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Kitchen House Coffee in St. Louis, MO with David Rodgers

David Rodgers Headshot
Episode #: 094
Kitchen House Coffee in St. Louis, MO with David Rodgers

Guest: David Rodgers
Topics: Kitchen House Coffee, small business


Chris Ressa 0:01
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 David Rogers. David is the owner at kitchen House coffee. David has been in retail for over 30 years, the majority of his career has been working at larger retailers. And in 2014, David opened up his own coffee shop. Excited to be joined by David, welcome to the show.

David Rodgers 0:45
Thanks, Chris.

Ressa 0:47
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and your journey and your story. I think it’s a really cool one. I’m excited for the listeners to hear that.

Rodgers 0:54
Thanks. Well, I’m happy for the opportunity to be here. My name is David Rogers. And as Chris stated, I’ve been in retail for a while I was in retail for over 30 years. I started my career right after college. Actually, when I went to school, I wanted to be a banker. I want it to be finance and whatnot. And I went to work for a bank. But this was in the late 80s. And at that time, banks for being gobbled up one after the next and after a couple of near misses with being downsized, I finally got hit. And when I went to my recruiter, I said find me anything except the banking industry. And just by happenstance, I wound up working for Edison brothers, which is now defunct. But Edison brothers was back in the 80s was a major enclosed mall player they had you walk into an average mall, they had a good 1314 brands. So I went to work for Addison Bravo’s as an accounting clerk in the real estate department. And what my job was basically was reviewing invoices for lease compliance. And from that, that kind of led to other avenues in the real estate area, I got interested in the lease negotiation side from the compliance piece. And after trying unsuccessfully at Edison broad was to move into lease compliance and lease negotiation did not happen. I ended up moving to Nine West where I worked for five years and got my first taste of should I say lease negotiation. After five years at Nine West famous footwear came calling. And they were looking for someone to hit up their lease compliance area. And having been had done that I kind of did it with a little bit of trepidation thinking, that feels like going backwards, career wise. But it was an opportunity for me to lead my own team. So I took that, and I kind of took that job with a little bit of hesitancy because it was in Madison, Wisconsin, and I don’t like cold. So

moving someplace where it’s gonna be cold, six months of the year just did not really appeal to me. But famous footwear was owned by brown shoe company, which is now Polaris. And that’s based here in St. Louis. So I thought, well, maybe take that bet and find my way back home to St. Louis. And after five years in Madison, Wisconsin, my boss actually was promoted to SVP of corporate real estate that took him his focus off of famous footwear solely and put it over retail and corporate real estate, which included facilities.

He’s an everyday everything, and it was going to require him to move to St. Louis. So when he said he was moving, I said, Oh, I want to go back to St. Louis as well, because this whole Madison thing, I’ve been to six winters, and it’s killing me.

And he says, Well, your team’s gonna be here. So how you gonna do that? And I said, Well, your team is going to be here. How are you going to do that?

Right. Che and I said, plus, you’re going to need some support there. You walk into a big job, you know, so I kind of sold my way into coming back to St. Louis. And that’s what we say just opened up the whole avenue because I did kind of do his right hand man here. And so taking the scraps from his plate, opened up my world to corporate real estate allowed me to start negotiation, negotiating office leases for brown shoe and then Polaris and then when he left the company in 2013. I moved into that role as focusing primarily on the coop real estate portfolio and the facility for clerics. Wow. And then

Ressa 5:10
you left that to start your own venture. We’ll talk more about that in a little bit. And now you have this coffee house. It’s in St. Louis. How far away is it from where you live?

Rodgers 5:22
It’s literally a block and a half away. I went from having a 20 minute ride in my car to a two minute walk down the street to go to work. It’s awesome.

Ressa 5:33
Wow, that is great. Well, it’s been open for six years. 2020 was not an easy year for most entrepreneurs. Was it any different for you? Did you have to shut down?

