Apr 20, 2023
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Imagine being in high school when the pandemic hit; suddenly, school is on your phone, and you’re left with infinite free time. Edgars Cers and his brother took this and ran, as they created Comfy Living Chicago.
Comfy Living Chicago is a local Chicago business that sells high-quality, affordable pre-owned furniture. What started as a side hustle turned into so much more as they learned the need on both sides of the business.
From garages to warehouses to even a storefront in just a few years, Comfy Living Chicago has seen great success. Edgars and his brother use a variety of tools on social media for marketing to their local community, especially video! He even shares how they leveraged a local influencer!
As they move forward in business, Edgars focuses on the economy, community needs, and how they can be a one-stop shop offering affordable home furnishing solutions to renters and owners.
As a young entrepreneur, Edgars is focused on learning as much as he can, like this advice from Tony Robbins; The growth of the business is dependent on the owner’s mindset.
Retailers, I’m rooting for your success!
- From side hustle to business.
- A solution for high quality, affordable furniture.
- Marketing strategies for local business.
- Should you use influencers for marketing?
- Solid business advice for any entrepreneur.
Mentioned In This Episode:
Crystal: In this episode of Rooted in Retail, we have another bonus episode. I am talking to Edgars Sirs, who I interviewed at the Las Vegas market in January, and this was originally interviewed for my other show, Crystal UN Corked. But I interviewed a retailer, the co-owner of Comfy Living Chicago, a furniture store in Chicago. And this, because he’s a retailer, we had to put it on Rooted in Retail. It fits so well here. And so I am wildly impressed by my guest because he is the youngest guest I have ever interviewed for a show. He is 18 years old, and you’ll hear me realize that throughout the interview because he started his furniture store when he was in class, but on his phone during c o. And saw an opportunity and started a business. And the whole time he was talking, I was thinking he was in college. I just didn’t even think high school. he’s a very, very impressive person. And in this episode, we talk a lot about mindset. He, I feel like Edgars has so much figured out for his age. I was just wishing that I knew what he knew when I first started my business at 21 years old. I feel like I’m just now kind of getting it, and he has a lot figured out. We talk about. The importance of relationships and who not how, which is such a big one. And I love what Edgar said too about Chat GPT, which we talked a little bit about technology, and Chat GPT at the end of the interview, he said, use it or let it use you and I can’t agree more. This is a great conversation. I loved it and I hope you enjoy it too. Be sure to follow Comfy Living Chicago on Instagram. They make some great content there in reels. You’ll get to meet Edgars through Instagram and follow along with his journey, and let’s dive into this episode. Welcome to Rooted In Retail, the show that’s dedicated to helping independent retailers thrive in today’s ever-evolving retail landscape. I’m your host, Crystal Vitis, and I’m thrilled to have you join me weekly as we explore topics that are vital to the success of your store from marketing to mindset. Money to merchandising. Sales to leadership will cover it all. Each episode features interviews with industry experts and accomplished retailers who share their real-life insights and actionable advice. Get ready for a great conversation on how to build your dream business with rooted in retail. Edgars, welcome to Crystal UnCorked.
Edgars Cers: I’m thrilled you’re here. Thank you. Yes, thank you. I’m like excited. This is so
Crystal: fun. Right? How has
Edgars Cers: market been? Awesome. My first time in market. Oh. but, yeah, many options. Great people and yeah. Yeah. What’s been a
Crystal: highlight for
Edgars Cers: you? Let’s see. I think the bedding, it’s always betting. Okay. It’s always fun to, it’s a fun job to try out mattresses. Oh, heck
Crystal: yeah. That sounds awesome. But then you’re walking the show. Yeah. And you, how do you get up? Like, I would want to just take a nap. Yes. You need that break. Okay, so tell me about Comfy Living Chicago, why you started it, and a little bit about the
Edgars Cers: business. Yeah, so my brother and I, and my buddy, we started by selling pre-owned furniture. started during Covid and we had our school on our phones and we were selling pre-owned furniture. Started with our garage and a storage unit. Transitioned into a warehouse and grew from that. And then, just recently we started looking at options for, mattresses and, furniture, just to have the consistency of quality. Okay. but still with the pre-owned sectionals to have that. High quality, but also, at affordable for people to, buy it. Yeah.
