Friday night is usually one of the busiest times of the week for eateries. Yet, on Friday, January 19, HoneyBaked Ham, the new Bedford Stuyvesant branch of a beloved Midwestern and Southern franchise, sat nearly empty.
The low foot traffic on this night was disappointing but not unusual for the store’s owner, Romles Gibbs. According to Gibbs, the store on Fulton Street hadn’t seen much business since its opening in September 2017. Giving the brand’s popularity in the Midwest and the South, Gibbs wondered what was keeping Brooklynites away?
But that night, curiosity led one person through HoneyBaked’s doors: Super Foodtown Co-President Noah Katz.
Katz was on his way home from his Super Foodtown store, but being that his car was parked in front of the HoneyBaked Ham store, he decided to pay a visit. Speaking with a cashier, Katz learned that the store’s owner was around and the two struck up a conversation, from “one entrepreneur to another,” as Katz said. Gibbs told him about the store’s surprising lack of patronage, and Katz, who also serves as the treasurer for the Bed-Stuy Gateway Business Improvement District, offered the BID’s marketing assistance.
“The BID can help you with a plan,” Katz said to Gibbs. “But why not start right now?”
He suggested they create a promotional video on the spot.
“He whipped his phone and his stick right out of his bag,” recalled Gibbs. “In fact, if you look at the video you’ll see I still have the hat ring from the hat on my head.”
In the nearly seven-minute-long video, Katz and Gibbs pitched HoneyBaked Ham to the people of Bed-Stuy. Gibbs, a lifelong Bed-Stuy resident, introduced himself to the neighborhood and talked about the company’s reputation of having “the world’s best ham,” even offering visitors free samples of ham and turkey. The video ended with Katz reminding viewers to shop local and, most importantly, to share the video. “Let’s make this go viral,” Katz signed off.
While the video hasn’t gone ‘viral’ yet, it has nonetheless picked up a respectable 9,000 views and 208 shares on Facebook in the past week alone. Viral or not, Gibbs thinks the video was a success. He said that throughout the week new customers have been coming in mentioning the video.
“I’ve got more traffic from the little video we did than anything else that’s occurred so far,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs is now working on HoneyBaked Ham’s grand opening on March 17. Until then, he said, he is still searching for the right words to sell the store to the Bedford Stuyvesant community.
As for Katz, he said that he is talking to the rest of the BID board about a plan to duplicate the HoneyBaked Ham video and scale it up for the other businesses in the community.
“I have a genuine desire for all businesses to do well, especially the ones in the business corridor,” said Katz.
Watch Gibbs’s and Katz’s video here:
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