Rodgers 5:45
We did. We sat down for two months, we had no choice the city shut everybody down in the middle of March. So from March 16, to may no, actually three months from March 16 to June 6, we were closed and having a closed unexpectedly. Needless to say, we had a bunch of perishables that we had to get creative with how do we get rid of this and a lot of it we gave to our employees, we started there. Because recognizing that in the service industry being closed for a number of months, they were going to be hit hard. And at the time, there was no stimulus yet. So we were just closing and doing our best to kind of help them stay on their feet. So all of the purchases that perishables that we had we gave to staff, coffee products, like we five pound bags of coffee that you could imagine some places may give them a longer shelf life. But because we are a locally sourced coffee shop, we do everything 30 day. So those five pound bags of coffee, we decided to sell those to our customers. And they went pretty quickly, which allowed us to kind of manage our inventory. So we didn’t lose anything. And then by doing that three months, it gave us an opportunity to sit and think about how we were going to pivot and come back in our new reality. And that’s exactly what we had to do. And if we didn’t, we probably would have gone under a lot of our competitors have they’ve closed either seasonally, or close temporarily and forced to close permanently after a while. But fortunately, we’ve been we’ve been we actually business has been pretty good this year. Wow. Why don’t we take a step

Ressa 7:37
back? And forgive me. Tell us a little bit about what kitchen House coffee is?

Rodgers 7:42
Sure. So it’s locally, locally sourced coffee shop cafe. That’s a buck and a half of my house located in the heart of St. Louis. It’s about two and a half miles west of downtown in the South City neighborhood called tower Grove East actually it borders tower Grove east in Compton heights, which is an excellent location because we got a mix of income. Compton heights is what would be called an upper middle class neighborhood and tower Grove East is a very risky solidly middle class neighborhood. So you’ve got good demographics in which to pull from which is the part where we located the shop where we did

Ressa 8:30
and the coffee what type of coffee are you? Is it like anything special about it anything unique? What about what you’re doing in the shop is that like lattes galore, what’s going on in the coffee shop.

Rodgers 8:41
So everything that we do has a specialty flair about it. So we even roast some of our own things I roast them personally, actually was one of the last thing we moved into. We were a big roaster here roaster and actually they have coffee, coffee shops to blueprint they provide our espresso roast and then our house drip coffee and our cold brew is from another local partner that we started with from the beginning called string being and that similar to me is the owner of string being left the corporate America world to get into the coffee business but he went to the roasting side of the business while I went to the cafe side of the business. So get our our in house strip and our cold brew from stirring being and then once I joined the team it was important to me that we also had some offerings of our own and one of our former employees went to work for a shop called first crack on what first crack is. coffee roasting equipment is very expensive. The little tin the little roasters can When you’re 10 grand, the size roasters that we use can run anywhere from 20 to 30 grand for a small shop who uses other sourcing avenues to invest in that kind of equipment just doesn’t make sense. So, one of our baristas, what’s the worst first crack and what they do, they provide the equipment, they provide the training for people who want to roast their own beans. So I went through that course, I started roasting for us back in November of 2019. And, like, with anything, the more you do it, the better you get up kind of hone the craft a little bit. And that’s actually become a pretty good revenue stream for us because in addition to selling our bags on our shelves, we use them for our for overs, which is a little bit it’s, I would say, an elevated cup of coffee as opposed to just going and getting a drip. It’s a single cup made to order for one person. So we use our, our roast for those pour overs. And it’s just been great. It’s a that’s one of the things that makes us coffee special, the low the care that we do and roasting, the thing that makes our shop special. It’s focused on sustainability, and locally sourced and we sourced a lot of things from our own bar. The sustainability aspect of it, it’s important to us because a lot of the things that we focused on is environmentally conscious. So it may cost us a little more, but we have compostable straws. All of our paper products are all recycled, recyclable products, and compostable products. And it’s important to us that we don’t add to the landfill, that we as much as possible. Use our waste. That’s great.

