Business Person of the Month: Phi Thuy Nguyen of Agame Yoga

Agame Yoga & Meditation Center, LLC

635 S. Acadian Thruway

Baton Rouge, LA   70806


Phi Thuy Nguyen

Founder and Owner, ERYT 500.

Yoga Nidra Facilitator & Trainer, Meditation Teacher.

Destination Method & Professional Coach.

Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant, Professional Speaker.

Retreat Leader, Life Balance Expert.

Ambassadors of Light, Inc. 501 ©(3)

Phi Thuy Nguyen

 Founder – Owner – Instructor – Board of Directors
E:  phi@agameyoga.com
P:  (225) 636-1891

 

Phi Thuy Nguyen is a free spirit at heart who now enjoys and appreciates grounding and structure, enabling her to experience her lightness of being within the details of her life.

In 2008, Phi founded Agame Yoga & Meditation Center.  The studio is located at 635 S. Acadian Thruway.  As of June 1, 2016, ownership passed to a non-profit organization she founded, Ambassadors of Light, a 501(c)(3) for purpose organization.

Phi leads yoga classes and workshops and conducts yoga and yoga nidra teacher training at the studio.  She works with clients privately, engages in professional speaking, and creates online training content.  She is deeply inspired to guide others to innovate their minds and life beyond conditioned, limiting beliefs and habits to create a life that is unique and authentic to each individual.  She wants each person who comes to the center to experience their own “different kind of happy”.

“Yoga is a practice to experience a different kind of happy, practicing yoga cultivates an inner state of happiness not conditioned by the external happenings of life.  This is the true power of yoga and meditation.  Our inner well being is really available all the time when we know how to reconnect to it,”  Phi explains.

When asked how people may reach their “different kind of happy”, Phi says, “I would tell people to begin caring how they feel.  If we simply pay attention to how we feel and care to feel good in our bodies, in our minds, and in our lives; this awareness will guide us to making the choices that support the good feelings.

“We are so caught up in bus-i-ness, stress, and worries, that we don’t pay attention.  We all want to feel good and ‘to be happy’, but because we are so busy, we do not make this a priority.   We need to pay attention to how we feel and care about how we feel.  We will be guided to the choices, actions, and relationships that support our happiness.

“When you decide, ‘I want to care about how I feel, and I want to feel good’; then you shift your thoughts to the positive and come back to being who you are meant to be.  Caring how you feel will guide you to make the changes that support good feelings.”

Phi believes in staying connected to one’s inner source and being guided to the next step.  She says, “My overall intention was to heal myself and help others experience their own healing.”  She has received so many gifts and transformations on her path and the journey continues to reveal itself.  For her, each step has been revealed as she was ready.  She says one just needs to be willing.

When asked about her personal yoga journey, Phi explains, “I have done yoga on and off a long time ago but I approached it as a point of exercise and could not stay motivated.  I began my journey of meditation, growth and spiritual connection in 1998 after the birth of my 2nd child.  I was the Small Business Banker as well as the Assistant Branch Manager for a bank. I loved the connection with people and the opportunities to help them.  When I had my 2nd child, I quit my corporate career and became a stay at home mom.  I did this for myself; I wanted to look for sustainable happiness.   I knew something was off even though we had a house, cars, and all the material possessions.  We had the outward abundance my parents had taken the risk of escaping Vietnam and coming to America to give us.  Inside, I felt there was still something missing.

“This was when I started my conscious journey, a conscious journey to finding a fulfilling happiness different from the pursuit of things.  I realized I had been conditioned to believe happiness was the accumulation of more and more things.  This journey brought me to my meditation teacher, Venerable Aggasami.  I came back to the practice of yoga as part of my care during my 3rd pregnancy.  This was when I realized yoga was actually meditation in motion, and how beneficial it was emotionally and physically.  I felt so good during this pregnancy and recovered from my birthing experience so quickly; – I dropped down to my pre-pregnancy weight in one month – I was so impressed by the results, I decided to become certified to teach yoga in 2003 when my daughter was born,” Phi says.

After becoming certified to teach, Phi taught yoga all over Baton Rouge.  She taught at several YMCA’s, BRCC, LSU leisure classes, then at the Women’s Wellness Center.  “I was teaching about 20 classes a week. Teaching at all these locations was too much; I needed to focus and deepen my own practice.  So when we had a chance to build our home, I decided to build a home studio so I could focus more.  Then I opened a studio with a partner in 2006 at Towne Center.  After leaving there, I went to Florida to further my studies with Yogi Amrit Desai.  I reopened my home studio in 2008, and moved to the South Acadian location in August in 2010.”

At the Agame Yoga and Meditation Center, Phi and other instructors taught classes and held retreats there.  In 2016, she gave the business to a 501(c)(3) for purpose non-profit organization she founded, Ambassadors of Light.  She tells us, “My vision for Ambassadors of Light is to bring yoga and meditation and other integrative healing practices to children, battered women/single moms, to our veterans and to our aging population.”

Phi explains the purpose behind Ambassadors of Light, “We are all Ambassadors of the Divine Light that shines within each of us, and we invite you to shine your light and support us as Louisiana’s only 501(c)(3) for purpose and only full open contribution yoga studio! That means we want to support you in whatever way we can so you can touch your inner light and shine it forth to the world. We want to serve our underprivileged communities and bring some light where there may be difficulties and darkness. This is a community-wide effort, from the studio, from the teachers, and from our members and supporters.

“The goal is to make yoga and meditation accessible to all regardless of money.  That is why the studio is a full open contribution studio.  This makes us the only 501(c)(3) for purpose and full open contribution studio in Louisiana.

“I do not own the center as of June 1, 2016, Ambassadors of Light (AOL) does.  The Board of Directors run it; I am one of five volunteer board members.  The board is currently raising money to bring yoga and mindfulness to the children of Polk and FLAIM elementary schools this fall as well as partner with HYPE (Helping Youths Prepare for Excellence), a First United Methodist Church after-school program supporting the children of Bernard Terrace.  We also want to hire an executive director to further our efforts in reaching out to more schools, support battered women and single moms and give back to our veterans and aging populations.  The executive director will be the only paid person.  I will continue my private coaching and consultation, lead workshops and trainings, conduct retreats, create online content and serve on the AOL board.

