Sometimes, a business owner just has to give up. That's what Arturo Apodaca Rodriguez did after struggling for nearly four years to expand sales at his Shoe Daca boutique on Freeport Boulevard in Land Park.
It's the neighborhood where Apodaca works as a teacher and lives, and he will tell you that his neighbors welcomed his store. His sales surged by 80 percent in 2011 and 2012, and he expected sales to grow at least 25 percent this year.
The percentages sound big, but Apodaca was just managing to meet his bills and pay his five employees.
"We were just struggling so, so hard," he said. "We were able to eventually get a couple of decent name brands in there like Salt Water and Sanrio with Hello Kitty."
But he couldn't get other desirable brands to his Land Park store because they wanted better sales per square foot and building upgrades. He felt hamstrung by city regulations that limited where he and other retailers could place signs and a parking lot that had little more than 14 spaces. Customers were being ticketed for parking illegally.
Last November, Apodaca moved his boutique to Laguna Gateway Shopping Center at the corner of Laguna Boulevard and West Stockton Boulevard in Elk Grove, and in a little more than six months, he's already achieved sales per square foot that are comparable to his former location. He expects them to grow by 50 percent year over year because TOMS, Chinese Laundry and Steve Madden have joined his lineup.
Elk Grove officials will formally welcome Shoe Daca with a ribbon-cutting on July 10. For years, Apodaca's boutique has donated clothing and shoes to Sacramento students, and now Elk Grove teens will also benefit. If customers want to get in on this action, they can bring gently used prom dresses and formal suits and donate them at the grand opening.
One whopper of a win
Restaurateur William Taylor emailed me this "obit" over the weekend: "The local guys win. Burger King closed the Arden and Fair Oaks location on Wednesday evening 6/26/13. The logo signs came down on Friday marking a victory for local competitors."
Burger King's public relations staff didn't reply Monday to my query about why the restaurant closed.
Taylor is the man behind Willie's Burgers. His first location opened at 16th and Broadway in Sacramento back in October 1991. He opened his Carmichael location at 5050 Arden Way back in May 2004. He also owns Iron Steaks on 13th at Broadway, by the way.
Taylor's take is that locals chose to support a local brand and eat a better burger.
Want to inspire your children to be inventors? Get a 185-pound Newfoundland, and have them clean up after him.
As kids, Jordan Buhagiar, his big brother Josh and his younger brother Jason had to clean up after the now-departed Mookie the Newfie as kids. Today, at ages 29, 31 and 27, they've invented a little contraption known as the PoogoStick, and it is being sold for $39.99 at PetSmart stores.
PetSmart thinks that the Buhagiars and the team now includes Jordan's wife, Jenna have built a better pooper scooper. The Buhagiars won an innovation contest run by the pet products retailer, and PetSmart is putting its marketing muscle behind the PoogoStick.
Jordan Buhagiar explained how the idea was born: "My brothers and I grew up in Sonoma County, and we lived on a half-acre of green grass and it was our job to keep it clean. We tried everything. We tried shovels. We tried pooper scoopers that were sold in stores, and nothing worked good. My dad took a piece of wood, and he shot nails through it and it worked great because it basically combed it out of the grass when it was smashed in or wet or baked in. But the problem was you had to slam on the bucket to get it off."
The PoogoStick slides beneath pet waste and pushes it into an accompanying pan. If buyers like, they can insert an optional bag into the pan to make it easier to toss away.
The Buhagiars have a one-year exclusive deal with PetSmart. They are already working up other ideas for their company, All Paw Pet Products, which is based out of Jordan and Jenna Buhagiar's home in West Sacramento.