Ressa 12:01
I love that you’re eco friendly. That’s fantastic. I love all the cool things that you roast yourself. You have other local partners. I love that it’s locally sourced. How are you competing with the competition? There’s a Starbucks not far from you. You mentioned before, how are you competing with the competition of a big brand like Starbucks,

Rodgers 12:20
you know, reopened when reopened in the fall of 2014. Interestingly, there was no coffee shop around us. And that’s kind of how we fell into the business. at a coffee shop died, Paul went looking for coffee. And he comes back by five minutes to an hour later. And I’m already ready to go to work. And I still haven’t had my coffee and like what took you so long. Like there was no shop around here. So that kind of got the wheels turning. And shortly after reopen literally six blocks from my house, and six blocks from a coffee shop as well. Starbucks opened. Now not anti Starbucks because they they primed the pump so to speak before Starbucks, I don’t think anybody would have been willing or have the appetite to spend $5 on a cup of coffee. So I will say I’m not anti Starbucks, if I’m traveling and I want a cup of coffee and there’s nothing else around. I go to Starbucks. But what differentiates us and how we are able to compete even though we have a Starbucks so close to us. We are about community, our focus is more so on community and being a part of the community. And that’s that’s what that’s what differentiates us to Starbucks and what allows us to compete. And when I say about community, we invest in our in, in our community and such that there’s a school, a block and a half from us. And even though this neighborhood is fully gentrified, be there there’s a mix of incomes. The school is a public school, and it’s primarily service serves low income kids in that school, even though the neighborhood that it sits in is spermy middle class. So we we adopted that school, so to speak, and Paul does a lot of politics. My husband and co owner of the shop, we’ve adopted that school, and we provide toy drives, clothing drives, food drives that directly benefit the school, there is a what we call a reading that’s been tricked out with kitchen house branding that we set up in the school where we have books that that are that are for the kids to enjoy. Paul has a background in education. So that’s part of the reason why that that marriage kind of happened. And me I’m also a chair of not for profit called Wyman center and it’s a national nonprofit that’s focused on making sure low income kids, kids from disadvantaged backgrounds can become the best they can become their best selves and become contributing members of the community. So all of that kind of plays into what we do at this shop, you do voter registration drives. Every holiday if it’s something that has a social justice bed or for a for example, moderate the king, they just passed. Anyone who is in a career that Berber further mankind’s mission helps us be better people. You come in and tell us about what you do. And you get a huge discount on your meal. Same thing for election day, you come in and show you a little I Voted sticker just to show that you are concerned about the community and you’re invested in it, you show us your sticker, you get 20 20% off your purchase. on Veterans Day you come in you show us your veterans art, you get 20% off your purchase. So those are the kinds of things that we do that make us part of the community. There are no booths. I mean, we live in this community. So it makes it easy for people who want to come come to us versus a Starbucks. Well books has its place. It’s on a major thoroughfare. So anybody on the way to work, just want to pop in to do a drive thru. That’s what Starbucks is for. But if Starbucks customers want someone who is invested in the community, who gives back who shows up, they come to us.

Ressa 16:33
That’s phenomenal. That I love the I voted discount, you don’t see that too. That is phenomenal. I think that that is such a great way to differentiate a business to become the fabric of the community. It’s hard to lose when you become the fabric of the community. I don’t care if you’re competing against the world’s most powerful brands, when you’re part of a community, the power of community is so strong, it will defeat all the powerful brands if you can be part of the community. So kudos to you for becoming such a strong part of your community because not every business can figure out how to do that. And I can see it’s authentic that you guys love what you’re doing for the schools. You love all the social justice things you’re doing. That is great. We’re going to take a quick break here, and now a word from one of our sponsors. With over 80 years of architectural practice, NWS architects, and its sister MBE firm, Shahadat, and associates are committed to the visions, budgets and schedules of their clients incorporating the best in architectural sustainability, licensed in 48 states with a 98 percentage rate. It’s easy to see why clients such as DLC management, Brookfield properties, Dollar General, and many major Junior anchor and anchors, trust NWS architects with their projects, large or small, call Sanjeev at 312-735-7123 or visit NW sa To learn how they can provide value for your next project. I want to move the conversation to the story. I think it’s an interesting story for a lot of reasons, and we’ll get into some of them. But tell us how you went from working for corporate America for 30 years to owning your own coffee shop tell us the story of how kitchen House coffee ended up in St. Louis, Missouri.

