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Turned a New Griller on to Steve

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Post Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:47 pm
Cactus1 well done
well done

Posts: 748
Location: Indian Head Park, IL.
Went to local Half Price Books today for a ice cream recipe cookbook. We bought a new ice cream maker today. A Cuisinart that has a compressor instead of having to pre-freeze the bowl. I am going to be an ice cream making fool! Hope there's enough room in the freezer! Move over Ben & Jerry! We have a bunch of recipes and know there are hundreds more on the 'net, but I still like books. Bought "The Joy of Ice Cream" by Mathew Klein and "Scoop - 125 Specialty Ice Creams from the Nation's Best Creameries" by Ellen Brown.
Anyway, I'm looking over the barbecue and grilling books - every now and then I find something good that I don't have. Young guy 19 or 20 walks over and says to me ... "Have you ever heard of some guy named Raichlen? I've heard he's pretty good." A new griller who had just gotten his 1st Weber kettle. We talked for about 20 minutes and he bought used copies of "Barbecue Bible" and "How To Grill". Think he paid about $12 for both books. "How To Grill" has always been my "go to" grilling book. I refer to my copy frequently and am willing to bet that I've bought over 20 copies since 2001 to give as gifts for friends and relatives. I recently had to buy a new copy for myself when I went to my bookshelf and mine wasn't there. Realized I had lent it to a guy at work about a year ago and left the company before I got it back.
I ended up buying new copies of "The Totally Chile Pepper Cookbook" by Helene Siegel and Karen Gillingham, Ted reader's "King of Q's Blue Plate BBQ" and "Wicked Good Barbecue ..." by Andy Husbands & Chris Hart with Andrea Pyenson - Forward by some guy named Steve Raichlen. Spent $17 for all three books.
* IHP Cactus Farm & Sauce Shack *
18 1/2 & 22 1/2" WSM
22 1/2" OTS
26 3/4" OTG

Post Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:47 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5865
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
Something similar happens to me from time to time - I'll be out looking at grills and I'll hang around in the cookbook aisle (right by the grills) and browse through a few of Steven's books. Next thing you know I'll wind up talking to someone and eventually I'll wind up convincing them to buy the book. :D

The time I recall best was a few months ago. I was in Lowe's checking out their grill lineup and wound up talking to some of the staff while at the same time taking a good look at their grills (by taking them apart to look at the burners, usually). This drew a bit of a crowd as it sometimes does. By the time I was done I'd sold 3 copies of the BBQ Bible, 3 copies of How To Grill, 2 WSMs and 2 Weber Genesis 4-burner grills. One guy accounted for over a third of that as he bought one each of the above (he was outfitting his new house and deck).

Not bad for a guy that was just browsing around for a bit more grilling gear. I left with some ManClaws and a couple bags of briquettes. :D
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Sat Jul 06, 2013 12:22 am
Cactus1 well done
well done

Posts: 748
Location: Indian Head Park, IL.
CharredGriller - Think Lowe's needs to hire you in their grill department. I'm actually probably going to local Lowes, Menards, and Home Depot next week to fill out applications. I'm currently unemployed and almost 38 years in my industry, I'm not real sure that it's not time to cut back and look at alternatives.
I would really like to look at opening a full service barbecue supply store - grills and smokers, charcoal and wood chunks/chips, sauces and rubs, books and accessories, demonstration kitchen and outdoor area for classes. I would orient to the backyard guy. Be selective when I choose suppliers. There is only one of this type of store in the entire Chicago area and site areas that I'm considering are 35 - 40 miles away from infringing on him. I have four site location areas in mind and two specific sites that I might look into next week. I've thought about this for several years and might be good time to act. I have a basic business plan as I've jotted and refined ideas over the years and would just need to put it into a formal format. Stumbling blocks might be zoning and lease restrictions - I've called on a couple places over the years and when I looked at zoning and lease restrictions for them it was prohibitive - and available financing, although I've learned recently that SBA has monies available to help people in my position and age group. I'll be checking into SBA next week.
Going back to Lowes, Menards, and HD ... We were in local HD yesterday and I'm talking to the guy that was helping us and mentioned something about experience as most people I've dealt with at these places are very knowlegeable. He told me that some experience helps but is not necessary. They all have training programs and continuing education. Usually start out part time 20 -30 hours per week, pay in the Chicago area not great but usually $13 - $15 an hour, and can earn more over time and full time earn a little more than part time. Plus they have pretty good benefit packages. This could be just about what I want to tide me over until Social Security "kicks in" in a couple of years.
* IHP Cactus Farm & Sauce Shack *
18 1/2 & 22 1/2" WSM
22 1/2" OTS
26 3/4" OTG

Post Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:50 pm
Steven Grilling Guru
Grilling Guru

Posts: 282

Pleased to be of service. Thanks!

