If Katie Dawes wouldn’t put it in her home, she won’t sell it to you.
Fortunately, Dawes said, she loves just about everything.
Kitchen Kaboodle has been a staple of downtown State College for more than three decades, and Dawes has been the owner for 30 years. She was there for you when you went to school, had a wedding coming up and when you bought a house and needed something new in your kitchen.
There’s a lot to celebrate about the past 30 years, Dawes said, but most of all the customers. The store’s monthlong 30th year celebration is geared toward consumers and features an opportunity to win more than $1,700 in prizes.
Q: Why did you buy Kitchen Kaboodle in 1987?
A: We just had the opportunity through the folks that owned it prior to us. I had been in retail prior to moving to the area (and) I worked for a big department store that was a hometown department store. I worked there for nine years, had the retail background, went to Penn State and graduated from the College of Human Development in fashion merchandising, if you can imagine such a thing. My retail was more in clothing. But we love to entertain. We love to cook, so that experience (made) it an easy decision for me.
Q: What was your vision for Kitchen Kaboodle?
A: I think the vision was selecting products that I love and things that worked. It’s a part of me in terms of textiles that I love, glassware that I love, dinnerware that I love, and I love everything. That’s the problem. And I really learned about cookware and tried to fine the best or top of the line from vendors, partners and manufacturers.
Q: Did you ever imagine you’d be here in 2017?
A: You know, the time has gone by so quickly that I don’t ever think about those 30 years. I take Route 45 to Spruce Creek and home, and I have seen that road for 30 years. I think (now) about the drive and 12 months a year, and I don’t ever think about it. That’s something with retail or owning a business — your life goes by twice as fast. You barely get through spring and then you plan Christmas. It’s a calender of marketing events that always keeps you looking to the next celebration or holiday.
Q: Why do you feel you’ve had longevity for 30 years?
A: I always tell my associates it’s like being at a cocktail party without the cocktails. This is really an extension of my home, so even the people who work here or associate with the business are a reflection of me. So, I don’t entertain here any different than I do at home. ... It being 30 years, we’re really celebrating our customers. There would be no celebration without them. I think it’s the faithfulness of the folks downtown and surrounding areas that want to see us continue on. It’s the folks that were students, that are alums now that go away and come back for a conference or a festival. They came back and say, “I just had to see if you’re still here.” That just happened this past weekend. I make friends here on a daily basis and no day is the same.
Q: How do you separate yourself and your business from corporate stores?
A: You have to pay attention to your inventory. There are things I have to have and want to have. You could buy them at Target. You could buy them at Bed Bath and Beyond, probably the same price. But for the balance of the store, you have to know the market, set the trends, be leaders. I’ve got good partners in my manufacturers, so I have good representation from them. You have to be one step ahead, and we’ll carry unique things that no one else has. You have to constantly be reinventing yourself.
It’s (also) really important to pay attention to your customers. I also still think if I buy something I love, then I have a better chance of sharing it with others and selling it than just buying what someone tells me to buy. If I wouldn’t put it in my home, then I wouldn’t put it in somebody else’s. I think you have to be true to that.
Q: What does it mean to you to celebrate 30 years with your customers?
A: It’s a great feeling to be able to celebrate their commitment to the shop and to be able to work with our manufacturers to have wonderful prizes to give away at the end of the month. The business couldn’t be here without them, so it’s really a reward to them.
Q: How do customers get an opportunity to win a prize?
A: We have everything from fun gadgets to giving away a beautiful knife cutlery set. We’ve got baking gifts, coffee gifts, something for everybody. They can come in the store, fill out an entry form, put it in the box and then we’ll have a drawing at the end of the month.