“I want to help people connect to the feel good place that is within them.  That is why we founded the nonprofit, to make services available to others who cannot afford them.  The name Ambassadors of Light empowers each of us to be one another’s ambassador, to support each other on the journey.  The Light is the state of happiness and peace that is within us.  The studio offers full service open contribution classes, so people can come to enjoy yoga and not let money be a factor.”

When asked what advice she would give to others on starting a business, Phi says   “Do what you Love.  Be among empowered people who are living their authentic lives and living their lives as they want to be and not what they were conditioned to be.  The ‘thing’ is not what is important; it is the why that nurtures and sustains us.”

She advises everyone to “Know your why.”  She says, “Why do you want to go into business.  Let it be connected to your inner purpose; this will help you with the challenges you face and you will be able to move through the challenges more easily.

“I come from a place of healing and service, this is my why; it is to give back in a way that is empowering to people.  This is an expression of gratitude for the people who sponsored us all those 30+ years ago.  Through the Kindness of strangers, my families’ lives have been transformed.  It just so happens that my path is yoga and meditation, but it could be anything.  Your path may be owning a restaurant or another career path.  It is the ‘why’ that drives us to find the expression that is in alignment with who we are. Our ‘why’ supports and sustains us and we naturally want to give back.”

Phi’s family escaped Vietnam in 1979 and lived in a refugee camp for a year.  They came to America in the winter of 1980.  Her family was sponsored by the families in the town of Blue Earth, Minnesota.  She recalls arriving in Minnesota in the middle of winter.  “The townspeople met us at the airport and wrapped us in heavy winter coats.  It was a beautiful start to my time in America.  I was ten years old and began grade school in Minnesota, then middle school in Kansas.  We moved to Louisiana in the mid 80’s and I finished Middle School and continued on to high school in New Orleans and then Loyola University.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Phi says, “This quote, from Edith Wharton, is one of my favorite: ‘As ambassadors, we are holding the mirror up to reflect each other’s light.’”

Business Person of the Month: Lisa Pellissier of The Pink Elephant Antiques

The Pink Elephant

Hand painted sign by Mystic Blue Signs, out of New Orleans

Lisa Pellissier

2648 Government Street

Baton Rouge, LA.

225-387-8214

 

 

“Buying antique and vintage items is the ultimate recycling.  Items are being passed down and reused from generation to generation.”

The Pink Elephant, under the direction of owner-manager Lisa Pellissier opened in April of 2016 at 2648 Government Street.  The space was formerly home to Aladdin’s Lamp antiques.  It was purchased in the fall of 2015 by Pachyderm Properties, a real estate business owned by Lisa and her husband Albert Pellissier.  The Pink Elephant is currently a multi-dealer antiques mall with twenty separate booths and dealers.  There are plans to add a consignment furniture shop in the building next door after renovations are completed. They hope to bring in an artistic or musical venue for the building that was Tipitina’s Music Co-op.

Lisa says, “My husband and I are in the real estate business.  We heard the buildings and property from Ragusa’s car repair to the end of the block were coming up for sale.  We live right around the corner in the Garden District and felt this was a good fit for us.  I had a booth in Aladdin’s Lamp antiques for several years so I had experience with the antique mall and knew how it worked.  I enjoyed the experience and looked forward to reopening the mall.”

“I currently manage the mall and have a booth there.  The Pink Elephant has a nice mix of items for every taste.  Each dealer has their own booth and they are responsible for stocking and pricing their own inventory.  The store policy is “cash and carry”, however, 30 day lay-away is available.  The items are old and fragile so there is a ‘no returns’ policy,” Lisa says.

“We have a dealer with hand painted and stenciled furniture, several booths carry vintage clothing, one booth is mostly vintage jewelry and one dealer’s specialty is old books.  We have several booths with original art; one artist incorporates old images into her art, others are original pieces.

Some booths have antique furniture and others have vintage items.  Throughout the mall you will find collectibles and knick-knacks for sale from various periods and many unique items for sale.  I specialize in mid-century items, 1960’s and 70’s.  I am always on the lookout for unique items for my booth as well as period pieces.  As a dealer you pick things that you think will sell but all your items tend to reflect your own taste.  You don’t buy stuff you don’t like,” explains Lisa.

“The main challenge of running a co-op business like the Pink Elephant, is working with twenty unique shops and owners.  Each booth dealer has their own space and makes their own decisions.  We give them a space to sell items or do their own thing.  They each have a vested interest in keeping the business open and running and want to keep customers happy and coming back.  Two dealers are always on site to run the store, work the cash register and offer assistance to customers. The dealers enjoy being there; they stop by to see what is happening and check their booth inventory.  It is a fun place to hang out.”

As a child Lisa was always interested in garage sales, estate sales, auctions and going to antiques stores.  She grew up in New Orleans where estate sales and auctions could be found almost every day and antique malls and shops and flea markets are everywhere. She has always loved “old stuff” and the history attached to them, i.e. where did it come from, who owned it, where has it been and how did it survive this long?  She feels old stuff is “a lot cooler” than new stuff.  New items of furniture have the “off the assembly line” look and feel; older items are unique and have character.  The fact they have survived this long shows they are well made and more solid than newer furniture.

Lisa came to Baton Rouge to attend LSU; she majored in horticulture and accounting.  She started her career in horticulture but found the South is not a good place for an outdoor business due to the heat.  When her children were in school full time, she looked into starting a business and decided to open a booth at Aladdin’s Lamp Antiques.  Lisa found she liked searching for items to stock her shop and then selling them.

“We look for inventory all over – estate sales, auctions, flea markets, etc.  Some individuals will come to us and say I’m clearing out my house; we will go to people houses and look through their items.  We buy items we think we can sell, we do not do consignment.  People are always asking for dressers, end tables and lamps, so we are always looking for these” Lisa says.

Lisa would like to see the Government Street “re-do” happen.  “The City was talking about it last summer, now it may be next year.  The Mid-City district is full of people walking to stores and restaurants in the Mid-City area.  Improving and repairing the street would aid in growth of the area.  This road repair would be a boon for all the merchants on Government Street.  There is a lot of growth and new construction happening now and more scheduled for the future with the businesses along the street,” Lisa explains.

Businessperson of the Month: CP Hospitality

Business of the Monthcp logo

CP Hospitality   

by Anne Lemmon

CP Hospitality is a multi-concept restaurant group that specializes in creating unique, house-made products and using them throughout different culinary platforms. Over the span of two years, CP Hospitality has grown from one restaurant, City Pork Deli and Charcuterie, to include City Pork Brasserie & Bar, and City Pork Kitchen & Pie.