Post Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:10 pm
ScreamingChicken BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 7500
Location: Stoughton, WI
Nice job, Cactus! For someone just starting out those 2 books are tough to beat. Did you point him this way as well?

CG, maybe you should get a side job as a demo guy for grill products!

Post Sun Jul 07, 2013 7:45 am
Cactus1 well done
well done

Posts: 748
Location: Indian Head Park, IL.
Yes. He came looking for Steve's books and I knew used copies were on the shelf. Can't imagine anyone giving up a Raichlen book.
Mentioned in my comment to CharredGriller that I might go to Lowes, Menards, and HD this week and put in applications. Grill department is where I'd like to work if I do.
* IHP Cactus Farm & Sauce Shack *
18 1/2 & 22 1/2" WSM
22 1/2" OTS
26 3/4" OTG

Post Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:52 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
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Posts: 5865
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
I wouldn't mind doing some part-time work for a place like Lowe's, except that they're a big-box store and that's quite restrictive. Plus, up here in Canada I don't think the sales floor staff makes a commission, so the pay (in Canada) is quite awful. It sounds like it's much better in the U.S. but Lowe's up here pays several bucks an hour less than a night shift at McDonalds.

Sounds like you gave a good plan already for a BBQ specialty store, Cactus1. It takes a ton of dedication and good business sense to run a store like that (plus enough financing to carry you through a good couple of years when starting up). But on top of that, knowledge and dedication are the big things.

I used to shop at one of these in my hometown but I abandoned it. The owner was a good guy and pretty knowledgeable, but he made the crucial mistake of handing things over to a manager to run the day-to-day business. That manager and the staff she hired just didn't have the dedication to grilling that you need to have to run a good store - for most of them it was just another sales job and none of them ever got excited about their products.

Plus, the staff didn't learn about any of their grills, short of the basic PR dreck the suppliers sent them. In fact, the last time I was in there, none of them had ever cooked on any of the grills they sold. In fact, 4 of the 8 staff didn't grill regularly at all. How do you successfully sell grills and gear like that if you don't at least have an idea what you're selling?

Their in-store marketing was bad too - heavy on cheap gadgets and gimmicks and lean on actual books and grills. It would have been nice to see a Father's Day promo with at least a few grilling books regardless of whether they were Steven's, Ted Reader's or whoever's. But once again, these guys didn't have a clue. The smartest guys in the store were the two guys in the back who built the grills, but for some reason they weren't allowed out on the sales floor (where I bet they would have excelled).

I hope the BBQ specialty store idea eventually works out. Judging from what I've seen locally and in the big-box stores, we need more of them. At least there are a few pointers above on what not to do. :D
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:01 pm
Cactus1 well done
well done

Posts: 748
Location: Indian Head Park, IL.
There is only one full service barbecue supply store in the Chicago area and it's about 40 miles from my house. This area could definitely support another if not more. Many big box, hardware, and discount, even grocery stores carry grills and charcoal and a few limited supplies. I'd orient to the backyard enthusiast with a knowlege and desire for a little higher end product and full service.
Think I have the business savvy to operate this type of business. Big key is the quality of people that you hire. Think I would look at older experienced people who at least understand the difference between grilling and barbecueing, maybe looking to supplement a pension or social security, primarily. With a demonstration kitchen and outdoor demonstration area, leasing and zoning restrictions come into play.
I would want to be financially stable enough, from day 1, to be able to sustain for 3 years. I would either "make or break" in that time. Small Business Administration would come into play. I've been told that there are grant and low interest loan monies available for people in my age group (I'm 61) and employment situation (currently unemployed). We'll see as I progress through a written business plan, financial considerations, and location restrictions.
* IHP Cactus Farm & Sauce Shack *
18 1/2 & 22 1/2" WSM
22 1/2" OTS
26 3/4" OTG

