Howie Nourieli and Robyn Coval were best friends. After Howie brought Robyn into his specialty kitchen supply business, the two wound up partnering in business and personally, as they married and started a family. Neither partnership would last, however, and the two eventually divorced. Their split spilled over into the business causing personal and professional problems.
Bowery Kitchen Supplies’ profits began to slip away as Howie and Robyn found it difficult to agree on anything having to do with the operations of the business. Their Chelsea Market location was drawing a good deal of traffic and the two had built up a solid reputation, but their personal conflicts were affecting the success of the business, which was in steady decline.
The divorced couple was still 50/50 partners in the business, though Howie had the final say on business matters as he was the one who originally started the business and brought Robyn on board later. The Profit’s Marcus Lemonis felt the potential was still there to make Bowery Kitchen Supplies a huge long-term success and was willing to help get the business back on track.
Bowery Kitchen Supplies on The Profit
The Profit Season 4 Episode 9
In his initial walkthrough, Marcus was immediately impressed with the large selection of high-quality knives at Bowery Kitchen Supplies but felt the display of their inventory could use some improvement. The aisles of the shop were small and cramped, their products seemed to be arranged with no order or forethought, and empty boxes littered valuable space in the store.
Howie showed off some of their most popular and unique items, including a knife with a deer foot handle and a machete. Marcus described the store as looking “junky” and unorganized without a clear path or direction for customers browsing through their inventory. A display of glassware had been moved because Howie did not like it, even though they had sold more of them with the display where it was. Throughout these initial conversations, it became clear to Marcus that Howie was the dominant voice in the decision-making process, and that it created conflict between the two business partners.
Bowery Kitchen Supplies was generating upwards of $3 million in revenue annually. A third of their business came from their knife sales, the focal point of their promotional efforts. The store was not making full use of the space and Robyn said that Howie had purchased a significant amount of inventory that was not moving, which contributed to the ineffective arrangement within the store.
Marcus met with the general manager, Laurie, who admitted to getting conflicting messages and information from Howie and Robyn, making her job more challenging than it needed to be. Though Howie was said to be in charge, it was Robyn who had been working the store on a more regular basis, with Howie taking off for vacation for two months out of the year.
In speaking with the floor manager and other Bowery Kitchen Supplies employees, Marcus found they were frustrated with the way Howie ran the business. They seemed much happier and more productive when Howie was not present.
Breaking Down the Finances
Bowery Kitchen Supplies had generated over $3.1 million in revenue with a cost of $1.3 million in inventory. Additional overhead and business expenses approached $2 million, netting them a loss for the year. They also had almost $500,000 in debt and just $30,000 in cash. Robyn revealed that a loan of $185,000 from Howie’s brother was secured without her knowledge or consent.
Marcus offered $350,000 in exchange for 40% equity in Bowery Kitchen Supplies. The owners felt they would be more comfortable with each of the three of them owning a third of the business. Marcus agreed and the deal was made.
The first objective when Marcus took control was to establish separate departments within the story to organize the merchandise and product displays. He would develop a glassware brand for Bowery Kitchen Supplies and provide a plan for expanding their product line. A streamlined point-of-service system would liquidate products that were not selling in the store.
A liquidation sale designed to get rid of these products with severely discounted prices and get more traffic in the store did not go quite as planned. Howie balked at some of the items Marcus had included to be liquidated and took them off the floor. The remaining items in the sale were not moving anyway.
Contractors were brought in for remodeling efforts, and Marcus planned to meet with the two owners to plan the new structure of the store, but Howie did not show for the meeting. Marcus put Robyn in charge. When Howie eventually showed he dismissed all of Robyn’s ideas.
With the liquidation process complete, Marcus learned that Robyn had been hiding funds from Howie to prevent him from spending the money on unnecessary equipment and inventory. When the remodeling project was nearly done, Marcus discovered that Howie had once again gone on vacation without letting any of them know he was leaving.
Marcus had a heart-to-heart talk with Howie, who ultimately admitted that Robyn had been doing a good job and was vital to the success of Bowery Kitchen Supplies. He agreed to work with her to relaunch and committed to being a more present and responsible partner.
The relaunch was a success and the store looked great. Distinct departments made the shopping experience easier for customers to find what they wanted and the redesign of the store gave Bowery Kitchen Supplies a homey feel. Marcus was predicting the changes would double the business’ revenue.
Bowery Kitchen Supplies After The Profit
Bowery Kitchen Supplies has been a great success since the redesign and other improvements Marcus instituted. Positive online reviews and active social media platforms helped to shape their brand and increase their visibility in the marketplace.
A kids’ cooking section that Robyn had proposed has taken on a life of its own and has been a bit hit. The exposure from their appurtenance on The Profit has not only helped to increase revenue and profits, but it also gave the employees and owners a bit of celebrity status, with customers often wanting to take photos with the famous staff at Bowery Kitchen Supplies.
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