Mom and Pop Cookware Stores

My last book tour has taken me all around the country, to smaller independent cookware stores in smaller cities that I normally don’t get to, like Des Moines, Madison, Savannah, and Anchorage. Everywhere I go I am working for my book sales. I have learned from past experience that unless you do a cooking demo and give out samples, people are not inclined to buy your book, particularly in this day and age of downloading recipes from the internet. It is so much harder to sell a cookbook (even if it is a really good one) than it used to be.

On my prior book tours I appeared mainly at the large national chain cookware stores. I didn’t feel that I got the same attention and yes, love, I have received from the small guys. In Pittsburgh, KC Lapiana of In the Kitchen, not only bought ads to announce my visit, she also hand picked a wonderful new hotel (the Fairmount) for me to stay at, picked me up in a limo (not necessary but it meant we could all have a glass of wine or two) and took me out to a splendid Italian dinner. The event at her store was well attended and I sold a fair number of books, including a book for each and every one of her employees, which she paid for! Now, her example is a little over the top but basically I have felt well taken care of everywhere I have gone.

It isn’t only me who is well taken care of, it is also the regular customers of these stores and boy do these stores have regular customers. Most of the places I visited have been in business for years (up to 30 years) and have had the same employees for most of that time. Not one has suffered greatly from the recession and some have not experienced any down turn at all. What are they doing right? After my travels all over the country I think I have an idea. It is sort of like what makes a good restaurant, it is all about good service. The staff members are well trained and very knowledgeable about the cookware products and, moreover, they actually care about the store they work at, almost like they owned it. It reminds me of an experience my husband had at one of his favorite restaurants in New York (a little Puerto Rican place, called La Taza de Oro, Numero Dos, now closed – boo hoo!). He went in one day for lunch and a waiter came up to tell him about the menu. When the waiter finished he said something to the effect of, “Try our special today, you will love our food, I promise” and he meant it. He really really cared.

But the other thing these independent stores have going for them is selection. They stock far more pots, pans, and gadgets in every category than the big guys do or even the stores on line. And you can pick the items up, read the instructions, talk to a sales rep and make a well informed purchase.

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5 Responses to Mom and Pop Cookware Stores

  1. Linda Reagan says:

    Thank you so much for putting Anchorage on your book tour and I love the cookbook….recipes I have tried are delicious and can be prepared quickly. Come see us again.

  2. Richard Watman says:

    Sure hope you come back to Orange Tree in Madison. The book is terrific.

  3. Don Domingo says:


    Thanks a bunch for making a stop in Northern California ( S.F. Bay Area ) You are always welcome. The Red Carpet is always there for you and your family! Best wishes always… Your new cookbook is such a great reflection about you. I really enjoy how you include your family in your recipes. Blt/ fried catfish sandwich YUM YUM……

  4. Thrilled you made the stop in Pittsburgh! I have to admit, I wasn’t planning on buying your book because I thought I didn’t need yet another cookbook. But I was so impressed with your demo, I just had to get the book. The recipes have been great.

  5. Nancy Sorensen says:


    Thanks so much for coming to Madison! I was your waiter at L’etoile, and it was truly a pleasure. I’m always glad when I get a chance to give back to someone who’s given to me (albeit anonymously), as I cooked quite a bit out of Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, and always to rave reviews. I also think that the way you write and present the recipes is quite lovely and real; it’s part of the reason I found Cooks at Home so compelling. If you come this way again, I’d be happy to be a tour guide! and I’m excited to get started on your new book!

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