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Shop close to launch

Posted by Ben Lew on

The Rant

Writing blog posts are something I've been procrastinating time and time again, just something that's way out of my comfort zone.

The waves upon waves of delays on the renovation has created lots of frustration to say the least, however it got me thinking..instead of sitting around waiting for the contractors to finish the job, what are the things I can do.

That's when it dawned upon me that perhaps it's time to get out of my comfort zone and dedicate some time to writing blog posts, after all it's not something I can just pass on to someone else not familiar with the experiences and progress of Kitchin Tools.

So here we are now, if you're still here I reckon you have some interest in this blog at least so sit back, relax, have a cup of coffee/tea as I attempt to record my journey.

The Beginning

There have always been plans to open a retail shop for Kitchin Tools, however the pandemic certainly didn't help and the decision was finally made toward the end of 2020 to just make it happen. It took several months of scouting for the right location with some failures in between which I will not mention to avoid this becoming a book instead of a blog.

In short I have finally found a place suitable to call home (for now at least). Having no retail experience, it has been an extremely steep learning curve for sure. Through recommendations from friends, I have narrowed down an Interior Designer to work with, the renderings of which you see below.

The Shop Concept

I shared several ideas and concepts with Alexis Interior on how I'd like the shop to be and I must say the renderings do not let down.

Bright + Clean

I wanted the shop to be bright, clean and somewhat minimalist but not to the extreme. I intentionally went for more "traditional" materials and colours that were earthy/woody to have a subtle feel of sustainability which is something I believe is important. At the same time, I wanted to give it a modern feel, I guess something like an Apple store but with the vibes of traditional Japanese interiors.

Sharpening Counter

The inclusion of the sharpening counter was another idea I was insistent on having, I feel you can't sell knives without offering the respective sharpening services, much like selling a car without offering a car servicing option. The 5 x 10 sharpening stone holder (rendering wasn’t updated to reflect the final number) was inspired by a Japanese coffee shop in Tokyo (Coffee Mameya).

I wanted to bring more attention to the importance of knife sharpening and the simplicity or complexity behind it. A home user may make do with a 1000/3000 combination stone, a commercial kitchen would probably need a wider range of fast cutting stones, and knife polishers need a seemingly endless number of top quality stones (usually natural stones).

People often only think about the blacksmiths that forge the knife, however another equally important person that lives in the shadow is the person that sharpens and polishes the knife, we hope to bring more attention to the sharpener/polisher.

Every household would most certainly have a knife or more, not everyone needs new knives, but certainly everyone needs their knives sharpened from time to time whether they do it themselves or send it to be sharpened. With time I hope Kitchin Tools can grow to be a household name for one of (if not) the best local knife sharpening service.

Map of Japan

As all our knives are from Japan, it seems appropriate to include a map of Japan which will be used to illustrate where our knives come from, perhaps some customers have been to some of those places without knowing there to have an amazing blacksmith community.

Greenery

This is an area that needs improvement and will get improved over time. The bonsai adds a really nice touch in the rendering, however after consulting some bonsai experts, I learnt that bonsai will not survive indoors (our shop at least). That said, there will definitely be plants around the shop, I feel that it adds some life to the shop and creates a nice balance and warms up the place when paired with the wooden furnitures.

Snack Counter

Perhaps the most unusual move was the addition of a snack counter (a term I only learnt through my journey of getting the respective SFA license). As you can see in the rendering, there are just three counter chairs, which might just be unheard of for anyone in the F&B business. The effort required to make this happen is completely disproportionate to the F&B sales it can generate, thankfully my desire to include it was equally disproportionate to make it happen.

There are many reasons why I chose to include it, I wanted that familiar environment like that of a kitchen island counter where family members tend to gather for a quick breakfast, tea grab, midnight snack.

I also wanted a cozy and comfortable environment where customers can sit relaxed and have a good chat, be it about kitchen knives, sharpening or just about anything else actually. For those into ASMR, it can be quite therapeutic to listen to the sound of a knife being sharpened on a whetstone, which is exactly what you would be listening and observing from where you sit.

For the F&B offerings, we are keeping it really simple with the choices yet elevating the experience in whatever ways we can. Will keep the details for another blog post.

See You Soon

If you're still reading, wow thank you so much! This is my first actual long blog post and I hope to add one on a weekly basis so stay tuned for more!

Ben 

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