New Chamberlain kitchenware store found opportunity, not challenges, in pandemic
Berry + Basil, a kitchenware store in Chamberlain, opened their doors just weeks before the pandemic peaked in South Dakota, but the co-owners found the challenges not to be disruptions.
CHAMBERLAIN — For Cindy Peterson and Angi Hanzlik, cooking isn’t work. Rather, it’s a way to bring family and friends together.
“We remember as children — some of the best times with family are around the table and in the kitchen,” Hanzlik said. “We want to be able to spread that and give people the confidence and tools to cook and entertain and carry on those traditions.”
The pair opened up Chamberlain’s newest kitchenware store, Berry + Basil, in October 2020, just weeks before COVID cases peaked in South Dakota, and residents were staying home more.
“It was one of those things where we realized everybody was home cooking, everybody was spending more time with their families,” Peterson said. “They were appreciating all the things that take place around the kitchen table.”
Peterson and Hanzlik felt that after the retirement of the owners of a multi-generation hardware store, which also sold general kitchen equipment, Chamberlain had a hole in it. Residents of the area were driving to Mitchell and even Sioux Falls to buy kitchen supplies.
Since Hanzlik had already owned a property on Chamberlain’s Main Street, the pair decided they would work to fill that hole.
“It was just kind of a crazy set of coincidences that Angi and I both realized there was an opportunity there in her property,” Peterson said. “We were joking around and I said, ‘Someone should have a kitchen store here’ and she said, ‘We should do it.’”
The team began transforming Hanzlik’s old photography studio into Berry + Basil, which now carries a wide variety of basic and specialty kitchenware for customers.
In addition to pots, pans, utensils and knives, the store carries dozens of specialty olive oils, vinegars, wines and seasonings, and even linens.
“Pretty much anything that you can think of that you might need, we have it, and if we don’t, we’ll find it,” Hanzlik said. “If there’s something that somebody wants, chances are there’s someone else that wants it, too.”
The pair acknowledged that opening a new brick and mortar store in 2020 came with challenges. Peterson and Henzlik couldn’t travel to kitchenware expos or meet with distributors to see and feel products they considered carrying in their store.
“A lot of our research was online, and based on what we had in our kitchens,” Peterson said. “We also had great support from other kitchen store owners and some of our sales reps. They were seeing a great trend in people cooking more and cooking at home.”
Hanzlik, however, said those challenges weren’t enough to stop the two from achieving their goals.
“There weren’t really many complications,” Hanzlik said. “One of the blessings of being in South Dakota is that we were able to open it, at all.”
Peterson said the Chamberlain-Oacoma Area Chamber of Commerce and the South Dakota Retailers Association have both provided great resources for helping the business connect with resources to navigate their mid-pandemic opening.
But the community, above all else, is what makes their business work.
While Berry + Basil has hosted private events in the past, future plans aim to increase community engagement. The store is working on wine tasting and meat-and-cheese pairing events, aiming to bring in people from the community to get a feel for their store.
“We’ve just been incredibly blessed with the reception of our community and surrounding communities of people wanting to come in,” Hanzlik said.
Peterson said that Chamberlain is known for being a welcoming community, and that has played a role in the store’s success.
“It’s very uplifting to know we’re reaching so many people who enjoy us being around,” Peterson concluded.