Rodgers 18:40
So I had no idea neither me nor Paul ever had any idea. dream of opening our own business. It just wasn’t something that was on our radar. But moved into this community in 2012. And over time, we noticed that the restaurant would open up share a bar it opened up here. A lot of the houses that had been that hadn’t been redeveloped in 3040 years, all of a sudden, the rich thing the neighborhood changed and it’s become a very walkable neighborhood. And the one thing we were noticing as we walk our dog every night, that’s no coffee shop in this neighborhood pocket this pocket that be with the density of people here. How could there not be a coffee shop and not long after we were having that conversation? A coffee shop coffee pot died and call Paul went looking for coffee comes back an hour later says there is no coffee shop in this neighborhood and the same time on the neighborhood Facebook page. That was a lot of chatter about why isn’t there a coffee shop in this neighborhood and during that same time, that was a little soul food restaurant If that went out of business, and everybody was saying, that’s the spot, that would be a good spot for for a coffee shop, and I was actually at work on my lunch break, and and at the time I was president of the neighborhood association. So I would routinely look at our Facebook page at work just to see what’s going on in the neighborhood. If there’s anything I need to deal with, or address. And I see this thread about, we’ve got to get this coffee shop, I call Paul, I said, Hey, if we don’t do this, somebody else is going to and this is our opportunity, because clearly there’s an appetite. The location just opened up. So let’s jump at it. And he like we don’t know anything about around the coffee shop. Yes, like, maybe not. But I’ve been in retail for the last 30 years, like, Yeah, but you’re in real estate. Let’s not kid ourselves. You don’t know anything about running this business? I said, No, I don’t. But what I can do is negotiate a good lease. So get us a good deal. And then we’ll learn it as we go. So we reached out to the land, the owner of the building, and we got a really good deal. And we just dumped in the first. Well, I love the

Ressa 21:15
the entrepreneurial spirit. I love the grip that just you know and the taking of action. I love people who just take action. So that’s phenomenal. Walk us through a little bit when you you get the deal. Did you have any concept of how much it was going to cost to turn this place into a coffee shop and start up?

Rodgers 21:34
No. And have we had any concept of what it was going to cost? We probably wouldn’t have done it.

Ressa 21:42
What What is it cost? What did it cost to get started up how much

Rodgers 21:47
you would be surprised what it costs to what an espresso machine costs. To buy a really good espresso machine is like buying a small car, we spend $20,000 on a espresso machine, just the espresso machine. coffee grinders, the kind that you need for specialty coffee shop. Right you $2,000 Just for a coffee grinder. So just for the coffee, coffee equipment itself, not even talking about the build out of the coffee shop, but design anything, just getting the basic things to be able to brew a cup of coffee and make a latte. We were already 30 $40,000 in and had no idea that coffee equipment cost that much again, we responded to we need a coffee shop. And we’d like all right, we got to open up a coffee shop and we got busy like oh my gosh, who knew this stuff cost this much.

Ressa 22:47
Were you able to get like an SBA loan or anything like that? Well,

Rodgers 22:51
we, again, were idiots, we just jumped in and we financed all of this ourselves, it’s our chance and and thought it is going to work or it isn’t going to work. And we can make the decision pretty quickly if it isn’t to kind of regroup and do something else. But the one thing I did caution, Paul was that I may not be on the merchant side of the business at Polaris and famous footwear. But being on the real estate side of the business, I do know we’ve got to give this at least three years if we’re going to give this a running start is going to take that long for us to figure out what we’re doing. It’s going to take that long for people to figure out that we’re there. And it’s gonna take them that long to determine whether or not it’s a good fit if they like what we’re doing. I said, so if we’re gonna do this, we need to commit for at least three years. And that’s what we did. And we’ve learned some things. And we learned a lot in those three years. One of the things that I think helped us, in addition to the coffee shop right around the same time mentioned this neighborhood was buying. So directly behind our house. There were two buildings that were condemned, one that stood on the front of the lot had no historical significance whatsoever. And then there was a little tiny house on the back of the lot that from what we’re told, was built around the 1860s. And it was used as a kitchen house for one of the bigger houses on the street that I’m supposed to live on, I assume. So just as luck would have it. That lot came up and attack shocks and so we were able to get that that lot for basically a steel. We demolish the house and a front and we bid a farm on the first part of an urban farm and we restored the back of that back building. And we started calling that back building kits in house. So based on The story that we had heard that it was a kitchen house, we started calling that back building kits in house. And then we had the farm. And Paul again, dump pit in. It took this Master Gardener course, became an excellent farmer, such that we’ve got all this produce for just the two of us. We don’t have anything to do with this. Along comes the coffee shop and the produce that goes to the coffee shop. So we, especially during the growing season, all of our greens, all of our herbs, all of our peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, you name it, we grow it ourselves on the farm. We also we’ve got chickens on the farm. We’ve got bees, so everything that we do on the farm translates to stuff that we use at the coffee shops have been where the two of them are married kids and how far they can kitchen House coffee out.

