Golda’s Kitchen in Mississauga has come a long way
TARA WALTON/TORSTAR news service
A Mississauga, Ont., couple is serving up quality kitchenware online, and business is booming.
Many things about Golda’s Kitchen make it a unique business. It’s open seven days a week; it has a retail outlet fronting its warehouse at the local mall; the only advertising they do is Google ads at $100-$200 US per month; and two-thirds of their business coming online.
Fred Pritchard and Howard Goldstein — the first gay couple to get a permit to get married in Mississauga — work out of tiny, cramped, windowless cubbyholes, up against warehouse stock that flows in and out of the store constantly.
They’re also searching for a software vendor to redesign their website. Price estimates for websites with e-commerce capabilities range from $10,000 to $700,000 for a site similar to online retailers with $100 million in revenues. Pritchard and Goldstein are determined to not overpay and to get what they want. Their business depends on it. They have more than 6,000 items on their website, ranging from espresso machines at $3,100 to cookie cutters and cake-decorating implements. (They run cake-decorating classes year round.)
To come up with a short list of vendors, Pritchard did a lot of research, starting with Internet Retailer, a U.S. magazine that publishes the top 500 retail websites in North America. He talked to vendors. “What features do you offer? Can you do Canadian taxes? A gift registry? How many employees/e-commerce customers do you have?”
“I’m hanging my hat on their software and their ability to constantly improve it, so I want to know they’ve got the people to do the job,” Pritchard says.
After Goldstein analyzed the technical data, they chose a vendor. Yet even with their due diligence, “it quickly became clear the vendor couldn’t deliver what they’d promised,” Pritchard says. “We got a refund.”
They’re back to their short list, looking at three or four different companies. Consultants at the Humber Corporate Education Centre tried to assist Golda’s Kitchen on the software side. “They were not open to what our web expert had to tell them,” account manager Nadia Desjardins says.
“We were not on the same page. She was focused on hiring the right programmer. That’s not what I’m looking for. I don’t want to customize software just for me. I want to go on a platform with 100 other retailers and pay a monthly fee to get the software vendor to automatically provide us with updates.”
On the sales front, they want to triple sales volume — which means a long-term plan to expand online offerings, with more room in both the warehouse and the retail outlet. The idea for their kitchenwares business came to them on Canada Day weekend in 1999. On the way back to Toronto from a cottage, Goldstein stopped at Ares, a huge restaurant supply store near Montreal, “to get some kitchenware I couldn’t find in Toronto.”
Goldstein, nicknamed Golda, is a baker and once made 50 different desserts from scratch for a holiday party, so he appreciated the wares of Ares, the largest kitchen retailer in Canada with three Montreal-area stores, each covering 15,000 sq. ft.
On that fateful drive back to Toronto, Goldstein and Pritchard talked about how deprived Torontonians were, not to have an Ares in the neighbourhood.
In 1999, they took the leap and launched goldaskitchen.com. Goldstein built the website by customizing an existing software package and writing some of his own code. “You submit to search engines; they find you.” He devoted himself to the new business full time, searching out product, dealing with suppliers, packing shipments. By September 2001, they opened the store.
“In 14 to 16 months, we went from zero to ‘this is too much,’” Goldstein says.
Focus on the ’Net: Humber
|On the retail side, the Humber consultants suggested the partners focus on the online business and not bother with a store, but Pritchard disagreed. “Some people like to come into the store and see the products. I already have the inventory, I’ve got staff putting together orders for online customers, it doesn’t cost much more to be open for retail.”|