City Pork Deli & Charcuteriecp deli   

225-300-4550

M-F 7am-9pm

Saturday 9am-9pm

Sunday 9am-3pm

City Pork Deli and Charcuterie opened its doors and smokehouse in December 2013 at 2363 Hollydale Ave under the Perkins Overpass.  It was a good beginning; the Baton Rouge magazine 225 awarded them “Best New Restaurant” in 2014.  In that same year, they were also featured in several other cultural, travel and tourism-based publications throughout the region.   As a gourmet sandwich shop, City Pork mainly focused its attention on producing house-made meats and unique condiments for their sandwiches.  They also now feature salads and a few appetizers on the menu, and all of their sides are made from scratch.  Another area of focus for City Pork has been their Charcuterie boards, which feature their specialty meats, artisanal cheeses and City Pork’s homemade pickles, which quickly became a customer favorite.  The restaurant also features a deli case with everything from local favorites such as boudin, tasso, and andouille, to European specialties like confits, pâtés and dry-cured meats, all of which are showcased on their Charcuterie boards.  Recently, City Pork Deli and Charcuterie has launched its “Take-home Tuesday” program, which offers a complete, home-cooked to-go meal for a family of 4.  This has proven to be a great addition to the City Pork offerings, especially for the neighboring Southdowns and Garden District neighborhoods that the Deli serves.

City Pork Brasserie & Bar                   cp brasserie

225-615-8880

M-Th 11am-9pm

Friday & Saturday 11am-10pm

Sunday 11am-8pm

Continuing to grow and expand their business, City Pork Brasserie and Bar opened at 7327 Jefferson Highway in 2014, in the building formerly occupied by Dempsey’s restaurant.  Continuing with its scratch-made tradition, City Pork Brasserie and Bar features an expanded menu including appetizers, entrées, a full-service bar, and, of course, City Pork’s famous Charcuterie boards.  Whereas the Deli is a fast-casual, order-at-the-counter restaurant, the Brasserie is more of a full-service dining concept featuring everything from the classic “Big Pig” sandwich that made the Deli famous to creative dishes like “Rabbit and Dumplings” and “Shrimp and Boudin,” City Pork’s spin on the Louisiana classic Shrimp and Grits.  City Pork Brasserie and Bar also features an interactive, open kitchen and a “Charcuterie and Cheese Bar” where customers can dine and interact with the staff, asking questions and educating themselves about some of the unique products on the boards.

City Pork Kitchen & Pie   cp kitchen

225-248-6453

M-F  6am-2pm

In 2015, CP Hospitality opened its 3rd concept, City Pork Kitchen and Pie, at 6721 Exchequer Drive in Industriplex Subdivision, off of Seigen Lane and Airline Highway.  This concept is a southern-style kitchen featuring a full breakfast menu and blue-plate style lunch specials.  This location also specializes in homemade pies, with an extensive list of sweet treats that change weekly and can be bought by the slice or whole.  Similar to the Deli, the Kitchen also features a deli case, and serves as a retail outlet for the specialty cured meats that City Pork offers at their other locations.  Though it has only been open for a few months, City Pork Kitchen and Pie proved instantly to be a “hit” with all of the employees working in Industriplex subdivision, while still bringing in customers from all over Baton Rouge!

Currently, CP Hospitality has been focused on building up City Pork Catering, a full-service catering company that offers anything from quick office lunches to wedding receptions to whole hog roasts, onsite barbeques and tailgates.  Through their catering operations, CP Hospitality is also offering unique “Chef’s Table” dining experiences, and can accommodate any size group from 1 to 100.

City Pork’s reputation has grown by leaps and bounds since their beginning.  After the Deli won 225’s “Best New Restaurant” in 2014, they were crowned “Best Bar-B-Q”, after being 1st runner up to TJ Ribs in 2014, and also “Best Sandwiches.”  Following the lead from the Deli in 2014, the Brasserie was also crowned “Best New Restaurant” in 2015 and the Kitchen is on the ballot for the same title in 2016.  In fact, the City Pork family of restaurants have a total of 11 nominations for 225 Magazine’s “Best Of” competition!  Among several other awards and regional acknowledgements, the Brasserie also caught the attention of The Food Network and appeared on the Season premiere of Burgers, Brew and ‘Cue’ in January, 2016.

Continue reading Businessperson of the Month: CP Hospitality

Businessperson of the Month: Kerry Beary of Atomic Pop Shop

Atomic Pop ShopIMG_1074

Owner, Kerry and Jeff Beary

2963 Government Street

(225) 771-8455

Kerry Beary and her husband Jeff have owned The Atomic Pop Shop since May 2011. Before that, they were selling records and other vintage goods out of spaces rented in local antique stores; when the space in the Ogden Park area of Government Street opened up, they jumped at the chance.

Neither has a background in music. Kerry has a master’s degree in fine arts, and her husband has a master’s in communications, “but we both love records, and we always collected records,” said Kerry. “It was something that, you know, to do something you love in your daily life, it was kind of a natural thing.”

The couple moved from New York after 9/11, where Kerry worked as a teacher and painted and drew on the side. “I wanted to have a space where I could showcase it, and found that here.” Much of their collection was drawn from record shows and yard sales after the vinyl crash of the nineties. “It got harder and harder to find records, so you had to seek them out in other places.”

“We never approached it as, we’re opening a record store. We’re opening a vintage shop, and we just happen to sell records. And it’s just kind of developed into, or morphed into, more of a record shop, because the demand has asked for it.”

Even so, the Atomic Pop Shop still isn’t just a record store – an expansion in 2013 gave them a performance space, which features all-ages shows of local and touring bands almost every weekend. Kerry also uses the space as an art gallery, and they’ve set up a couple of vintage arcade games just for fun. They feel that it’s important to create a space that will help build the community, particularly via all-ages live shows. The store sponsored the Ogden Park Prowl, providing all the live music, as well as Midcity-area events like the Art Hop and White Light Night. They hope to do so again this year.

Baton Rouge is a great place for this kind of community-focused event because, Kerry says, “People like to stay home more, and if they can do things within their community, it’s a bigger incentive to get out and do things with their family. I also think people take a lot of pride in where they live, so it’s something that, if you can show off your neighborhood, and show not only that you have these wonderful things going on with your neighbors, but you can also draw in things from the outside that make it interesting, it does nothing but showcase your neighborhood and make people want to live there.”

