Business: Standard goods
Address: 235 S. Washington St., Naperville
Phone/Website: 331-229-3150, www.thestandardgoods.com
Owner: Tom Kiecker, 58, of Naperville
Years of activity? Open in November 2021
What does your business do? “We sell lifestyle gifts. The things we sell, people are very emotionally attached. It’s interesting. … For example, the Hamm T-shirts. Everyone who buys it says, “My dad drank Hamm’s” or “My grandpa did.” They feel good because it takes them back to a time when things could have been easier or simpler. Or a feel-good moment,” Kiecker said.
How did this business start? “There are two such stores in Seattle that our founder, Jeff Gardner, started. We were all shoe shoppers together at Nordstrom in the 90s. My wife Karen was too. … My wife and I seven years ago had a shoe store (in Naperville), Miz Mooz & Kicks Shoes. When we were closing, Jeff was opening these stores. … He called us and said, ‘I think I wrote down the formula. Do you want to open one in the Chicagoland area? We said, ‘We can open one in Naperville.’ And here we are. …I was back at Nordstrom selling shoes for the past five years. It’s awesome.”
How is business going? “It’s been really good. … Some (buyers) recognize us from the shoe store. … We had a spectacular few days here. November was through the roof.
What’s good about being in downtown Naperville? “The foot traffic is just awesome. … On a nice day, this place moves.
Where do you find articles? “We have a team. We are three, four to make purchases. We all have our expertise. …And we try to find local sellers. We have two or three local candle companies. Two local card companies. American Needle, where we get our T-shirts, it’s local, Chicago. Bloom Time Coffee Roasters is in Naperville.
What’s popular? “We sell stickers like crazy. We sell 30 or 40 a day. They put them on water bottles… We try to be inclusive. Feminist. You will see homosexuals, equal rights, anti-racism. This kind of things. … We’re definitely pushing the envelope here. … We sell cards, candles, puzzles, games, hats, T-shirts, socks. … We have coasters with all this crazy stuff on them. People will be here 20 minutes laughing. It’s hilarious. We sell a lot of ‘Schitt’s Creek’ stuff. … During the Christmas period, we were a white elephant gift destination.
What is your speciality ? “I make t-shirts and hats. I’ve been in retail long enough where when something sells I know. I don’t need to see a sales report.
What age groups shop here? “It’s crazy. From 13, 14, they like to buy pimples. Our sweet spot is probably between 25 and 40. … There are older guys who come here and laugh.
When are you busy? “Weekends are much better. Saturdays are really good.
What are your schedules ? “We are open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.”
How many employees? “Me, a manager I hired and a few part-timers. … I got lucky. I stole my manager, Abby McCoy, from Nordstrom’s.
Do you like your job? “I love it. I like interacting with the audience on my own terms. I can be more authentic. At Nordstrom, I felt like a character in sales mode. You had to be that happy, cheerful person all day, whether you are or not. Here I can be myself. … Our goal is to make shopping easier for customers.
Negative points? “When you’re doing what you love, you don’t think about hours, that sort of thing. So far, there are no negatives. »
What misconceptions do people have? “Obviously, we lean a little to the left. And if a stalwart right winger or a church member comes here, he’s gone. … They don’t realize that if they look around they will find something here that they really like.
Has the pandemic impacted your business? ” This is not the case. We are behind. That’s why I think December was really good.
Favorite stories? “We’ve had high school and college-aged students come in and say our store makes them feel safe. They are gay or transgender. … A lady saw Hamm’s shirt in the window and ended up buying a hat. She told us her dad drank Hamm’s and that was a year after he died. The hat made her feel good. … When people like our store, they like our store.
Future plans? “We hope that by this time next year we will have another store. Maybe Elmhurst.
Any advice for people considering starting a business? “Don’t be afraid to do it.”
Steve Metsch is a freelance writer for the Naperville Sun.