy into your culture, and they buy into your mission, and they know your mission, and that you’re telling them the mission, that and they buy into that, then they’re going to want to rally around that and be part of that. And so many entrepreneurs don’t even tell their team, what their business is about. They just oh yeah, we sell shoes, or whatever, you know. So lots of different things around there. You want your time back. And there’s only so many hours in the day. Another great person that I love, as name is Dean Jackson. And he says there’s only 24 hours in a day, you can’t buy more, and you can’t use less 24 hours in the day, you can’t buy more and you can’t use less. But what Prophet will do is it will allow you to buy somebody else’s time so that you can give them the accountability so that you can free up some of yours. And I think that’s an interesting way to look at it because so many entrepreneurs are overrun, overworked, tired, frustrated, all this other stuff and you don’t necessarily have to be if you have these four things, these Four peas in right order. It allows you to take those worries and allows you to take the wants that you want to have out of your life and put them together and build that system. So that’s generally what I do with simplifying entrepreneurship is help people through that.

Ressa 40:13
Fantastic. Sounds great, man. Cool. I want to take us to the last part of the show called retail wisdom. All right, I got three questions for you ready? Yeah, man. All right, here we go. Question one. What extinct retailer, do you wish would come back from the dead?

Mohr 40:28
Well, I had a favorite retail store when I was young. And I grew up in Ottawa, and it was towers. And towers have gone a really long time. And it was taken over by Zellers. And then when target moved into Canada, for a very short period of time, they bought out all those other stores and moved into into this other store. So it’s, it’s, it’s a couple of iterations ago, and about 40 years ago, but I remember walking from my house in Ottawa up to the tower store, you know, I’d be able to get my hockey cards or get my, you know, bit of candy or bike up with my buddies. And it was in at the time, it was a mall, but really, the mall was towers and the grocery store, and, you know, the barber, and that was the whole mall, basically. But this tower store had, you know, it just had, it was sort of open and white and brighten kind of, I guess, like a small time, Walmart or whatever. But I remember walking through those aisles and going, Wow, would I ever like that. And this is so cool. And I tell I come home, and I’d be like to my mom, you know, I really want to get this I’m going to at the time I was working, I always worked and cut lawns, and all sorts of different stuff. And I’m like, I’m gonna save up for my first ghetto blaster. And you know, that was all at towers. And so that was, that was sort of my old retail one that I would have would have liked to. I mean, if I walk through it today, I’d probably be disappointed. But back then it was pretty exciting.

Ressa 41:48
That’s a great one. No one said that before. So I appreciate the answer. Cool. Question, too. Yeah. What is the last item over $20 You bought in a store? That’s absolutely steak

Mohr 41:57
and pellets for my Pellet Grill. So for me, I’m a big barbecue. We’re love the pellet grill and love to love to smoke stuff and all that sort of thing. So it was out the other day, bought a couple of bags of pellets and some nice steak to have for supper. So love that.

Ressa 42:13
Terrific. Last question. And now they’re not there anymore. But the question is, Peter, if you and I were shopping at Target, and I lost you, what I would I find doing?

Mohr 42:25
I’d probably be in hardware, I think Chris probably be looking at the power tools. And, you know, I mean as many power because I used to be in the trades and stuff like that I always have this, this sort of thing to walk around hardware stores, and you know, all sorts of things. And it’s like, Ah, look at that, I mean, got a 20 volt battery on that when I was doing that there were 12 volts and you had to charge them all the time. I’m looking for the upgrades. I want to see the hammer drills. I want to look at all those different things. So yeah, you’d find me in the hardware department for sure. Well,

Ressa 42:55
this is fantastic. I really appreciate it. That’s great answer. Thank you so much for coming on. And next time I’m in the Toronto area. I got to stop by the store. I’d love to have you I’d love to have you. Thank you so much.

Mohr 43:09
Make it a great day, Chris. You too. Bye bye.

Ressa 43:16
Thank you for listening to retail retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show. Please reach out to us at retail retold at DLC This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode

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