Post Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:17 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5865
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
Cactus1 wrote:
There is only one full service barbecue supply store in the Chicago area and it's about 40 miles from my house. This area could definitely support another if not more. Many big box, hardware, and discount, even grocery stores carry grills and charcoal and a few limited supplies. I'd orient to the backyard enthusiast with a knowlege and desire for a little higher end product and full service.
Think I have the business savvy to operate this type of business. Big key is the quality of people that you hire. Think I would look at older experienced people who at least understand the difference between grilling and barbecueing, maybe looking to supplement a pension or social security, primarily. With a demonstration kitchen and outdoor demonstration area, leasing and zoning restrictions come into play.
I would want to be financially stable enough, from day 1, to be able to sustain for 3 years. I would either "make or break" in that time. Small Business Administration would come into play. I've been told that there are grant and low interest loan monies available for people in my age group (I'm 61) and employment situation (currently unemployed). We'll see as I progress through a written business plan, financial considerations, and location restrictions.


Wow - looks like you've got it planned out really well! Good luck, and I hope this works out! :D
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:05 am
ScreamingChicken BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 7500
Location: Stoughton, WI
Looks like you've really done your homework, Cactus! So many people just jump into business ownership without doing enough research....

Post Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:55 pm
Cactus1 well done
well done

Posts: 748
Location: Indian Head Park, IL.
Thanks guys. I'm busy with some other projects right now but organizing thoughts on paper to put together the business plan + still need to do the SBA research to see if it's practical. Then we'll start scouting locations and doing local zoning and leasing restrictions research. Probably be for the start of the 2014 barbecue season before being up and running if this all turns out to be feasible.
* IHP Cactus Farm & Sauce Shack *
18 1/2 & 22 1/2" WSM
22 1/2" OTS
26 3/4" OTG

Post Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:28 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5865
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
Cactus1 wrote:
Thanks guys. I'm busy with some other projects right now but organizing thoughts on paper to put together the business plan + still need to do the SBA research to see if it's practical. Then we'll start scouting locations and doing local zoning and leasing restrictions research. Probably be for the start of the 2014 barbecue season before being up and running if this all turns out to be feasible.


Well, if you also happen to start up an online store with good prices and shipping to Canada I know a few folks up here who'd be interested in shopping at it. That would be non-UPS or Purolator because they tack on a ridiculous Customs fee. :D
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:56 pm
Cactus1 well done
well done

Posts: 748
Location: Indian Head Park, IL.
CharredGriller - Would need to get up and running before even thinking about international shipments. I'm ex-FedEx and I think they'd be comparable to UPS.
But thanks for reminding me ... If I ever get to the point where I can make this happen, I'll also need to think about a web site and making connections with Barbecue News, Smoke Ring, etc. I do have some rough ideas for graphics and logo. Like Hooter's, I even have a pretty good pre-history to use.
* IHP Cactus Farm & Sauce Shack *
18 1/2 & 22 1/2" WSM
22 1/2" OTS
26 3/4" OTG

Post Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:50 am
Attrill well done
well done

Posts: 663
Location: Chicago

I've definitely turned a few people onto How To Grill and BBQ Bible myself. For years those two books and Julia Childs' The Way To Cook have been my favorite cookbooks (among the MANY that I've read). I've recently added Seven Fires to the canon as well.

Let me know if you open a store in the Chicago area. We could definitely use it, and I'll certainly come by!

Post Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:11 am
Cactus1 well done
well done

Posts: 748
Location: Indian Head Park, IL.
If this would get off the ground it would probably be early 2014 before opening. I know there is a need in the area. Only full serve barbecue supply that I know of is Backyard Barbecue in Wilmette. It's a great place and people are very knowlegable and friendly. I go a couple of times a year. I'd want to look in LaGrange or Willowbrook area or along the Rt 59 corridor in Naperville/Aurora or LaGrange Rd corridor in Orland Park.
Book that has my attention lately is "Wicked Good Barbecue - Fearless Recipes From Two Damn Yankees Who Won The Biggest, Baddest BBQ Competition In The World" by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart with Andrea Pyenson. These guys are way over the top and not hard to understand their success. I have an extensive, 60+, collection of barbecue and grill books. This is the first one that I am reading cover to cover since Mike Mills' "Peace, Love, and Barbecue".
* IHP Cactus Farm & Sauce Shack *
18 1/2 & 22 1/2" WSM
22 1/2" OTS
26 3/4" OTG


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