When asked about the best way to start developing an interest in vinyl records, Kerry said that it was important not to be afraid to spend money. “You get what you pay for. So if you’re going to invest in records, which, just like anything else, costs money, they’re a little pricier than CDs, but the sound quality speaks for itself. […] What’s the point of buying something that’s supposed to sound amazing and sounds like you’re in a tin can?” There are a lot of cutesy brands out there – she refused to name names, but if you’ve ever been to Urban Outfitters before, you may be able to guess – that focus on style and aren’t as worried about quality. The players don’t cost much, but they’re also not likely to last very long, and poor-quality needles can actually damage records: the death knell for a serious collection. The best way, she said, was to try to find an older turntable, “the older, the better”; they tend to be higher quality. “Spend the money. Do it. Do it now, and you don’t have to worry about it.” Atomic Pop Shop will repair vintage turntables and other forms of older audio equipment, and will make digital copies of analog home recordings.

“I think that anyone that has ears, just like anyone who enjoys comic books, they’re going to want quality in what they’re doing. When you collect something, even if you feel you need to have this because it may be worth something someday, that’s great, but the majority of our customers, they just want the music.

“You know, and I feel that over the last, maybe even just the last three years, the majority of our customer base was eighty percent men. It’s started to change. We’re about sixty-forty now, which is pretty sweet. I like that. I like that a lot. Because, you know, why should guys have all the fun?”

“We don’t need to stand here and judge.”

The Bearys are also interested in preserving local music artists, and have found that the library is a great resource for research. The Main Library, which hosts the Baton Rouge Room’s local history collection, is barely a few miles away. Kerry often sends dedicated collectors there for background information. “It’s a great place to sample music or to listen to something that I don’t have. When I was a kid, the library had records,” she laughed. “We do send lots of folks to the library to help them find rare, hard-to-find information, [but] a lot of it’s unwritten, and a lot of it gets lost as folks get older.”

“And that library is just gorgeous. Even if you don’t have a reason to go to the library, now you do, because it’s just beautiful.” (We think so, too.)

“We’ve got a huge local section here that we are very proud of. Because, you know, everyone’s related to someone that sang a record, in Baton Rouge, or performed on a record, because there’s so much history here. Cajun music, and zydeco. It’s a very close connection. Unfortunately, lots of people throw them away, because they don’t think they’re valuable anymore. They don’t understand that they’re throwing away a piece of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, history. These are local labels, local artists, that you would never hear of anywhere else.”

“I think that owning a business is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Harder than teaching, harder than getting through college. Because it’s so much minutiae, and so much unexpected stuff, and having a building, and dealing with all of that – but always striving to stay true to our mission, which is basically a comfortable place where people can come to chill out. Listen to music, chat a little bit, play some pinball, play some Pac Man, you know, just browse around, maybe learn something, and share it with people.”

“Kindness is just the way to do it.”

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Business Person of the Month: Jeff Herman of Tiger Deaux-Nuts

Tiger Deaux-Nuts

Owner, Jeff Herman

5162 Government Street

225-421-1091

“Fry it and they will come”

td1

td2Jeff Herman is out to make Baton Rouge a better city, a half-dozen gourmet Deaux-nuts at a time.

“If you ever want to start a business, don’t think how hard can it be, just think it’s going to be the hardest thing you ever do in your life,” Jeff advises.

Jeff graduated from LSU with a degree in management and a concentration in entrepreneurship and small business.  His plan was to start and build small businesses as his career.  Jeff says, “I used my business classes to write a business plan and a start up plan.  I got a working capital loan, used my savings, and had some help from my parents.  It took me five months, and a significant investment before I could make my first doughnut.  This is the definition of insanity.”

The donut shop idea came to Jeff one Sunday morning.  He wanted a donut and the nearest available shop was Mary Lee donuts with standard donut fare.  Jeff realized Baton Rouge lacked a quality specialty donut shop and there were no donut shops near campus.   He had found his idea, a campus-area shop featuring gourmet donuts.  Jeff says, “This was a needed business venture I could execute on reasonable investment.   ‘How hard could it be to build a better doughnut shop?’ ” He found out.

When Jeff began the process of turning an idea into a business, he found it is a long and expensive process.  He turned to current innovative donut shops for ideas and inspiration, such as Voodoo donuts in Portland Oregon.   “They were innovative, but not culinary unique.  Voodoo is not just a donut shop; they made donuts fun and interesting.  They gave the donuts names and decorated them to be remembered; you remember which donut you ordered there,” Jeff says.

They created a brand, something Jeff wanted to do in Baton Rouge.  You would go out for “the donut” not just a donut.  Jeff wanted to go for quality, not convenience.  He wanted to put thought and creativity into his product. The experience should be fun and ‘rememberable’.  I want everyone who takes a bite of my doughnuts to say ‘wow,’ to think about what they’re eating. That’s what any good food should be.  You remember the name of the store and the product and want to go back.”

“When I set out to start Tiger Deaux-nuts, my dream wasn’t to wake up at 3 o’clock every morning to make donuts; my dream was to build businesses.”  Jeff opened his Tiger Deaux-nut shop in 2012 on Jones Creek road.  He was only open on Saturday and would sell out of donuts by 9 or 10 o’clock.  His plan was to open full time after building a customer base, and developing a product they wanted.   Jeff managed to bootstrap his startup Tiger Deaux-nuts into a thriving, yet almost secret, grassroots business.

The Deaux-nut flavors include bacon-maple, key lime pie, peanut butter and chocolate, bananas foster, apple pie, mint chocolate chip, vanilla jalapeño, s’mores and red velvet cake donuts. Some seasonal flavors are pumpkin spice, orange cranberry pecan and white chocolate peppermint.

“I was not reinventing anything, not creating a new product; I was taking something that’s outdated and putting some effort, and thought, and creativity into it. Consumers want lagniappe, they want something extra, and they’re willing to pay for it too,’’ Jeff says.

