Finding the Best Retail Location
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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Johnson, who started working with the shopping center’s leasing agent to arrange a deal, liked the fact that a florist, breakfast restaurant, and deli would be tenants in the mall. “We knew that we’d get a lot of foot traffic from those other businesses.” But just when signs seemed to point in Classic Cobbler’s favor, management changed hands. “We had to start the whole process over again with the new owner, who wanted to review our presentation and business plan,” says Johnson. “Fortunately, he liked our concept and gave us an opportunity.” They opened in November 2010.

Chicago has the third-highest retail rents in the U.S. However, monthly rent for the 1,195-square-foot Classic Cobbler is a very affordable $2,000.

Always looking to boost its sales, the company, which has been featured on WGN-TV Chicago, relies on both traditional news outlets and social media to promote its discounts and customer reward programs. Classic Cobbler has also formed partnerships with organizations such as the Flossmoor Country Club. “We know that foot traffic only goes so far,” says Johnson, who has also tested coupon marketing options such as Groupon, Living Social, and Valpak.

Classic Cobbler plans to expand. Johnson is eyeing retail locations in Atlanta (with the aid of relatives in the area who have tapped angel investors). For now, the Chicago family trio is striving to achieve the difficult balance between increasing sales volume by wholesaling to grocery stores and maintaining consistent freshness, taste, and quality. “No matter how big our company gets,” says Johnson, “we don’t ever want to lose that.”

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