Crystal: Awesome. Okay, so you were doing school on your phone while launching this business? Yeah. Yeah. That is so cool. Talk about like, the world gets flipped upside down and you just kind of jump into innovating and creating. Yeah. I heard I was listening to another podcast. Somebody was doing something similar and it sounds like a really awesome, way to get into furniture with pre-owned. How I mean, what made you get into that in the first
Edgars Cers: place? Yeah. I started from kind of just on online, came across the idea, tried it out and after, after one really saw the potential, saw the needs on both sides of people either moving or up and or upgrading and needing to get rid of it. And then, People on the other end of looking to get that quality, but still not spending a fortune.
Crystal: Right, exactly. Okay. So you saw a need, you’re like, let’s do it. Exactly. Okay. Yeah. And then you then obviously that led you to having your storefront. Yes. In Chicago. Are you from Chicago? Yes. Okay. I love Chicago. That’s one of my favorite cities. and so what, how, from like a foot traffic marketing perspective, what’s, A lot of my listeners have retail stores. What’s been working for you lately to drive traffic in?
Edgars Cers: Yeah, for sure. we’re focusing on the social media, combining the social, like organic with the paid. one of the biggest things is for sure videos. we have not. We had to do more for sure, but it’s for sure a really personal touch of, you’re able to do the same thing as you would of just writing a blog, but just having your face on it person, personalize it and, explain a little more. Or if you had to show. Something. Just building that trust with the clients.
Crystal: Yeah. Which, so I peeked at your TikTok and Instagram. First of all, love that you’re on TikTok. Cause I, that’s the name of the game. Yeah. I feel like right now with organic content. And getting those views. And I love the video you did where you saw it in, into a Wayfair piece of furniture and we’re like, look, what’s it, I mean, it was eyeopening of the quality. It was awful. Yeah. People are just, I mean, I get the convenience side of going online and eating. Purchase something. Yeah. But there’s an expense with that for sure. And so I, how are of TikTok Instagram? I saw you have Facebook and I think Pinterest, what platform is working best
Edgars Cers: right now? Instagram. Okay. So surprisingly sometimes, because we have not done too, too much, obviously we’re new, new company, but, Yeah, some, after our first couple posts we had, we had foot traffic and just asking where they found us and this and that. We were just a little surprised. We were like, oh really? Instagram? It works. But
Crystal: yeah, it works. Yeah. Yeah. Do you do, are you using like local hashtags and
Edgars Cers: Yeah. Yeah. That we, so yeah, actually we’ve worked with one, local influencer, and from that had a couple sales and also just community building and that. Awesome. And yeah, just doing some things that you wouldn’t think that a furniture store would do, but really, our whole mindset around it is serving the outcome of the client. So it’s like, are you really just serving them? Kind of how Bob was saying in the seminar earlier today about what are you really, what business are you really in? And it’s like, it’s not selling them a chair, it’s selling them this, or it’s like, for us, it’s mostly selling them. The convenience and the easy moving experience to Chicago. So it’s like they get to Chicago, they’re going all over the place, and then they come to us and, you know, it’s a, it’s a nice setup and convenience top, top of mind for us.
Crystal: Yeah. And you’re able to showcase that through video. I mean Exactly. Yeah. It is probably the best way for you to do it. And I love that you’re thinking that way versus just showing product. You are stepping into the shoes of the customer a little bit. What is that exterior experience to communicate what you do, which is awesome. Yeah. So keep that up. Cause that’s going to keep driving traffic in. You mentioned working with an influencer, which a lot of our retailers have questions around that because some have, and it’s been great. And some have, and it’s, they’re like, I didn’t see anything from that. What do you, how did you work with your influencer and what do you think made it work well for you guys?
