November 15, 2017

Small biz spotlight: The Cooks Marketplace, a community food hub

With Small Business Saturday just around the corner on Nov. 25, we are featuring some of our small business members. Small businesses, ones with 25 employees or less, make up the majority of our Chamber & EDC membership and help drive our region forward.

Q&A with Jon-Michael Horst, President & CEO of The Cooks Marketplace

Tell us about your business.

The Cooks Marketplace is a local gourmet kitchen store, but more than that, we are a community food hub. We sell high-quality and functional products for home cooks, teach cooking classes, and offer a knife sharpening service.  We also offer free community oriented services like free cooking demonstrations on Saturdays, a cookbook exchange, and free cookware re-conditioning.

What is your favorite part about owning a business?

Our customers! Building relationships is at the heart of what we do.  We are a local business which allows us to have one-on-one relationships within our store.  It’s rewarding to know that the products that we offer add value to their cooking and enriches their lives.  Owning a retail store AND being able to connect with customers over something emotional like food and cooking is a rare combination that we relish.

What makes small business unique?

Small business is both challenging and rewarding on a daily basis. We offer personalized service and on-hand product knowledge, which is not available with our national competitors.  We can be nimble with inventory and ordering and do not need to get locked into contracts to set merchandising plans.  However, we live in an e-commerce world where price is often a deciding factor, and that sometimes makes it difficult to compete.

What makes Colorado Springs appealing for business?

Colorado Springs is a growing community with a diverse population. Quite frankly, we opened our business here because we are a native Colorado Springs resident and a transplant who have been here for 20 years – and we wouldn’t live anywhere else. Being part of the community and contributing to our local economy was the most appealing aspect of our opening a business in Colorado Springs.

What advice would you give to other small businesses?

Plan like you are opening a large business. Think of every possible road block and challenge on the front end so that you are prepared when you’re are presented with new obstacles.  Have more money than you think you need – those little expenses add up fast.  Be open to suggestions and out of the box ideas. It just might be your next best idea!