Andy Fadous is the co-founder and owner of American Provisions in South Boston, Mass. We caught up with Andy late on a Friday when he had been shopping for a new refrigeration unit, proving that ownership never rests!
Andy: My partner Matt (Thayer) and I were in the restaurant business for 10 years prior to this.
Culture: How did you find this spot? Are you from South Boston? Did you scout the area? Did you do a demographic study?
Andy: I’m from Michigan, but I had been in the area for 12 years. We’d both been here for a while. I went to UMass/Boston, which is just down the road in Dorchester. We knew the area well and when this opened up, which was just at the very beginning of the turnaround so the prices were still good, we jumped on it. I suppose if something else had opened in the area we might have gone there instead. I did do my own demographic survey of the area so we knew this was a good spot.
Culture: What has been your biggest success thus far?
Andy: Well, what defines success? I suppose some of our staff and supporters would say that it was winning the Best of Boston award in July 2013, which was really nice… But I would say hiring 10 people, giving them an environment to grow in.
Culture: What has been your biggest challenge?
Andy: Being innovative every day. Figuring out how to do things with limited resources. [nb, sounds familiar!] When you’re in the small business category, there’s no financing available. Banks aren’t willing to lend to small businesses. So we have to constantly find creative ways to hire and market ourselves!
Culture: How do you find new products, especially since they are local and small-batch?
Andy: I have to really give it to our staff, and my partner Matt who is the buyer. They go to events (FFS’s, festivals, markets), and this year we are getting involved with the ACS. We are also involved with the new Massachusetts Cheese Guild. Out staff is really fantastic about finding new products.
Culture: How do you market yourself?
Andy: Word of mouth. We have a website, but it’s really limited now. We’re looking at adding more social media marketing too.
Culture: What’s next?
Andy: Right now we’re a cheese shop with a little coffee offering. The next thing is to do a café with a cheese shop. Flip it around. But that’s hard to do because we’ve been looking for bank financing for this, and banks just want us to bootstrap that as well and we’re not really in a cash position to do that. So we’re going to a friends and family round of debt financing, looking for $20,000 loans that we can use to grow with.
Culture: Any advice for fellow mongers running a shop?
Andy: Stay with it. Work hard and continue to network and develop an educated consumer base. Just work hard and long hours.
To learn more about American Provisions, visit their website. If you’re in the Boston area, you can also stop by their shop at 613 East Broadway, South Boston, MA 02127.