After a long history of working in a window factory, Cheryl Jones and James Gerber were finally fed up and decided they needed to make a change in their lives. Their factory jobs were killing them physically and mentally and they knew they had to find another occupation. Around the same time Cheryl and Jim were looking to make this career change, Cheryl’s aunt, Shirley Applegate had just lost her job. The pair touched base with Shirley and urged her to break into the smoke shop industry with them. Eventually she agreed and the three put everything they had into opening the shop.
“We opened our doors with very few products. We did not have as much as you would normally have when you open a store. We opened with very little supplies, but we were dedicated and the business kicked off quickly,” explains Cheryl.
In 2012, after newly passed laws shut down the shop’s rolling machines, which were a big aspect of the business, the trio knew they had to quickly find a new direction to fill the void the machines left. In addition to the full stocked smoke shop sections of the shop, Cheryl, Jim and Shirley had Kingdom Vapor come into the shop to discuss e-cig and vapor options as well. Today the successful shop, located in Du Bois, Pennsylvania, has something for everyone. The front half of the store is dedicated to all smoke and tobacco needs and in the back section customers can browse the Keep It Rolling glass collection and e-cigarettes.
The three Du Bois owner’s ability to keep up with trends in the industry and extrapolate that information to their own city and customers, is a major factor in the success they has been able to achieve with Keep It Rolling. Flexibility as business owners have made it possible for them to roll with the punches and evolve the business accordingly. Their knowledge of the industry and their dedication to serving customers, keeps the three ahead of the competition and in the know of when to get in and out of smoking trends. When hookah was growing popularity, they decided to open a hookah lounge in a section of the Pennsylvania shop. The first year went really well and customers loved the new side to the store. It was a cool place to hang out and the staff was helpful and knowledgeable when it came to the products. Over time however, the staff noticed that the hookah trend in the area was slowly fizzling out and ultimately decided to shut down the hookah side of the shop. Knowing when to jump on the band wagon can be just as important as knowing when to jump off and this is something that Cheryl and her partners at the Pennsylvania shop excel at.
“I love working in this industry. I absolutely love the people I work with and the customers I serve. We build great relationships with our customers and really get to know them on a personal level,” says Cheryl.
In addition to keeping the shop and products on trend, Cheryl, Jim, Shirley and the staff of Keep It Rolling demand high customer service standards in the shop. The overall dedication to helping customers is a big factor in the success of the shop.
“When customers come in, we make sure to give them exactly what they want. We make sure that they walk out of doors knowing how to use their products. Whether they are rolling their own cigarettes at home or learning how to vape, we set the up with the information and tools they need and make sure they like what they are getting into. If they have questions, they can stop back in at any time or shoot us a message on Facebook if it’s after hours and we are more than happy to assist them or walk them through it again if we need to,” explains Cheryl.
Customer service is what sets Keep It Rolling ahead of their competition. Customers come in knowing they will get great, honest service every time. The owners and the staff take the time to listen to their customers and pay great attention to what they need and want in the store.
“A lot of shops find themselves struggling because they might not have their inventory quite right. You have to pay attention to what is popular and keep that in stock and the same goes for things that are fading out, don’t hold on to them longer than you need to. If you do have items that aren’t selling, don’t keep them around forever, use them for drawings or giveaways. Customers can use them as a backup,” suggests Cheryl.
Looking forward to the future, it looks like Keep It Rolling will continue to be successful. However, one thing that concerns Cheryl, her partners, and the staff are the imminent FDA rules and regulations and what they might mean for the industry.
“If vaping is completely taken out of the picture, we wouldn’t be able to survive. It would kill a great industry, shut down shops, and put good people who work tirelessly to help their customers lead healthier lives out of work. The regulations could solidify the industry or break it and it’s a little scary waiting to see what is to come,” says Cheryl.
After finally making the brave switch from factory worker to business owner Cheryl is focused on the future and isn’t looking back. She adores the industry and everything about it.
“I absolutely love what I do. I love being able to be my own boss. I love my employees and my business partners. We are a family and we have grown to be so close. I could never walk away from this industry, my partners, or the business,” says Cheryl.
The passion that runs deep in the shop shines through to the customers who have grown to expect incredible customer service every time they walk through the doors. In an industry where customer service isn’t always guaranteed, Keep It Rolling provides a blast of honest, fresh air for customers in search of smoke or vape related products. Although this is a tough industry to break into and stay relevant, Keep It Rolling is doing just that. Backed by three knowledgeable and dedicated owners, the shop will surely continue to be successful for years to come. SVBS