Peppercorn —40 Years of Delight
If there ever was a wonderland for foodies, Peppercorn in Boulder, Colo., just might the Disney World. In the 40 years since Doris Houghland first opened her cooking school and small gourmet store, Peppercorn has grown into 17,000 square feet chock full of beautiful imports, top-of-the-line appliances, impossible-to-find kitchen gadgets, gourmet and imported foods as well as a gift shop.
Peppercorn recently revamped its website to be mobile friendly. The store’s website does very little e-commerce, mostly gift cards and sells a few options from dinnerware and knives. Web sales are not very big because Peppercorn can’t ship for free like Amazon.
However, Peppercorn does have a store through Amazon. It is competition for the physical store, but it reaches consumers that store can’t draw from and sells a lot in categories that the store itself can’t compete. “We’re literally competing with them, but it’s all the same company, so it doesn’t really matter,” says Janice Manville, general manager.
The Amazon store, which started a little more than four years ago, has a more curated selection with a focus solely on housewares like pots and pans, gadget and coffee accessories. It also is where Peppercorn sells most of its small electrics. The Amazon store also sells a lot of package deals by combining several commonly purchased items together out of a 3,500-square-foot warehouse in Boulder; Peppercorn has virtually no storage at the store; everything that comes in has to go straight to the sales floor.
For future trends, Manville sees categories that are a draw for men as opportunities for growth. More men are cooking so things that are attractive to men are going to grow like barbecue and grilling tools, sous vide and knives. “Knives are really good because when guys cook I think they want a really good knife. I don’t think women care as much, but guys really care about knives,” she says.
Peppercorn has grown incrementally over the year, but it’s location on Pearl Street puts it right in the heart of the Boulder’s shopping district. In the summer, about 60 percent of the customers are tourists, but that drops down to about 30 percent in the winter. “We love Pearl Street. There is no other place in town we would be. This is Boulder, this is where we have to be.”
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