“Name and title (if you prefer to be anonymous, say so or just use your first name):
Jerry Bilek owner
Name and location of business (again, you can be anonymous, or indicate the kind of business you own):
Monkey See, Monkey Read LLC
What, if any, business-related organizations are you a member of?
MBA(Midwest Booksellers Assoc.), NDDC
If you are a member, please say why you joined, what the organization does for you and the level of satisfaction you have with that organization.
MBA is great, they help me promote books & bookselling, their trade show is exceptional.
NDDC-they believe in downtown and so do I.
I am satisfied with both organizations and I believe both could do more.
How can organizations or other members of the Northfield community help businesses in the city?
60% off Northfielders do not shop downtown. we could do a better job of serving their needs.
How has the national economic situation and recent advances in technology, such as the Internet, affected your business, if at all?
the economy is tough right now. I’ve had a good year in spite of it. I think selling used books helps. people are looking for value.
Approx. 25% of my sales are through the internet.
Out of all the ways you try and promote your business, what produces the most results?
word of mouth is still the best.”
Sociale Gourmet Owner
Sociale Make and Take Gourmet
2010 Jefferson Road, Ste. C
Northfield, MN. 55057
Chamber Of Commerce
To be known in Northfield – The Chamber gives me the opportunity to get my name out there and let people know that I want to be involved in the community.
I believe that if more of us business owners collaborated together and partnered up for events or cross promote our businesses we may be more successful. It’s not easy or inexpensive to market our businesses individually and this could ease that cost and show that we want to support our community together.
The national economic situation has been a very difficult struggle in my business. People these days (or any day) are looking for affordable ways to live, and not necessarily a convenient way to live. Sociale is a convenience that people don’t want to spend money on. What people do not realize is that they are getting a healthy, good portioned meal that is convenient but also affordable. Our meals run roughly from $4.75 per serving as low as $3.15 per serving, depending on your family size. The meals are not wasteful – meaning you have not wasted money on ingredients that you would buy only once, let expire and throw out. It’s a convenience in that you don’t have to think about it, pull it out of the freezer or fridge and read the easy instructions on how to make it. Walla, you’re done! I hope that people realize that the time they spend with their family is important even with the crisis that is going on, and that maybe Sociale could be the way to go for them.
Not sure about the best way to advertise, this business is tricky, I’d say word of mouth is probably the best. I advertise in the Northfield News, I send out emails to current customers about sales and specials, and I advertise on the back of the Cub receipts as well. I have found that the Cub receipt has been very good too! I also have a Refer a Friend program where if someone refers a new customer the referee gets a free meal. I have Frequent Foodies cards for my customers to keep coming back. I have done many “shows” as well to get the product and name out there. I’m going to try a new method here soon and that’s direct mail, I hope that proves to be better.”
“Gerry Mahowald – Owner Operator
1500 Clinton Ln
I am a member of the Northfield Chamber of Commerce. I joined because I thought there were many benefits to being part of the network. The chamber helps get my name out in the community and plans ways to further develop and grow Northfield area businesses.
The best thing organizations and other members of the Nfld community can do to help businesses is to patronize them! If they have a good experience – spread the word. Most community members do not realize how much of the local tax burden is picked up by its businesses (I rent my store and pay close to $12,000 a year in property taxes).
As far as the economic circumstances affecting my business – in the last few weeks it has been very slow for me. The internet has helped to a degree as a lot of buyers seek to educate themselves better and seek higher quality items.
My most successful marketing tool has been word of mouth. Being small, I can give more personalized service to the customers and that has brought in many referrals. Inserts in the newspaper are my next most effective marketing tool.
I think Northfield could help could increase it’s business by promoting all of the benefits of buying local. Our leaders need to make people aware of the benefits (and there are many) of shopping locally.”