Edgars Cers: Yeah, so we worked with a local influencer. kind of what we were thinking was someone that aligns with us, obviously local was, right now we aren’t only working local, so it was pretty kind of looking at someone who aligns with. our company and has a following of our clients. Obviously, that’s, that’s pretty crucial. Or you just have an influencer that’s not, doesn’t produce a really outcome. Right. But yeah, we just, my brother took care of that. I think he just on Instagram, reached out. And he, he was actually in the process of moving, so, we got him. A few items worked. Oh, perfect. Worked perfect for both of us. Yeah. Yeah. Oh my God.
Crystal: Talk about great timing. Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. okay. Working with your brother, I hear, you know, work with your family. It’s amazing. Don’t work with your family. How is it going for you guys?
Edgars Cers: At times. At times it could get little, little arguments in that, but sure. Overall it’s, yeah, it’s fun. It’s a fun experience. Also building, and having the sense of like, knowing that we each have. We each have each other’s back. Yeah. Which is really crucial in business when you’re starting off, I think, it’s, you can’t build anything alone really. Or you have very limited what you can, and it’s really the, the people that you work with, um Yeah. Is crucial in building that team,
Crystal: so. Totally. And you said your buddy too is a part of the business?
Edgars Cers: We, we started off, together, and then he went to college.
Crystal: Okay. Okay. Now are you, did you finish college then on your phone and then you went in and started this business? Or how did that All
Edgars Cers: high school. I sorry, high school.
Crystal: I was even wondering, I like, is it high school or is it college? Yeah. You were awesome. So you finished high school, which kind of a bummer. Then. Did you have like a prom and graduating?
Edgars Cers: Yeah, so, senior year of high school was normal. Okay. Close to normal. Yeah. Okay,
Crystal: good. Yeah. Good. So then, and then you were like, I don’t need to go to college. I’m starting a. Yes. I love it. I, I’m in the camp of, I’m not that big of a believer in college. I think that it can be appropriate for certain careers or, you know, in certain situations. And I went to college. but if I did it all over again, I wouldn’t have, I would’ve just started working, starting a business. The things that you learn, that’s the best kinda school you can go to. Now speaking of, what is one of the things that you’ve learned that’s really been. Pivotal. Pivotal to your. Success that you didn’t know before, but you had to figure it out and you’re in this business. What is one of those things that the hard, you know, the school of hard knocks, as they say?
Edgars Cers: Yeah, I think the biggest is, that the, is from Tony Robbins is the growth or success of the business is always depending on. The owner’s mindset and, and it’s like once you realize that, or, or yeah. The chokehold of the business is always the owner’s mindset. And once you take that responsibility, not taking blame of it, of like not doing this or that, but taking ownership of knowing, like if your mindset is like limited or if your mindset is, wherever it might be, that’s where the business is going If you see all the opportunities and lining everything up. They’ll get there. But yeah, that realizing and taking ownership of that is for sure big. Yeah. Because without that, you can’t implement other skills or this or that. Yeah.
Crystal: Yeah. You’re the bottleneck, you’re stuck. That’s an amazing thing to learn early on. Yeah. I, I have, I mean, I’ve had my business for 10 years and I did not learn it that early, and there’s moments where you know it, but then. Life happens, business happens, and yeah, you can go take a couple steps back and a few steps forward. So if you can keep that in mind and really like mindset and it’s always, you’re always working on it. Yeah. Is what I’m finding. but I bet. What did you think about, Bob talked a lot about mindset stuff today, and you’re probably like, yes, I completely agree. What was one of your highlights of, did you go to any other sessions or were We were, it was funny cause we were sitting next to each other. Yeah, yeah, yeah. At Bob, Megan, who’s also I interviewed, and, Edgar’s like, Hey, I’m going to be on your show. And I’m like, oh my gosh. We’re sitting there the whole time. Like, I had no idea. So that was fun. but what was, yeah, did you do other sessions?
