A Tale of Two Cities for One vomFASS

ventura

 

By Toni Jakovec

Toni Jakovec:  Good afternoon, Eric.  In your opinion, just how important is the right location for a vomFASS store?​

Eric Alcorn:  I believe the right location is paramount for the success of a vomFASS store.  In fact, it is the number one criteria for success.  When we opened the Westlake store, I believe we were the 5th franchise. Needless to say, no one had a great deal of experience in choosing store locations.  All of the research confirmed that the demographics for Westlake were spot-on.  Unfortunately, we selected a location that was not a “destination.”  We had to really work hard to help people find the store.  For three years we put our hearts and souls into the Westlake location, but it just wasn’t growing.  We came to the conclusion that we would be better off re-locating the store to an area that was already a destination. A “destination” location is where people are already walking by, spending an afternoon window shopping, enjoying the sights and happen upon our store.  These are folks that will come in and ultimately become our customers.

TJ:  When did the Westlake store open?

EA:  We opened in 2010.

TJ:  Eric, was there a “tipping point” at Westlake that finally caused you to consider relocating?

EA:  There was no real “tipping point”, but what we had was a store that was not growing.  After the last holiday season, it was clear that the store was in a holding pattern.  Our options were fairly straightforward, either stick out the lease and tread water or negotiate a lease settlement and find a location that was going to produce.  We chose the latter.  Brad, Mike and I, along with the Westlake staff, had a meeting to discuss the future.  We were all so convinced that the vomFASS concept, the products, the way the store is organized, the interfacing with the customers were all so powerful that we decided to take the risk and reinvest in order to put the store in a location that would have the customers we were looking for.  It was a recommitment to the concept because we believed so completely that owning a vomFASS store could be both great fun and profitable.  Now we are on a quest to prove that!

TJ:  Very nicely put, Eric.  What is your new location?

EA:  451 East Main Street, Ventura, California.

TJ:  Is this part of a lifestyle center or shopping mall?

EA:  No, it is a street front store.  Main Street is a conglomeration of eclectic shops, entertainment areas, wine tasting bars and unique retail.  So it is already a destination street frequented by locals as well as a fairly intensive amount of tourist traffic.

TJ:  I know Ventura is on the coast, Is your shop on the beach?

EA:  No, Main Street is about 3 blocks from the beach.  And Ventura is about a half hour south of Santa Barbara.

TJ:  So how far away is Ventura from the Westlake location?

EA:  It’s a 30 minute drive.

TJ:  Wow, if it’s only 30 minutes, you could potentially keep your loyal Westlake customers.

EA:  Absolutely.  We have kept our Westlake mailing list of about 3500 customers, who are included in all of our email blasts.  Many of them do frequent Ventura.

TJ:  I know when you open a vomFASS franchise there is a lot of equipment and fixtures that are required.  Where you able to keep any from the Westlake store and use them in your new Ventura location?

EA:  Yes.  We set up the new Ventura store entirely with fixtures and equipment from Westlake.  Needless to say, some adjustments were necessary, but we have a very nice store now using all of the Westlake equipment.  Amazingly, the only things we had to order were products.

TJ:  Sounds like a very smooth transition.  Were there any hurdles?

EA:  The liquor license, of course.  You can’t just move and take your liquor license with you, at least not in California.  There is quite a procedure that you must follow.

TJ:  Do you have plans for a grand opening in the near future?

EA:  We just opened the doors last weekend and had a soft opening.  Believe it or not, we had more customers walk through the doors in the first four hours than we had in a week in Westlake.  This coming Thursday the Downtown Ventura Business Coalition is holding a grand opening event for us in the courtyard next door.  We will then do a ribbon cutting with the Chamber of Commerce that will be set up in the fall.

TJ:  I understand you have a couple of partners in the vomFASS franchise.

EA:  Yes I do.  Brad Selby and Mike Romance are the partners.

TJ:  Who manages the store?

EA:  Mike Romance is the day to day manager.  He has 30 years of retail experience.  Plus, of course, a great staff from the Westlake store, who have come to work at Ventura.  We have a really good group of people who will keep the store humming.

TJ: How about a little history.  How did you originally find out about vomFASS?

EA:  My background is healthcare finance, biotech finance and operations.  Brad has a similar background and is the brother-in-law of David Gibson, vomFASS CEO, and Justin Gibson, vomFASS President is his nephew.  About 2009, Brad gave me a sample set of vomFASS products and said, “Just taste this.”  I said, “I don’t know what that is, but I want to be a part of it!”  I was blown away by the product.  Went to Madison to check out the store and loved the overall concept.  Neither Brad nor I had any experience in retail, so we brought in Mike Romance, and about a year later we opened the Westlake store.

TJ:  Do you have a favorite vomFASS product and recipe you’d like to share?

EA:  That is really a difficult choice.  We love everything in the store, but really like lemon olive oil and date vinegar for an arugula salad, Calamansi vinegar drizzled over a fresh fruit salad, and the aged Spanish red wine vinegar in soups, gravies and stews….particularly fish stew with clams, black cod, shrimp and scallops in a tomato broth with roasted corn and cilantro.  Here’s a recipe for Gorgonzola and Balsamic Steak Glaze.  I think you’ll like it.

TJ:  What’s not to like?  Thanks so much Eric.

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Gorgonzola and Balsamic Glazed Steaks

Steak

Ingredients:

4 steaks, cut of your choice
1/2 medium shallot, minced
1/4 cup vomFASS Rosemary Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 package (approx. 6 oz.) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/8 cup vomFASS Aceto Balsamico Maletti
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
vomFASS Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Steaks:
1. Heat grill to red hot.
2. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper and your choice of seasonings.
3. Grill to desired doneness.

Gorgonzola and Balsamic Glaze:

1. Pour Rosemary Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat.
2. Add shallots and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes.
3. Add Gorgonzola cheese and stir until cheese melts, about 2 minutes.
4. Add Aceto Balsamico Maletti Vinegar and continue to heat while stirring frequently until a smooth consistency is reached, about 2 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and spread glaze on grilled steaks.
6. Garnish with rosemary for presentation.

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Disclaimer: This information is not intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, a franchise. It is for information purposes only. Currently, the following states in the United States regulate the offer and sale of franchises: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states, we will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your jurisdiction.