iBurn Needs Your Help

HeatlinesIt’s 2015, and we would like to wish each and every one of you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR! At iBurn we’re hoping to have a happy new year too, but it’s going to be an uphill battle. We thought long and hard about going public with the store’s struggles, and we decided that our fiercely loyal fans, friends and followers would want to know the deal, but let’s start with some 2014 highlights…

Our website iBurn.com pretty much broke every record we had for 2014. We shipped over 12,000 jars, bottles, bags and boxes to all 50 states and 20 different countries. Our website continues to grow at a steady pace, and we couldn’t be happier with the progress. The storefront in Houston also performed better in the last 3 months of 2014 than the previous year. Unfortunately, even with a good holiday season, the combined numbers still fell well short of our goal to break even. Our 2014 overall numbers got us to 54% of our goal. Thankfully the website is moving in the right direction to achieve its 2015 goal. Unfortunately the storefront is not, and that’s our biggest concern. If we don’t get roughly twice as many people to visit the brick and mortar store in 2015, then we might have to close the storefront indefinitely.

Don’t worry! We’re NOT going out of business!

The site is kicking butt and taking names, but if things at the storefront don’t improve, everyone might have to order online for a while. At least until the website can give the storefront more support. UNLESS we can get help from all of you. Our biggest problem currently is letting people know we exist. People literally walk through the door every day that had no idea Houston has a store like iBurn. Fortunately almost everyone that visits the store will buy something, but for most people hot sauce is a monthly purchase at best. Some of our customers might only visit the store every 2-3 months, and there are even people that only visit once per year. That means we need a greater volume of people to come through our doors than most small businesses. We’ve done what we can afford to do to get the word out, but building brand recognition in a city as big as Houston is very difficult. Look at how many years (33+) of constant radio and TV commercials it took for Gallery Furniture to become a well-known local brand. We can’t afford traditional advertising right now, so we need all of the help that we can get.

How can you help?

If you’re one of the people that wants our storefront to stay open, then there’s a number of things you can do to help. First and foremost tell everyone about Houston’s ONLY hot sauce shop and spicy store. We’re happy to help in any way we can:

  • Need postcards? Give us the address.
  • Want us to show up at your event? Give us the details.
  • Got a great idea to get the word out? Let us know!

We’re open to any ideas that can move things in the right direction. Obviously sharing our store with your friends/fans/followers on social media would be a great place to start. Bringing your spice-loving family and friends to the storefront would be even better. Anything that can you can do to help us get through the winter (our slowest months last year) would earn our eternal gratitude.

We’re going to make some temporary changes.

In preparation for a potentially slow winter we are going to make a few minor changes to our daily operations. The only change that will impact you is our new hours. Starting January 5, 2015 we will have shorter hours in an effort to cut costs:

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday-Thursday: 11am-6pm
  • Friday-Saturday: 10am-6pm
  • Sunday: 12pm-4pm

Hopefully Monday will be the only day we have to be closed. Our weekday business will dictate the hours until the spring. We truly hope this is just a bump in the road, and with your help we can make 2015 the year that guarantees Houston will have a PERMANENT place to purchase the preeminent piquant products on the planet!

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8 Responses to iBurn Needs Your Help

  1. brwneyedbrndi says:

    If only I weren’t in Tampa, or if you weren’t in Houston. :/

  2. There is no address of your store in Houston on this page. By the time I go to your iBurn store above to look for address, I will have forgotten why I went there in the first place. I have friends who live in Houston and I will be happy to share the information on where they can visit your store to buy your hot products.

  3. Linda says:

    Have you participated in any of the local farmers’ markets? The one at Rice University on Tues afternoons is especially good in getting your name and product recognized. It would be close to your location, no need for alot of travel and would give great exposure. No, I am not affililated with the market, but go as often as possible. Hope you continue to thrive and grow.

  4. Kristin Ingram says:

    One idea that popped into my head was to maybe approach the Houston Press folk with the idea of a story on the rise of “hot foods mania”. Your store could be the centerpiece of the article!

  5. mike says:

    Send me some post cards I work retail and can put these in my store’s. 5303 Glenmont hou,tx 77081 attn : Mike

  6. Nick says:

    Love the honesty and candor.

    Few things of note – the mobile site does not have the store location or hours on it (minor).

    The location is not great as I’m sure you know – due to the lack of foot traffic and the neighborhood. I live right down the street (seriously – right on Academy) and this is just not the area for a novelty purchase.

    Chileheads will always seek you out – but chileheads alone are not enough to keep the retail location going. You need to get more non-chileheads through the doors. And in this neighborhood – a non-chilehead is most likely going to be a middle-upper class female with 2.5 kids and driving some sort of luxury vehicle. So you have to target her – where she goes, where she shops and where she interacts.

    Have you studied the traffic patterns on Bellaire to determine when the churches are getting let out or when the kids are getting picked up/dropped off from school? Perhaps a sign thrower to grab attention with a custom message depending on audience target/season? You could utilize them only during the peak traffic times so you get the maximum bang for your buck. Bust out the chile pepper costume while the weather is cool enough.

    What about going to each of the restaurants and bars in the area and offer to sponsor their condiments or bloody mary bar (Union kitchen)? Then you could put up small signage and target those already in the area.

    On that vein – targeting office buildings – offer to give free hot sauce to corporation/businesses with eat in kitchens. That way you get exposure to the employees for their personal purchases AND you can create gift basket options for the corporations to purchase for clients. Corporate drones are always eating bland lunches – you could solve that problem. And a case of hot sauce could get you almost an entire building.

    Contact the Braeswood HOA about advertising in the HOA newsletter – maybe you could get them to write a piece on you instead of having to pay for something. On that same thought – get into the Bellaire groups on Facebook and offer promotions/deals there to get people in the door. I know there are several that my wife is a member of that are highly trafficked.

    I know there have been several events – but have you thought about just rolling a BBQ out front with a sign for “Free HOT dogs” and give away hot dogs to get people to stop in? Something cheap to keep your costs down, but enough to get people to stop in.

  7. jose says:

    I came across your website after looking up the carolina reaper as the hottest pepper in the world. I will be visiting your store now that I know there’s one in houston where I live and the good thing is that I stay really close to Bellaire.

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