Edgars Cers: I did a, I did a couple in, home furnishing association. They had a couple seminars, that was, yeah. It was a mix of, sales pitches and information. But I mean, there’s, it’s always the little things that, get you back on track or. Just adjusting
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Edgars Cers: Yeah, so I think. One thing is also for sure having the mind of, the economy to a sense. Because obviously, people are cutting back a bit on big-ticket items, which is furniture, and that, that is where we. Can we we’re looking to advance the pre-owned couches and sections because we’re able to save people great money on. Right. Good stuff. overall, our goal for 2023 is really building the one-stop shop for like a new apartment, renters, or owners. and so it’s having the, having the line of options, but also to a limit where it’s not. 30 mattresses and 30,000 square feet, you know, so keeping the operations also matching like the client’s needs and wants with the operations. which is just a thing to figure out where it’s, but yeah, that’s kinda a little jumble right there. I
Crystal: But, no, but love it because at least for me as a shopper, I get really overwhelmed when there’s a ton of options and then I have, I can only get certain things from here and certain things from here. And when you’re making it, it just sounds like the convenience factor. And people want the convenience. That’s why they’re shopping online, but then they’re not getting the quality. And they’re not being able to test it out and sit and use it. So you’re making that, I feel like the focus a little bit sounds like convenience. Yes. And really putting that customer first, which is awesome. I feel like that will, that your business will be very successful if you keep doing that. I’m just thinking about you being in high school and then starting this business and I just like, I feel so proud of you and I don’t even know you. But that’s really an awesome accomplishment. what is, what are your proudest moments?
Edgars Cers: proudest moments? I think, I think overall just like the firsts of things, like start taking the leap on things. Taking a leap sometimes. Getting over that fear. I think another thing of Bob was a lot of, a lot of great things that he said were just like reinforcement. I dove deep in a lot of, like self-development courses in that with like Tony Robbins the past year. and obviously, repetition is mother of skill, so it’s like keep going with that. and the thing about like the fear and courage is like, Fear is undirected thoughts. Courage is directed thoughts, so it’s like, yes, once you. Your mind is programmed to be like survival. So it’s like that’s your first instinct and you just have to take control of it with that subconscious mind, take control of it, and then direct it with the courage. Mm. yeah. And yeah.
Crystal: That’s deep and like That’s so powerful. So powerful. Yeah. But you have to, there is that training, the reputation, the petition, repetition, repetition that you have to get to that place. You’re training your brain. We’re rewiring our brain to really focus on that. I love that so much. You’re so wise. Yeah. Tony Robbins is such a good person to study from. Yeah, I did his, Mastery something. Business mastery maybe. Yeah. Awesome, awesome. Broke through the wood. Awesome. But it was all virtual. 2020. So I’m at my house by myself, just like going through the wood. Yeah. what is something that you found challenging as a business owner?
Edgars Cers: Chall. I mean, there are challenges for sure. Every day. Yeah. it is at times changing those overall just problems into like viewing those viewing them as opportunities. Yeah. It can get tough at times when. Things don’t go your way. It can be very easy to get into, like just as easy or just as a success cycle is. You can also create, like not working. It’s like a cycle where it’s like, this doesn’t work out, this doesn’t work out. And it’s like only the morning. And it’s like that could easily turn into just like a cycle of Totally.