Ressa 25:57
What was first kitchens, Farmer kitchen, house, coffee

Rodgers 26:00
kitchen, farm came first. And again, Paul had no experience with that. And when he moved, he moved in from Chicago after we got married. And me being at Polaris. I told him, I said, Well, when he’s determined at the time deciding what his next career move was going to be. When he moved here, and I came home from work one day, he said, I got it. I’m gonna be a farmer. Exactly. That’s what I did. I laughed, I said, What do you know about farming? First, you allow your being with law to education, so I am not getting this. He says, Well, my farming is in my blood. I’ve got commercial farmers in my family. So somebody has to be in my blood somewhere. Yes, I say kudos, I say but just know that I’m not gonna work a 10 hour a day, and then come home and throw in overalls. That’s not happening. And he said Fair enough. And he dumped in, he took these courses, he bought this farm and it turned into this really nice operation. So that’s that. I never thought I would get tired of boiled eggs. But when you’ve got eight chickens, each laying an egg a day. You get a lot of eggs really quickly and it’s just two of us. So um, boil the eggs eggs and started eggs out it and I’m picking them to work. And he got really good at it. Wow. So

Ressa 27:37
all the all the food goes to your coffee shop from your farm your urban farm. You guys eat it? Do you sell any of it like to the market? Do you have like a stand where you sell produce to the market can I go to kitchen house farm and buy something.

Rodgers 27:50
Now the only thing that we steal from the farm is the honey. So we added honey, we had a beehives back in 2015. And initially, it was just enough honey for us to use at the coffee shop for a honey latte for sweeteners or whatnot. But over the last couple of years, we’ve gotten such a hall that in addition to using it in our as are cooking ingredients, we’ve been able to sell jars of honey. So you can come in and buy an eight ounce jar of honey off the shelf that was from our beehives. And if you have allergies, as you know if you use honey from local bees, because they’re pulling in those pollen, that using the pollens, from the things that you’re probably allergic to that local honey helps without it. So if that’s the only thing that you can buy that we have on the farm as the as the honey, everything else we use, wow.

Ressa 28:50
of your business, how much revenue comes from food versus coffee.

Rodgers 28:56
When we initially open, we didn’t want to be a cafe we distinctly did not want to be a cafe. I keep underscoring that because that’s exactly what we turned into. But that is not what we started out to be. So we only sold a couple of pastries, and it was all about the coffee. And time and time again that first year people would come in say what do you got to eat? In the booth? We got a few pastries here and yeah, I really need a sandwich. I need something a little more soft to that. So reluctantly, we started to add foods to our to our menu. And then in 2018 We opened up a second shop actually in 2018 That did not survive the pandemic. That second shop though what it did, it allowed us to hone our skills as far as the cafe is concerned, because when we open a second shop, we had a full kitchen and we did brunch and we really expanded our food offerings such that we started cooking For the original shop for the from the second location. The problem with that second location though, I should have kept my Clara’s real estate hat on and realized Location, Location. Location is key when you’re opening a business. And that neighborhood just wasn’t ready for what we were bringing. But it did allow us to hone our skills when it comes to food prep. So we had a broad start at that location, we expanded our menu. And we got pretty good at our brunch offerings. So when we closed that location, and solely focused on our original shot, we expanded the seating capacity outside. And we added a full kitchen to that location because it didn’t have one initially. And when we did that, our food offerings probably rival our coffee offerings during the week during the week is mostly coffee with the grabbing Golconda foods. But on the weekend, we do specials. So we have biscuits and gravy and all of the kind of hearty stick to your bones kind of stuff that you get from a brunch, we do that on the weekend. So on the weekends, our food sales are much higher than our beverage sales. But during the week as the they’re probably