Jeff always had the idea to have his shop in Baton Rouge areas where people are forward thinking, and people in the neighborhood match what he was thinking, yet they geographically lack a donut shop.  In January, 2015, Jeff realized his long-term goal to move closer to his customers.  He moved his operation to 5162 Government Street in Mid-City.  He is now located in the building formerly known as Phil’s Oyster Bar.  He is open from 6:00 AM to noon Tuesday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday and closed on Monday.  Now he has space where he can brew coffee to pair with his Deaux-nuts.   The relocation also allows him to have an expanded breakfast menu, space for customers to “eat in”, and the possibility to expand his hours and his menu.  Jeff wanted to add something to bring people in without compromising the product he already has.  He created a breakfast sandwich; it comes with boudin, bacon or sausage, egg and cheddar cheese on a fried crispy Deaux-nut bun. The boudin is made in house.  Jeff says, “We are probably the only donut shop that makes its own boudin.   It has been very well received by our customers.  We could brand our business with it.  ”

Jeff has learned the demand for donuts falls as you get closer to lunch.  For lunch people want protein and sides so it is not financially feasible to be open all day.  He wants to continue to build the business and learn what he can offer on the menu to bring people in all day.

Jeff says, “My business is better since I stopped being the baker.  It’s really taking off.  I knew that it would; Baton Rouge is a culinary town.  I have the greatest staff in the city, two full-time staff and one part-time.  One is a pastry chef and the other has over a decade in top restaurants. We are a great team, we work well together, and our strengths complement each other.”

When asked about starting his business, Jeff says, “You always need a plan in place in the back of your mind, I need to know where I want to be; what I knew five years ago changes.  Some of it is learning as I go, growing up as I go, what is realistically important to me now may not have been when I started.  I’m changing my plan as I go. I am taking opportunities as they come.  Tiger Deaux-nuts has grown into something that does not fit the plan I originally had.”

When asked for advice on starting a business, he compares it to running a mile.  “Starting a business is like running a mile; it is not what you envision.  You drive a mile and say, I can do this, you envision it in your head and then you start running.  You take a few steps and say ‘This is easy’, then you get into it and it becomes hard, you become fatigued; the reality of running is not what you expected.  Do I have the motivation to finish?  Some people trip and never finish the race; you must adapt and keep running the mile.  The ones who start a business and make it work are those who push through and finish.  You can’t plan for everything when you build a small business.’’

Jeff is a member of the Baton Rouge area chamber, but is currently not very active.  He is still learning how to balance running the business and doing other things.  He has found there are a lot of things that need to be done for the business when it is not open.

When asked about the future of Baton Rouge, Jeff says “I started my business here; I stayed after graduation from LSU because I believe Baton Rouge has a future.  What I have seen as progress and growth in the city since I have been here is pretty unbelievable.  I can be an example of someone who wanted to stay.   As long as the city provides the fundamentals, Baton Rouge can grow and become a first class city.  The vision for the city will match what is happening, there is a lot of work ahead of us, and this is a very exciting time for Baton Rouge.”

On libraries, Jeff says, “Baton Rouge has one of the world class library systems in the world.  For Baton Rouge to grow and progress as a city, these resources are very important.  We need to catch up to other cities and surpass them.  It is fun to come to a library like this.  I came as a child but not so much as I got older.”

“The library system gives a community an opportunity to grow and move forward.  It is a place to meet people and is a great community center.  I am excited that the library continues to grow and has plans for a new facility downtown.  The library continues to plan for the future, for the new trends, digital books, computers, 3D technology and who knows what else is in the future.”

Jeff says, “I went straight from graduating to running and building a business.  Taking a full time job out of school would have been selling myself short and I might have become too comfortable to move on.  I am happy with where I am now; I enjoy what I am doing.”

Jeff tells us the Maple Bacon King cake will be back on Jan 2, 2016.  He recommends you place your order early because they sell out fast!

Business Person of the Month: Shauna Nicosia of Smooch My Pooch

WELCOME TO SMOOCH MY POOCH

smp logo

Central’s premier doggie daycare, salon and boutique!

“Dogs are not our whole life but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras

Owner, Shauna Nicosia, poses with a client.
Owner, Shauna Nicosia, poses with a client.

 

18235 Magnolia Bridge Rd.
Greenwell Springs, LA 70739
(PHONE) 225.262.6061
(FAX) 225.261.4484
info@smoochmypooch.com

Smooch my Pooch is Central’s premier doggie daycare, grooming salon, overnight boarding facility and boutique located in the Central/Greenwell Springs area.   The business is owned by Shauna Nicosia and she successfully runs it with the help of her sister Shelley Black, her mom Robyn Parker and a wonderful caring staff.

Ten years ago, Shauna’s sister Shelley, with the help of her parents, purchased a mobile grooming van. Not only was she the first in Central to offer the service, but the first in the Baton Rouge area. It was a huge success.  Working in the mobile van became difficult with the birth of her first child so she sold the van.  Having been born and raised in Central, Shauna’s family saw a need for a dog grooming salon. “So my mom, my sister and I said, ‘Let’s do it!’ ”

Smooch my Pooch opened its doors in 2007. Shauna explains, “We opened up a smp groomingone groomer salon and a small doggie daycare. Eight years later we have expanded into so much more. We have 3 certified full time groomers, 3 large indoor/outdoor play areas, overnight and extended stay boarding, and the ever popular U-Shampooch.  Customers can bring in their dirty pooch and we supply the rest.   We have waist high tubs, towels, shampoos, colognes and more. We also have a great boutique with treats, apparel and lots of LSU items.”

The daycare for dog’s service they provide has been well received by the public.  “The principle behind doggie daycare is simple” says Shauna.  “We provide a safe and healthy atmosphere with lots of interaction, both with other dogs and with people. Dogs can participate in group play, gnaw on a favorite toy, hang out with humans, or just lounge and watch television. The point is that they’re not at home alone.

“Doggie Daycare allows your pet to play and socialize with other dogs. It is a safe place for your pet to be while you are at work or during home maintenance, pest control or cleaning person visits. It prevents hours alone that can result in separation anxiety, destructive behavior and boredom.  You can view your pooch on our webcam anytime and anywhere.

“Smooch my Pooch has grown so much in the last 8 ysmp middleears, so much, so that we ran out of room. We built our own building, just down the road from our former location.   Our new address is 18235 Magnolia Bridge Rd., Greenwell Springs, LA 70739.  It is almost twice the size, and we opened in October, 2015.  It has 3 indoor/outdoor play areas, much more boarding room and 8 cameras so customers can watch their pooch while they play. We are very excited about this move and look forward to growing with this community for years to come.”

