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Small Business Spotlight: Chisholm’s Grocery

Business 17 Aug, 2023 Follow News

Small Business Spotlight: Chisholm’s Grocery

By: Flynn Bush

Anyone who has driven to Cayman Kai or Rum Point, whether resident or tourist, has undoubtedly noticed Chisholm’s Grocery on the waterfront side of the road, near the Hutland junction. In fact, for 69 years the business has been a fixture in North Side.

Originally started as a ‘Mom and Pop’ operation by Will and Ida Chisholm, the business is now in the hands of a third-generation family member and has grown from strength to strength throughout the years. Chisholm’s is indeed a prime example of a business done right and it has flourished because of that.

This week, we had a chance to speak with the current owners/management. We were primarily concerned with how the business has fared since the lockdown, and how it is doing during the current season. This was a refreshing experience as every answer offered to our questions was further confirmation of the worth of this establishment. Below is a transcript of the interview.

Since the island opened up to visitors, post-pandemic lockdown, how has the business fared?

“The return of visitors/tourists to the island has resulted in steady progress in the level of business with the peak season of 2022 showing levels above pre-pandemic business.”

How is the business this year compared to last year?

“Business for the first 6 months of 2023 is up substantially from the first 6 months of 2022 as the first 6 months of 2022 was only the beginning of the reopening to visitors.”

What strategies or approaches have you taken to ensure the business remains viable?

“The owners/operators through 69 years this 13 August 2023, starting with “Mr Will” and “Mrs Ida” Chisholm, and following with Rhoda Erena Ebanks (nee Chisholm) to the present operator,  have always considered and treated customers as friends. Whether it was Mrs. Ida and Mr. Will giving credit, or Nana letting late-night arriving tourists have goods until they could return with cash (before credit card acceptance), to today’s operator‘s policy of “The customer always comes first” (not ALWAYS RIGHT but ALWAYS FIRST), the best way to ensure a business remains viable is to continue to build on the heritage of the hard work of those before, and a genuine appreciation of the customer.”

What is the key to a successful business?

“The operators of Chisholm’s Grocery believe that success can be defined in as many ways as there are businesses. However, they believe there are a number of keys, again depending on one’s definition of “success”.  Some of these are: First, being able to stand on the shoulders of those (Like Mrs Ida, Mr Will and Nana) who invested their entire lives in sweat equity. There is no overnight success; perseverance is a key to success. Secondly, learning and accepting change in the business environment surrounding you. Third is never taking for granted the customer, your workers, or the inheritance/legacy you are to continue. Finally, and most importantly, the operators of Chisholm’s Grocery believe that there is no single “key” and they believe that the most important key to their definition of success is, “A good reputation is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1).

How has the summer been for the business? Has there been any slowdown? If so, to what do you attribute the slowdown? Is it because of the tourist off-season, the economic situation here in this country, the steady rise in the cost of goods, and of conducting business in general? Or is it Something else?

 “The summer invariably almost always shows a slowdown for Chisholm’s Grocery with less visitors but, with a good customer base of locals, Chishom’s Grocery hasn’t seen any dramatic slowdown, compared to, say pandemic-lockdown or even pre-pandemic levels. Chisholm’s Grocery has endeavored to keep price increases to the bare minimum and customers have responded very positively.”

Is there anything else that you would like to share about Chisholm’s Grocery?

“The owners wish to express their deep and sincere appreciation to their customers, whether they are decades-long faithful local customers, or the first or repeat tourist customers, for their patronage over the past 69 years (13 August 1954). They know that, in the part of the words of Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata” (Things desired), “… Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.”

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