The Cupboard is the largest kitchen specialty store in Northern Colorado. Located in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins, this iconic shop is locally owned by Jim Hewitt. His father Carey Hewitt founded The Cupboard in 1972, though Carey now refers to himself as the OFO, the “Old” Financial Officer, which he says means he just pays the bills. Carey Hewitt talked with us about his experiences starting the Cupboard and offered his advice to individuals wanting to start a business or work in the area.
Q: WHAT IS THE CUPBOARD? ⠀
The Cupboard is a kitchen specialty store with an emphasis on housewares, decorative accessories for the home, gourmet food, coffee, candy and seasonal merchandise. We’ve never written down a mission statement, but we just try to do the best we can. I started the business with $1,000 in a 750-square-foot space and it took a long time to get where we are. The tiled area of the current 10,000-square-foot store is the same size as what we started with; the hardwood is how much we’ve grown.
Q: WHAT STANDS OUT TO EMPLOYEES?
It is hard to know exactly what stands out to the employees, but six of the 25 staff members have worked here 20 years or more. Hopefully it is our working environment. You see so many business owners who want to control it all and I think the success of the Cupboard is letting go of that. The buying is all done by staff members – everyone has input. We divide it out, so everyone has their own area, like their own little store. You’re sharing the responsibility of buying, and excitement of sharing those items. While they are here, the employees give so much effort to the store, and we like to reward that and allow them to have that autonomy. We obviously are not a big corporate organization, so there is comfort in a small, close-knit group. Working downtown is also important to many of us with its uniqueness as well as its quirkiness. For me, it is a pleasure to work with such wonderful, pleasant, capable people.
Q: HOW DO YOU FURTHER THE MISSION OF WORK IN NORTHERN COLORADO?
We further the mission of Work in Northern Colorado by being the best we can be for our employees and those who shop in our store. We hope our story encourages others to start their own businesses. It seems daunting, but it’s not rocket science. It is treating people the way you like to be treated. You have to let people respond to what you are selling or doing. It might take a while, but that will shine, and people will learn about it. Northern Colorado has so much to offer people: environment, entertainment, energy. It is not for everybody, but for those who like this vibrant area, you’ll find something. Follow your passion and hope that it works out, but realize that it doesn’t have to and if it doesn’t work out: pick yourself up and try something else.