Shauna feels libraries have been an important part of her life.  She says, “As a child my mom always brought us to the Central library, it was just the little white building on Hooper Road.  I remember how exciting it was to have my own card and to sign the back. She would even bring us for the read-alongs and other activities. The building probably wasn’t bigger than 1000 sq ft but to me and my sister it was the best part of our day. We were home schooled for a couple years so the library was a huge part of our learning experience.”

“Now I read a lot of pet journals and magazines. I’m always looking for articles to improve my business, whether it is me as a boss, ways to make sure the dogs are happy while they’re with us, or ways to increase revenue. During this building process I’ve been able to purchase and implement a lot of the tools and ideas I’ve learned through these different magazines. I still mostly read paper magazines and books. I’ve tried reading online and I just get too distracted.”

Shauna is proud to be a small business in the Central community. The Central Chamber of Commerce presented Smooch my Pooch with the Small Business of the Year Award for 2014. “Not only was it an honor but it is something I try to work at every day. Small businesses are so important for this community because the members really do care and want to keep their money local. It is definitely our job to give them the best service we can so they not only stay but keep us growing and working!”  Shauna says.

“I’ve learned so much about myself over the last 8 ½ years. When we first started I was so concerned about the “business” aspect, I was missing the personal touch. I hadn’t learned yet what customer service really was. For us it smp endcould be as simple as going out front and helping someone in and out of the car with their dog or looking at pictures on their phone of a new puppy. It took me a few years to slow down and enjoy not only the dogs but their owners too.

“Of course we all have room for improvement but I tell my employees all the time even if you feel silly or don’t want to, ALWAYS greet and thank every customer. It’s just as important to them as it is to me.”

Business person of the month: City Gelato Mario Lozanov

Written by Anne Lemmon

 

City Gelato

Mobile stands are available for company events, birthday parties, wedding receptions, etc.  Call 225-819-7007 for details and prices.
Mobile stands are available for company events, birthday parties, wedding receptions, etc.  Call 225-819-7007 for details and prices.

Owner, Manager, Creator: Mario Lozanov

225-819-7007

City Gelato on Facebook

 

“Do what you love and the money will follow,” is Mario Lozanov’s motto.  He is putting this adage to the test with the creation and marketing of his gelato under the name City Gelato.  His long term goal is to go national and have City Gelato in stores across the United States.

 

Mario, an organic chemist turned culinary businessman, currently sells his gelato from three mobile stands and in local stores.  He opened his mobile gelato carts in the summer of 2014, appearing at festivals and parks around East Baton Rouge Parish.  City Gelato is now currently available at Calandro’s and Calvin’s grocery stores, Anthony’s Deli and Maxwell’s Market with more stores scheduled for distribution.

 

One of the mobile stands is currently open for business at the Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, Monday through Friday 11:00-8:00, Saturday 1:00-6:00 and Sunday 2:00-8:00.

Mario came to the United States from Bulgaria in 1996 to pursue his Doctoral degree in organic chemistry.  He chose Wayne State University in Detroit to study for his doctorate.  He says, “I received an offer to study chemistry at LSU.  I turned them down; I did not want to live in the south because it was so hot there.  Now, ten years later here I am, it is fate.”

 

Mario moved to Baton Rouge in 2004 to join Albemarle as an organic chemist.   After moving to Baton Rouge, he became interested in gelato through his friendship with the founder and co-owner of Bacio di Roma Italian Café on Chimes street.  When the Café closed, Mario considered buying it but realized that it would have involved a substantial time commitment and that the overhead was too high as well.

Look for these containers in local stores.
Look for these containers in local stores.

When Mario was downsized from Albemarle in 2012, he reconsidered opening a gelato shop of his own.  Finding a space and renovating it for food production would have been too costly; so in 2013, he applied to the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator to assist in developing his gelato for the market.  His plan was to start slow with the mobile carts, then go wholesale in stores.  He has met each of these goals.

 

To develop the process and make the gelato, he needed access to a commercial kitchen.  Mario began working in the commercial kitchen at the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator in December, 2013; the AgCenter leases time and space to small food businesses and provides assistance in taking a product from an idea to the creation of a commercial food.   The food scientists provide the expertise in perfecting the product and the business people help in completing the paperwork and permits needed to become a legal culinary business.

 

When he started selling his own creation, City Gelato, Mario was located at Red Stick Farmers Market in downtown Baton Rouge. He had been going to the market since he moved here 11 years ago, shopping and enjoying the booths.  He considers the market a home to him and his product and purchases locally grown fruits and ingredients from the market, when possible, for his gelato.  Currently, one of his three stands can be found at the Main Library on Goodwood.

 

Although gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, Gelato can be made with milk, cream, various sugars, fresh fruit, vegetables, etc.  It is generally lower in calories, fat and sugar than ice cream, (lower not free).  Mario began experimenting with various flavors and developing new ones.  He has the traditional flavors, such as chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, and plans to add birthday cake as a staple.  He is developing other local flavors, such as sweet potato and a purple and gold LSU flavor with blueberries and mango.City_Gelato3

 

 

When asked about his change in career direction, Mario says, “The first four or five years working for a corporation were great, and then it seemed to stalemate.  There were no challenges; it was no longer fun.  I started thinking of operating a food truck; I looked into bringing lobster from Maine to sell here.”

 

“Business is interesting to me; I never saw the other side of working.  As a scientist, I had a nine to five office job and never saw the other side that goes into running the business and selling the product.  I feel I was meant to do something everyone cannot do.  It is good to have a choice and be in charge of your own destiny,” Mario says.

 

Mario approaches the food market as a chemist, creating new flavors using the structure of the molecule, looking for a taste bridge between the main ingredient in his gelato, such as fruit, etc. and secondary flavors such as cinnamon or chocolate.

 

When I create a new flavor, I go through a process; I study things, what goes well together.   People request a flavor and I try to see if it is possible, I look into making it.  You need a molecular bridge between the fruit and spices; you can pair unusual items if you know the molecular structure of each.

 

Selling frozen treats from his three carts is hard work for Lozanov and his team of college students, especially during the fall and spring festival seasons.

“I like selling the gelato from the mobile stands, having the direct contact with people.  I see people stopping for a cup, it is a stress reliever, and they stop a minute from their busy schedule and relax.”

“It’s not rocket science …,” Mario said, “I just want to have a better impact on quality of life.”