Ressa 31:24
awesome to hear. I love how this is all tying together the farm that second shot the kitchen and you guys are learning along the way. I think that’s great that you all figured out, you knew what you didn’t know. And you were humbled by that. And were able to figure it out and learn along the way and you wanted to learn and that I think that’s going to help your success from here on out as well. I want to talk a little bit about you’re an African American entrepreneur. And I know you’re passionate about that. Talk to us a little bit what it’s what that’s been like over the last five years.

Rodgers 31:57
It’s it’s been it’s been it’s been a vowel. So it’s been a learning experience. So when I say the neighborhood is gentrifying, or has gentrified, when we moved in, that wasn’t necessarily the case, it was very much a neighborhood in transition. And even though I am a mid 50s, professional male, or when I’m not at work, I like to get as comfortable as the next guy and a ball hit it. So cookies are a thing of mine. You may kind of may know where this is going with me being a black man in a hoodie in a neighborhood that’s justified. So Paul, and I went to Chicago once and he stayed I came back on the train that came home and it was raining a little bit. So I got my hoodie up. And I’m walking, walk first walk past the coffee shop, and I realized I didn’t have my key. So I just stuck my head up to the window to make sure everything was fine. And it was fine. I went on. And I noticed something follow up. Lanza Chapala. Me, oh my god, I thought nothing of it. And then I go when I get home because this is early spring. When we were before I left Chicago, Paul and I were talking about I wonder if our tools are coming up. So before I went to the into the house, I go and I’m looking around the flower bed in the front of the house, still cognizant of the fact that I’m being followed by the guy after I stuck my head in a coffee shop. But I’m looking around the coffee bed or in the flower bed to see if I have tubes coming up. And they were what I didn’t read it because I haven’t been on a train and on a plane I had my headphones on my phone had died. So the neighbor across the street calls Paul and says that some guide, looking around in your front yard. I don’t know who it is. So he’s trying to call me to see if it’s me. Or if there’s someone else out in the yard. My phone’s dead, so I’m not getting a call. So I go up the steps and getting ready to go into my own house. And that comes up and he’s like so I saw you at that shop down there. What was going on? I said, Well, I want to stop. And I get this look like Yeah, right. Oh my god. And I’m like, Yeah, I own a shop and I live here. I don’t know what did I tell you? But I I stuck my thesis. Well, if you’re honest, are you looking in the glass is that because I didn’t have I don’t have my key to the shop with me. That’s key in the house. I can go in the house, get the key and even go back to the shop and I can show you my shop. He said that wouldn’t be necessary but I had this look of skepticism like don’t really believe that you own it. At the same time I got my neighbor calling Colin Powell wondering who’s this black guy in the hood, looking around and around the yard. So it just kind of underscored the commitment that Paul and I have to social justice issues. And it underscores the need for people like me to be more present in the community. And the shop allows us to do that. It’s good that young PSE come and see me and see my dark face as a business owner in this community. And a lot of times, they’ll they’ll walk people, customers a walk up, because we’re not sitting inside now. It’s a lot of time on the patio, cleaning up straightening up or whatnot. And then lastly, you work here, yeah, work here. I usually don’t tell them, I own the service. Yeah, I work here. And I do that so I can get the feedback of what they think about the place what to think about the shop. And it’s been overwhelmingly positive, I don’t know that we would have gotten the same level of response, if we had opened it and market it as a gay owned black owned business. We know it’s community business, it’s our community. And it’s our contribution to the community. Not that we’re looking to get a whole lot back from it. Although Yeah, we’d like to get rich off of this coffee shop. But the reality is, we won’t, it’s more of a labor of love. And we make enough to break even, we’re not making a whole lot of dough yet. Ideally, we will at some point, this pandemic has taught us a lot. So I do think that when we’re able to open up and see it inside again, business is gonna just do even be be even better than it’s been. Right now. It’s allowing us to break even once we’re able to see the inside again, I think it’s gonna take off and the fact that we do have such a community been, we do focus on everybody in our community. It just makes us who we are, and it allows us to compete.

