This is the second installment in our blog post series, Retailer Spotlight. Over the last few years we have had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people and would love for you to get to know them too. Meet Eileen Caplin Wysel and Ronnie Wysel, owners of Bobb Howard's General Store and Auto Repair, in New Hyde Park, New York.
Ronnie and Eileen
Tell us a little about your business. How long has Bobb Howard’s General Store been open? How long have you and Ronnie been running it?
Our business is comprised of our General Store and Auto Repair Shop.The repair shop opened on October 12, 1946. We always sold candy, etc. in our office which is now our General Store/office but slowly converted over to nostalgia starting in the 80s. We got rid of the cigarettes, lotto, newspapers, and other convenience items along the way, and now only have nostalgic candy, toys, and signs for the last 30+ years. I grew up in the business, and Ronnie joined our family business in 1976.
How did it get its name? Who chose the location and why?
Bobb Howard’s was named for my oldest brother, Bobb Howard Caplin, who was born 9 months before it opened. Sadly, he passed away right after the 70th anniversary of the business he was named for. My parents chose the location for the business, loving the location on a main road in an up and coming community of the suburbs.
Were you always interested in owning your own business? What led you to this path?
I always wanted to be part of our family business and Ronnie and I were lucky to have it passed down to us by my parents. We consider ourselves blessed to be able to love what we do each and every day.
Do you advertise your business? If so, what works best for you?
We do very little advertising for our business. We have a nice following on Instagram--not a gazillion people, but those that follow us for the most part are there because they like our content, and not necessarily for a return follow. Our best advertising is “word of mouth.” We are very lucky that people tell other people about us.
To what do you attribute your success/longevity?
We have always attributed our success and longevity to making each customer feel important whether it’s for a large auto repair or a nickel piece of bubblegum. Honesty, integrity, and cleanliness are of utmost importance to us. We are not the most expensive or the least expensive. We want people to “feel at home” when they are on our premises.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
The best advice we would give someone just starting out: Really LOVE what you do!!!
Will you be attending any trade shows this year to seek out the latest and greatest products?
As for trade shows, we are slowly planning to possibly start attending them later this summer. We are very lucky that many vendors approach us, especially with what we call “new-old stuff” to ask us to relaunch it in our store and we are very honored to do so.
What makes your store stand out, makes it unique?
We are told that our store stands out because of our niche of nostalgia and our friendliness and willingness to go the extra mile for our customers. We don’t sell just candy and toys--we sell memories.
How do you decide to carry a line/product?
Our store is very small--400 square feet--but it is packed from floor to ceiling with fun stuff from childhood. If a manufacturer prices their item fairly, we will include it in our store. There have been products that we would have loved to carry, but were priced for what the manufacturer perceived was a “nostalgic value” instead of a “realistic value” and we would not purchase them. We do not carry toy guns. We only carry things that will hopefully bring joy and smiles to people…conversation starters among the generations.
And now a few just for fun
What’s your favorite candy?
My favorite candy: red shoestring licorice
Ronnie’s favorite candy: chocolate ice cubes
What are some things you enjoy doing with family and friends?
Multi-generational family baseball games are our favorites!!! We are die-hard (and long suffering Mets fans)! I love “window shopping” for new business ideas and knitting. Ronnie loves skiing, kayaking, and ice skating.
Is there a movie or TV show that you find uplifts or inspires you? Maybe one that just makes you laugh?
We love watching Blue Bloods, especially the dinner table scenes.