 

Businesspeople of the Month: Denise Townsend and Reanna Townsend

by Anne Lemmon

Room For Dessertroom-for-dessert

Bluebonnet Crossing

9618 Jefferson HWY, Suite B

Baton Rouge, LA   70809

 

Denise Townsend – Owner, Store Manager

Reanna Townsend – Co-Owner, Kitchen Manager, Head Pastry Chef

Monday–Friday 8am-6pm
Saturday 8am–4pm

Shop    225.293.9886        Cell    225.921.9621

If you eat organic, then there is always “Room for Dessert”.

Denise Townsend and her daughter, Reanna Townsend, opened Room For Dessert on May 8, 2013, in the Bluebonnet Crossing Shopping Center at the intersection of Bluebonnet Blvd and Jefferson Hwy. Room For Dessert is an organic pastry shop that provides all type of pastries daily, as well as cakes by special order. They provide a variety of desserts that are gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, and Paleo on a daily basis, or you may special order other allergy-free desserts or cakes.

Reanna attended Orlando Culinary Academy in Orlando, Florida, after completing her BS at the University of South Carolina, where she garnered a 4-year track scholarship. After graduating with her degree in hospitality, she then worked for a few years in traditional bakeries in Florida and Baton Rouge but was never allowed to let her “passion run free”. Denise has always wanted to have her own business and Reanna wanted to be free to bake her own creations, not following traditional baking set down by other chefs. Only one other bakery in Baton Rouge was catering to special dietary needs in cakes and desserts and the two women saw a need. Denise, with the support of her husband, made Room For Dessert a reality in 2013.

When asked why she chose this business, Denise replied, “I worked for the state for many years but always wanted to have my own business. I tried selling cosmetics full time once and in 1981, my husband and I partnered with another couple to open the first Subway restaurant on the corner of Hank and Airline here in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge was not quite ready for Subway back then and we struggled to get it off the ground. So when my daughter decided that she really did not want to work for a traditional bakery, I thought, “Why can’t we try to open our own bakery business?”room-for-dessert-2

Together Reanna and Denise run the business. “I am the people person; I want to help each person find what they need and want. My customer service itch is strong. If you provide a good product, customers will tell others and bring in more customers.” Word of mouth is a strong means of advertising. Denise wants everyone to be happy with the product they buy. “If you don’t like it, let us fix it. Tell us what is wrong.” Reanna runs the kitchen; she is the expert on specialty baking. “She just wants to bake,” her mother says. She wants to provide an option for those who can’t have the traditional desserts or desire to want a healthier version.

They also sell organic coffee, tea, and organic hot chocolate. You may stop by in the morning for an organic pastry and cup of organic coffee starting at 8 am.

After being open a few months, Denise and Reanna added quiche to their menu for lunch, which is sold by the slice. These were added to the menu due to numerous requests from customers for a savory lunch item.

Cakes for special occasions require 24 hours’ notice and specialty cakes are made on request. They have made several wedding cakes, organic and gluten free. Birthday cakes designs can be cartoon characters, super heroes, sports figures, school insignia, or other special designs.  “Come in and tell us what you need or want, we will work with you,” Denise says.

All of the ingredients used in their baking are organic, from the flour to the eggs, extracts, milk, sweeteners, etc. Organic means no preservatives or chemically treated ingredients, unprocessed ingredients; it’s healthier for you. Baking organically is a real science. You need to know what to substitute when you leave processed and hydrogenated items out of the batter so you don’t compromise on taste or texture. Making items gluten-free is different. You have to learn to bake with gluten-free flour and to adjust your recipe; you can’t just substitute or swap out the flours and other ingredients.

When asked why they chose organic baking, Denise says, “the concept was all my daughter’s idea. She did not want to do traditional baking; she had done that for more than two years.  Her college roommate had a nut allergy and my father was diabetic, and my mother was lactose intolerant, so we were aware of special dietary needs and having to ‘do without’ certain foods.  Louisiana is ‘all about the food’; we love to eat; so we wanted to give people a healthy option and make desserts available to people with diet restrictions. Moderation is the key for being healthy, and with our specialty baking you can still enjoy eating desserts if you choose without compromising your health.”room-for-dessert-3

Denise points to herself as an example for eating organically and not gaining weight. She eats organically every day, including dessert at meals and monitors her blood sugar and her weight. She still wears the same size clothes she did when they opened the bakery in 2013.

When asked about opening your own business, Denise answers, “You must step out on faith and do something different, life is about taking chances; if you do not then you never know what might have happened. If you don’t live today, you may die tomorrow, and you haven’t enjoyed or experienced life.”

Denise was raised in the Morgan City area in a family of 11 siblings, and moved to Baton Rouge when she married back in 1976. Denise and Reanna are both athletic and believe in being physically active and eating healthy. Reanna and her brother attended Baton Rouge High and were standouts in track and field; both attended college on track scholarships at the University of South Carolina near their father’s family. Denise’s son is an artist and some of his paintings adorn the walls of the shop (and are for sale).

When asked about the challenges facing small business owners, Denise replied “One challenge is getting your name out there, and letting people know you are here and open for business.  The cost to advertise is so expensive and small business doesn’t always survive due to small advertising budgets.  My personal challenge is not being there all the time and taking time off for myself, allowing my staff to run the shop.”

She advises others to “believe in your product, check your competition, and get a good location. Always keep an eye on overhead, it can make or break you; learn from your mistakes. In the food business, we have to shop smart and check expiration dates. You should stick to your plan and what you know, believe in your product. Don’t forget to enjoy life. Stay balanced and don’t let the business consume you or you will burn out. I want to enjoy life; when your business becomes your life, you are in trouble. Small businesses need support or they go under quickly. It has been hard breaking into the Baton Rouge market, but we know that the need for our product is very important to those who want to stay healthy, so we persevere. With God all things are possible!”

“As one of the leading patisserie providers of organic desserts in the Baton Rouge area, we at Room for Dessert take pride in offering the highest quality ingredients in our products. Our dream is to become one of the leading providers of pastries and desserts that are sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, egg-free, paleo, and dairy-free, so that you can eat, enjoy, and be free.”

Lean In for Graduates Discussion Panel

Top Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg made a splash and started a movement with the publication of the bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. We’re taking a page out of her book and hosting another “Lean In” discussion panel at the Main Library at Goodwood at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday, May 27.

