SOURCE: Cookin' Stuff

January 29, 2008 16:42 ET

35 Years & Still Cookin'; South Bay Landmark Thrives in Competitive Retail World

TORRANCE, CA--(Marketwire - January 29, 2008) - In 1973 Torrance resident and avid cook Jeanne Kaats couldn't find a store carrying Chinese Woks. Proving the adage, necessity IS the mother of invention, Jeanne opened her own store, Cookin' Stuff, which coincidentally stocked woks and a few other hard to find cooking-related products.

"In the first couple years we had so few products, I used to spread them out on the shelves to make it look like we had more than we did," says Jeanne. "My friends were the first customers."

Thirty-five years later, Jeanne and her daughter Stacey continue to run one of the most successful specialty cookware and bakeware stores in Southern California.

No "inventory" problems these days, as Cookin' Stuff now carries over 25,000 cooking and baking-related products and operates an 11,000-square-foot retail location in Torrance.

"Mom created our store slogan, 'IF WE DON'T HAVE IT, YOU DON'T NEED IT,'" says Stacey. "We carry all the regular kitchen-related products, but specialize in hard-to-find gadgets. We've carved out a successful niche."

As national chains continue to dominate the retail landscape, stand alone stores like Cookin' Stuff fight an uphill battle for the consumer dollar. "We keep an eye on the competition like Williams Sonoma, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table and the big department stores," Stacey added. "We try to stay a step ahead of of the big boys, but it's never easy."

In an era of specialization, requirements to work as a store sales associate could be considered old school. "All sales associates cook or bake, know our products and treat customers like royalty," says Stacey. "Without sounding too corporate, we sell the shopping experience at Cookin' Stuff. Customers browse for hours. We've actually named some of our aisles after long-time customers."

Despite three decades of retail success, Stacey knows e-commerce is a major part of Cookin' Stuff's future as website sales have grown considerably the past 5 years. ( now features over 2,500 hundred products, changed seasonally.

Cookin' Stuff is located at 22217 Palos Verdes Blvd in Torrance and open daily from 10 am until 6 pm. Call (310) 371-2220 for more information.

Additional photos and store owner interviews available upon request.

Contact Information

  • Please contact:
    Hugh K. Malay