‘People will be here 20 minutes giggling’ – Chicago Tribune

Business: Standard Goods

Address: 235 S. Washington St., Naperville

Phone / website: 331-229-3150, www.thestandardgoods.com

Owner: Tom Kiecker, 58, of Naperville

Years in business? Opened in November 2021

What does your business do? “We sell lifestyle gifts. The stuff we sell, people are very emotionally attached to it. It’s interesting. … For instance, the Hamm’s T-shirts. Everybody that Buys those say, ‘My dad drank Hamm’s’ or ‘My grandpa did.’ They feel good about it because it brings them back to a time when things might have been easier or simpler. Or a feel-good time, ”Kiecker said

How did this business start? “There are two of these stores in Seattle which our founder, Jeff Gardner, started. We were all shoe buyers together at Nordstrom’s back in the ’90s. My wife Karen, too. … My wife and I six seven years ago, we had a shoe store (in Naperville), Miz Mooz & Kicks Shoes. When we were closing, Jeff was starting up at these stores. … He called us up and said, ‘I think I’ve got the formula down. Do you guys 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’s selling shoes for the past five years. This is awesome. ”

How’s business? “It’s been really good. … Some (shoppers) recognize us from the shoe store. … We’ve had some Spectacular days here. November was through the roof. ”

What’s good about being in downtown Naperville? “Foot traffic is just awesome. … It’s a nice day, this place is hopping. ”

Where do you find items? “We have a team. There are three, four of us that do the buying. We all have our expertise. … And we try to find local vendors. We have two or three local candle companies. Two local card companies. American Needle, where we get our T-shirts, that’s local, Chicago. Bloom Time Coffee Roasters is in Naperville. ”

What is 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’re going to see gay, equal rights, anti-racism. That kind of stuff. … We definitely push 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 giggling. It’s hilarious. We sell a lot of ‘Schitt’s Creek’ stuff. … During Christmastime, we were a white elephant gift destination. ”

What’s your specialty? “T-shirts and hats are what I do. I’ve been in retail long enough where when something’s selling, I know. I don’t have to look at a sales report. ”

Which age groups shop here? “It’s crazy. From 13, 14, they like to buy buttons. Our sweet spot is probably 25 to 40. … There are older guys who come in here and laugh. ”

When are you busy? “Weekends are way better. Saturday is really good. ”

What are your hours? “We are open 10 to 8 Monday through Thursday, 10 to 9 on Friday and Saturday, 11 to 6 on Sunday.”

How many employees? “Me, the manager I Hired and a couple of part-time people. … 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 public on my own terms. I can be more Authentic. At Nordstrom’s, I felt like I was a character in sales guy mode. You had to be that happy, joyful person all day whether you were or not. Here, I can be myself. … We’re all about making it easier for customers to shop. ”

Any negatives? “When you’re doing what you love, you don’t think about the hours, that kind of stuff. Right now, there are no negatives. ”

What misconceptions do people have? “Obviously, we do lean a little left. And if a hard-core right-Winger or a church person comes in here, they walk right out. … They don’t realize that if they look around, they’ll find something here they really like. ”

Has the Pandemic impacted your business? “It hasn’t. We’re on the tail end of it. That’s why I think December was really good. ”

Any favorite stories? “We’ve had high school, college age kids come in and tell us our store makes them feel safe. They’re gay or transgender. … One lady saw the Hamm’s shirt in the window and ended up buying a hat. She told us her dad drank Hamm’s and it was a year from when he had died. The hat made her feel good. … When people like our store, they love our store. ”

Any future plans? “We’re hoping by this time next year we’ll have another store. Maybe Elmhurst. ”

Any advice for people thinking about starting a business? “Don’t be afraid to do it.”

Steve Metsch is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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