Our first panel in January was so successful, we’re bringing it back! Since May is graduation month, our panel will focus this time on advice for young people entering the workforce for the first time. There is a version of Sandberg’s book aimed specifically at graduates: Lean In for Graduates. The panel will feature a group of female leaders who will give their own interpretation of “leaning in” and advice for young graduates entering the professional world. The discussion will be followed by a question-and-answer period with the audience. Refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public, so we hope to see you there!

Panel members include:

Michelle Ginn-Daigre, test analyst lead, IBM

Roshonda Hanible, founder and CEO of Dominion Investments, LLC

Jisun Kim, postdoctoral researcher, Louisiana State University

Tara Montgomery Madison, attorney and partner, Kean Miller

Sara Moore, environmental scientist, CK Associates, and co-founder, Louisiana Women in Technology (LaWIT)

lean-in

Business Person of the Month: Dana Labat

written by Anne Lemmon

Owner:  Dana Labat

Capital City Recordscapital-city-records

4641 Perkins Road

Baton Rouge, LA  70808

225-603-6323

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 to 6:00, closed Sunday-Monday

“Feed your turntable!”

Dana Labat had the idea of owning a record store when he was in his teens but that idea faded as he grew older. This dream became possible for him when he retired, after a 35 year career working for the Shell Oil Company in Norco, LA. Dana opened the doors to Capital City Records in Baton Rouge on November 7, 2014. “I always have collected records; as people began to get rid of records, they would ask me if I wanted them. I would go to stores as they went out of business and find bargains and my collection continued to grow to around 10,000 records,” Dana says. “I figured this would be a good thing to do after retirement. With the renewed interest in vinyl records and increasing yearly sales, it happened to coincide with a point in my life that afforded me the opportunity to give icapital-city-records-2t a shot. I thought this would be better than sitting around playing golf. I can have my own record store, hang out, listen to music and beef up my own collection at the same time.”

Labat has always been interested in music. Like many enthusiasts, he can recall his first experiences with music. His first record was the 45 rpm recording of the Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” that his mother bought him. Since his youth, Labat has attended concerts and events that have helped build his catalog and his knowledge. In his earlier years, Labat, who was born in New Orleans and grew up in LaPlace, ran the LaPlace underground music hall Mad Club. “Naturally, when I was a teenager, that was my big thing, music and going to concerts. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve seen numerous bands back when a ticket was $4.”

Capital City Records, located at 4614 Perkins Road, near the intersection of Perkins Road and College Drive, actually opened before he was finished remodeling and painting the interior because people were walking in wanting to buy records. Dana says, “The one thing I was focusing on was finding a good location. I tried to design it so that everybody is comfortable coming in, no matter if you’re eight years old or eighty years old.” With exposed beams, a brick wall, and a mural painted personally by New Orleans artist Kristen “KAWD” Downing, the shop’s layout displays the entirety of Labat’s inventory.  Near the register, the colorful mural features iconic images of Elvis Costello, The Residents, Bob Marley, Frank Zappa, and Prince. “There’s not enough wall space to put all my heroes up,” Dana says.

capital-city-records-3Labat’s store joins two other vinyl record stores in Baton Rouge. For Labat, the shop’s true purpose is not so much to make a splash against its competition as to add to the city’s musical background. “I think what separates us is probably the stock we’re each selling. Every store has diversity of what they carry and what they’re able to find and put out for sale.”

“How can a new record store not be a good thing?” Labat said. “I mean, if you like records, you like the independent record stores, and the more the merrier, in my opinion. For a lot of years the folks didn’t have many, if any, choices in the Baton Rouge area. You had to drive to New Orleans to get your vinyl fix. But we’re getting to the point where we’re starting to compete with the amount of great record stores usually found only in larger cities.”

In an age of digitally compressed, portable music, more and more music lovers want the tangible feel of an album in their hands. The new trend in music is “something old”, a revival of vinyl records. Vinyl record sales have been dramatically increasing since 2006 after bottoming in the early 1990s. In 2013, there were 6.1 million sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks music sales.

The store has 20,000, and counting, new and used vinyl records, plus…45’s, CD’s, tapes, posters, T-shirts, turntables and more. Dana has the largest selection in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area. “We guarantee the lowest prices you’ll find anywhere. We have a large selection of vintage (best selection in the south) “NOS” – (New Old Stock) vinyl records. We literally have thousands of LP’s in stock now, from the 60’s through the 80’s that are still sealed; the vast majority are original 1st pressings.” Finding a record that is still sealed is like finding a Barbie Doll still in the box. Sealed records vary in prices depending on condition and what is included, such as posters and photographs. The value also depends on how many copies were made.  For example, most Elvis records are not that valuable because so many were sold. Dana has an original Buddy Holly album, 1st pressing from 1959 for $200.

“We stock all genres of music, from rock, alternative, punk, pop, blues, jazz and more. We also carry a huge selection of local (New Orleans) artists.”

“In addition to selling records, we trade and buy them. Bring your unwanted LP’s, CD’s and other music related memorabilia, and let’s make a deal. Our $1.99 bins are full of great finds at budget prices. Come in and go through them.”

“The biggest thing I notice is the amount of young people buying vinyl records,” he said. “Most of these kids grew up knowing only digital formats, like CDs and MP3s.”capital-city-records-4

“The fact is the digital era is here, whether it be music, movies or books,” he said. “But, I think there will always be a niche market out there for the vinyl format. Music has always been one of my passions; I have always liked the vinyl format for music. It is something tangible you can hold in your hand. You have 400 songs on an iPod, what do you have? You have great songs but nothing to show or trade. Four hundred albums is something you can hold and show to other people.”

“You’ve got all types of people, some are just collectors, and they do not plan to take the album out of the cover,” Labat said. “I have great, sealed collectible records that are worth money.”

When asked what he likes to read, Labat said, “I read a lot off the Internet while I am at the store, mostly trade magazines to keep up with the business. Record Collector and Gold Mine are two I follow. I like the record magazines from the UK.”

On the challenges of having one’s own business, Labat says, “It can be daunting at times. The key is making the customer happy, making sure they find what they want. Owning your own business is more work than you think it will be, even just selling used records. The hours are long, you have to deal with all the things that go along with running a business, every aspect, the employees, payroll, the permits, staying on top of the business. Every time you sell a record, you need to buy one to replace it and where do you get them.”

Dana invites everyone to stop by the store, say hi and check out all the great records and other merchandise. He invites you to “have a look around and be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates on new arrivals, in-store performances, sales, specials, and other events.”