Crystal: Yeah. And then you spiral, the whole day is gone. And then if you don’t get yourself out of that, you’re kind of stuck. Yeah. And then mindset and if you’re the owner, and it’s all about mindset. Of the business, so, yeah. what would you, if there were somebody just like you who is senior in high school, let’s say just like you a few years ago, and they have a business idea, what kind of advice would you
Edgars Cers: give them? I would say, I would say for sure, First start to just go for it and then gain the skills, build the relationships, that will propel you forward. I think it’s a combination of the correct education with like action, because if you’re only learning, that only gets stored in your head and it’s a limited amount and you can’t get it like where you’re. In the real world, I guess like, and like making it happen. So a combination of, I think yeah, but, and then the massive action of taking, taking big risks, but still, still, calculated. . . And yeah. And then I think the other, The other crucial thing is the, the relationships of who, not how because there is already someone who has done what you’re doing or very closely that you want to do. Yeah. and also building the network of people as one thing that also I think focusing on myself, but also for the business of like strategic partnerships of like, Overall for the business, there are many ways of who are the people that are working with our clients, like real estate agents, apartment buildings, either even like home improvement stores, that’s like people go there when they’re moving into a house or moving into apartment. And then strategic or just overall for myself, building a network of people that, are like-minded and or. Overall just life experience and kind of the, I just read, Keith RA’s book, Never Eat Alone. Oh, okay. I’ve heard of it, but I have not read it. Yeah, and I think one, of the chapters is build it before you need it, so it’s like providing people value. Providing, especially I’m young, I’m able to have more time than being committed into one exact thing where I’m able to help people or host networking events or this and that. And then I have the, the network where it’s like if I want to start this or this, then I have
Crystal: the resources. Exactly. Once you are in that place of need, you’ve got your people. Yeah. But it’s not, and I, I. You’re doing it because obviously you’re serving, you’re connecting, you’re part of the community. Yeah. Especially as a local business. And, you just gave such great advice. I mean,, the community and your network just start, have to have action. I think a lot of people sit at home and will map it all out. And talk about it, but they won’t take those, that next step. Cause it’s scary. Yeah. So fear wins, right? They gotta really focus on courage. Yeah. And get into action. And then they’re going to learn from that. Because a lot of people, we don’t know what we don’t know. Yeah. Until you get into it. Right. And you’re going to learn so much from that. But that was really great advice for our listeners, so I appreciate that. Anything else that you want to leave the listeners with as it relates to business?
Edgars Cers: Yeah, I think, I think the last thing would be about, about the technology that’s available. And I like, one of your podcasts about the Chat GPT Yes. Where it’s like, my thinking with that is, Use it or let it use you where it’s like the, the technology’s out there and it’s like advancing and you either you, you use it to your benefit or you ignore it. But I mean, it’s the things that right now is just like the tip of the iceberg. Completely agree. And I think it’s, it’s very crucial to, to gain those skills because, or gain those skills of using it and finding what works Yeah. For you. because it can. Save you hours. Hours a day or a week. And not only that but produce great. Whatever.
Crystal: Totally. And you’re so right. It it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yeah. Like there what, we don’t even know what’s to come. I feel like there’s this like weird kind of Whoa. Yeah. The world. Is going to change. It’s, it’s changing all the time, but like in a dramatic way, I think. And it’s smart that you’re thinking that way too, and thanks for reinforcing it. Cause people are worried. Yeah. They don’t want, they don’t want to hear it. Yeah, they don’t want to talk. I don’t want to learn a new thing. What’s incredibly amazing to me with specifically chat GPT, is how easy it is. They’re making the technology so easy for the average consumer. And as you start playing with it, you can figure out like, how can I use this for my business and how can this really support me? So thanks for being a cheerleader for it. because businesses need to evolve. They need, to stay up to date. Awesome. Yes. comfy living chicago.com. Yes. Right. And is that, The handle for social as well. Yes. Awesome. We’ll link to it all in the show notes. Edgar, thank you so much for being here. This was such a great conversation. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here. It means the world to me. Don’t forget to join the Rise and Shine newsletter, which is social media news you need to know. Sent via email every Monday morning. Go to Crystal media co.com/rise to join, and don’t miss the newest episode of Rooted in Retail, which drops every Sunday morning