In the second episode of The Selling Local Podcast, Tyler speaks with Jodi Rapaport. She is the owner of My Big Finds, a vintage local business store. Based out of Maryland, she knows how to run a successful and community-oriented local business.
In this episode, they talk about her founding story, how businesses should approach selling products/services to a local business owner, and the growth of her business from a pop-up shop to a community staple.
From Brokerage to Small Business Success
Tyler: To jump right into it, I would love to hear a story from you, how you went from the brokerage world to a pop-up shop and how you decided to make that move.
Jodi: I think it was more about leading with the heart and the idea that I had worked in the same industry for 25 years. I'm very passionate and loyal, and I learned everything I was going to learn. I literally grew up in the brokerage industry. I went from working on a team to being a branch manager, and office manager, and I was in charge of approving million-dollar trades. I was very much about protecting people,
I found that we had to reapply for our jobs like a lot of industries do these days. People keep buying each other, merging, and it became very stressful, I grew up in it, so I didn't know there could be anything else. But I always felt like I could do something on the side. I always encourage all my friends to do something that they're passionate about, whether that means taking a photography class, learning to make jewelry, help out with kids so that you're getting that passion in your life, you feel fulfilled.
So I took some time off. And then I was like "Oh, let me start a pop-up shop." They were kind of big and I'm very into vintage. I loved going and supporting all these small things. And I didn't quite figure it out in my head yet that what it really was, was supporting people with their own vision. And whether it was new or old, I just loved when I went somewhere it brought me an escape from my reality, and it made me just kind of forget what was going on in my world for that moment and participate in where I was like, full on. And that's what I loved.
Next thing you know, this thing kind of took off. And we literally did not have a business plan. I was just going to do it for three months, and I was going to stay there. But as I spoke to people and as I realized, like, there was a wholesale market and I could start buying things that weren't just vintage, I could tell from people that we didn't have anything in our community. I was listening to people and what they were looking for. I think a lot of times people come in because they like me and I like them and we talk and they become neighbors, and then we become friends. And then every time they come in, I hope I make them feel special.
Necessitates For a Small Business Owner
Tyler: I think that was an awesome example, and I can feel the passion oozing from you. As a new parent, I think there are a lot of parallels between being a new parent, and a new business owner. We're all kind of figuring this out just like our parents were figuring that out.
I'm wondering, in that moment when you first launched the pop-up shop, what were some of the things you needed to buy? Like, what were some of the services you needed? Or did you need to get QuickBooks and back-of-the-house stuff?
Jodi: Great question. This is why you have to have a COO or a CFO, which is literally my husband. He is technology driven. I'm people driven. And so I would say if you've got that all wrapped in one, you're great, but if you don't reach out to somebody who you know will guide you or help you.
I think because I was so driven into the whole flea market or farmers market realm, we started looking to see what people had, whether it was, Clover or Square. And again, I'm loyal and a creature of habit. So we started with Square, and then we also found that Square links to QuickBooks and everything could be very simple. And I didn't want to worry about that kind of stuff. I want it to be solid. I want it to be fluid. I don't want to have to spend my energy on that.
Selling Story: How Yelp Tried To Sell To Jodi
Tyler: Hey, you've designed the business for what you want, right?
Being a local business owner, have you had people come and try to sell you things in your business during the day? And what are some examples of what people have tried to sell you? And any examples of good approaches versus bad?
Jodi: I usually love when people want to sell or show me stuff, as a vintage store owner, that's where the goodies are. But I usually have a whole policy now. When I'm at the store, I'm at the store. I'm focused on selling to customers. I don't have time to but please send me an email, and I will follow up.
Half the time when someone is trying to sell to me I tell them to follow up with me because I will not follow up with you right away, I let them know that upfront.
I just had somebody from Yelp reach out to me. I've had Yelp reach out to me all the time, and they want to sell me ads. And I'm like, I'm not interested in buying ads. I don't want to have to figure out ads on top of everything else. I can do, like, boosting Facebook or Instagram posts for $20 or $30. I'm not doing $300 a month.
So this last person called me to let me know her offer had changed a little bit. And I was like, you know what? I'd be interested to hear it, but I'm on vacation right now because I only use my cell phone. And she's like, no problem. I was like, Please send me an email. I will read it. Don't know when, but I will, and feel free to follow back up.
Well, she called me, like, two weeks in a row, and I flat out said to her, you need to stop calling me because I will now not want to respond to you because it's going to bother me that I feel now that I feel pressured that I've not responded. And you're stressing me out rather than letting me look at this at my own pace. But I have no problem with you responding back to the email and checking in. And so I let her know what I needed. Some people might feel differently, but that was what I told her. And she was like, oh, got it. Sorry. Now I know.
If you're selling, you might be roaring to go at the beginning of the year, but I'm now catching my breath and putting away stuff, and so my philosophy of where I am is a little different, where you are on this. Like, I got to reach my goal, and I know that she's got a goal to reach, but I just want to get back into surviving and getting the year scheduled.
Jodi's Favorite Local Restaurant
Tyler: Do you have a favorite local restaurant and if so what is the order you get there?
Jodi: There's this brother and sister-owned sushi restaurant called Kenaki! If you live in Maryland and love sushi, you need to check it out!
We hope you enjoyed the second episode of The Selling Local Podcast! If you are a Local Business Owner or know a Local Business Owner that would be a perfect guest for the podcast, e-mail our Content Marketing Lead Alex @ Alex@re2.ai with the business and owner's name!