Convenience Store News

FEB 2017

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22 Convenience Store News | FEBRUARY 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM SMALL OPERATOR The four founders/investors, which include two pizza company entrepreneurs who took their local Sizzle Pie concept to Seattle and Brooklyn, have a goal of running five Mini Mini stores in Portland within the next three years. Setting up Mini Mini locations beyond its home base is a strong possibility, too, as there have already been requests by building owners in New York City and Seattle looking for shops like Mini Mini. "The whole goal is to lock things in place here. Then, anything is game," Brown said. "We have to make our processes sound before we make that big of a jump." He's referring to the fact that so many of Mini Mini's products are sourced by local vendors, some- thing it would have to do in each city it enters. So, a prerequisite of expanding outside Portland would be to make sure its systems for managing vendors were "locked tight and in place," as he puts it. Then, bring- ing on people with a similar energy in other cities would be the next key in expanding. Wherever they go, the plan is to take their neighbor- hood appeal with them — relying on being nimble and listening to the locals before building something special. Before Mini Mini opened, Buckman neighbor- hood residents found Brown and Felix-Lund painting over graffiti that was tagged on the building the night before, sweeping the sidewalks in front of the store, and just communing with passersby. "We showed them how small business works. We didn't come from money and we didn't have money to hire anyone to do these tasks; we were out there doing it ourselves," Brown said. "By the time we opened, people told us how glad they were that we made it, and that was partly because we asked them beforehand what they wanted in a store like this. We listened." CSN right," said Brown. They conducted a lot of interviews to find people who could help set up systems and count inventory. For Mini Mini, this wasn't really an option, but rather a require- ment, given that Brown and Felix-Lund, the operating partners of Mini Mini, actually have "day jobs." Brown is the director of sales for Portland's Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., a lighting and life- style company that manufactures lights, furniture and shelving units. And yes, it is the source of the lights and custom shelving at Mini Mini. Felix-Lund is the director of operations for Coava coffee, an award-winning coffee found in Mini Mini that "immediately grabs the ears of folks who want the next level of coffee, which is super important in Portland," Brown said. The fact that "we were able to pool these different areas of our lives together was really exciting." Brown, though, admits that while the pooling of resources was a business benefit, their having other career commitments is a definite drawback. The two operating partners trade their before and after work time to be at the shop, keeping rigorous schedules to get it all done. "If we could be there more often, we would, espe- cially during the day hours when deliveries come in," said Brown. "But we spend a lot of time setting up [our] staff for whatever is going to happen on a par- ticular day — that is paramount." EXPANSION PLANNING Given how busy both operating partners are, can expansion be in Mini Mini's future? "Oh yeah, we're already scouting out the next loca- tion," Brown revealed. "We want to put in as many Mini Minis as we can, and pool our resources to do so." Mini Mini serves Portland's Buckman neighborhood, one of the city's most popular residential districts.

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