Ressa 37:16
I love everything you’re doing. Thank you for sharing that story. The business lesson here is, the more that you can become a fabric and, and be authentic, be a fabric of the community, the better your business will do. I have no doubt that you’re going to reap the rewards for all the good you’re doing for your community in that part of St. Louis, I have no doubt that your business is going to thrive, when the doors open back up and people can be seated. Get ready, because they’re coming to kitchen House coffee,

Rodgers 37:47
you know, they have been selling us so much love during this pandemic, when we first sat down it on more than one occasion, it really got me choked up just the people reaching out saying we really want you to survive. And they come in when I mentioned we had to sell inventory. So it wouldn’t go bad. They come in and buy a 12 ounce bag of coffee that sells for 15 bucks. And then they tip us $50 On top of that, just because they they wanted to make sure that our staff was going to be okay. They wanted to do whatever they could to make sure we were going to be okay. And it’s just been it’s just been awesome. So to your point, yes, it is about community and it is important to us that it is authentic. Ly about community. And it’s not just hey, we see something and we’re gonna jump on a bandwagon and say, hey, that’s AP is doing that that’s not like a good idea. If it’s not us. And it doesn’t feel right. We don’t do it. It has to be all about the kitchen house brand.

Ressa 38:52
Businesses that make their business part of the fabric of the community and they give back to the community. That is a timeless business lesson that shows us that it works every time and it leads to the monetary reward. If you’re opening up in other markets, one of the things I would tell any of the entrepreneurs listening if you open up another location, another market, one of the things you can do, even if you’re personally not part of that community is hire people who are and they will want to be part of that community and make the business part of that community. And again, you will reap the monetary rewards for being part of the community. As much as you give back it gets paid back to you in dividends when you do that.

Rodgers 39:33
When we initially open one of the things that we look for, we want to hire within the community. So the first seven people that we hired at the coffee shop got all walked to work. There was one screen

Ressa 39:42
no excuse for being late. Well, listen, I’m conscious of time you have a business to run. I want to take us to the last part of the show called retail risk wisdom. Are you ready? Come on. All right. got three questions for you? What extinct retailer? Do you wish would come back from the dead?

Rodgers 40:04
Well, you know, I said I started this journey at Edison brothers. So I would say they had a bunch of brands, but I’m gonna shoot I’m a shoe thing. And while pair was the shoe brand that Edison brothers used to have, and I guess the the name wild pair was because it was cutting edge footwear that you could, you want to wear a nice dress shoe all the way to something a little more trendy, a little more wild side, you could find that a while back would probably be the number one brand at bringing back, RJ Riggins that was also want to edit some brothers brand. I’m just kind of partial to those brands. Because I grew up I grew up around them. And I used to work for the company.

Ressa 40:49
Understood. Second question. Yep. What’s the last thing over $20 that you bought in a store?

Rodgers 40:56
And that was tough? Because I physically go into a store? Oh, no, no. Alcohol. So we kind of split up shopping duties here we we say Paul does the grocery shopping. And I do like the household toiletries, cleaning products and alcohol. So the last thing I did was about, went to the liquor store and stocked up on wine and today’s Friday night and we do Mexican.

Ressa 41:33
I love it. Margarita Fridays. Absolutely.

Rodgers 41:36
All right.

Ressa 41:38
Last question. If you and I were shopping at Target, and I lost you would I would I find you in

Rodgers 41:45
that I’ll be I’ll be looking for dog toys. I go to Target. That’s the last stop. I always have to bring something home for the ball.

Ressa 41:54
Love it. Well, David, this has been great. Keep doing what you’re doing for your community. been awesome. I hope you crush it in 2021 I have no doubt when that indoor dining gets ramped back up, they’re gonna flood the flood the storefront.

Rodgers 42:09
Hi. Thanks, Chris.

Ressa 42:11
Thank you so much. 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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