I first learned about Erin & Adam when I received their nomination as Top Leaders Under 30. Truthfully, I have loved their deli for years and some of my favourite memories in downtown Trenton involve perusing their aisles. Even as I write this, I can still smell the distinct smell of the delicatessen and it’s making my stomach rumble!

I was so happy when Erin & Adam heard my call for participants for the “My Day” series because I myself was curious to know just a little bit more about the people behind one of my favourite delis. I hope you enjoy getting to know these incredible Bay of Quinte young entrepreneurs better as much as I have!

thumbnail_adam and erin

Question 1: Describe yourself in 3 words only.

  • Determined
  • Passionate
  • Innovative

Question 2: Tell me more about your business(es)? What kind are they?

  • Trenton Delicatessen is a Europe deli located in downtown Trenton. It was purchased in 1981, and originally opened in the early 60s. We proudly took over this historic business in 2015. We are dedicated in serving our loyal patrons and inspired to educate the next generation. We carry a wide range of Europe dry goods imported from Holland, Germany, UK and Poland. Customers can buy specialty meats and imported cheese from our deli counter. We also offer catering services, making beautiful artisan charcuterie, sandwich and sweet platters. Trenton Deli has a fantastic lunch counter with soups and salads made daily and fresh customizable sandwich options.

Question 3: Where does your entrepreneurial drive come from? What are your sources of inspiration?

  • We both have a strong entrepreneurial drive.
  • Adam has always had a strong desire to be the best he can be, for himself, for his family and for his community. He knew he had a strong talent in sales and numbers and always knew he could take on and excel at the challenge of business ownership.
  • Erin has come from a family of business owners. Knowing that success was possible if you worked for it, she was inspired at a young age to tackle the small business market.
  • Together, we inspire each other. We always are re-assessing each others own work, pushing each other to be a better manager, sharper accountant, stronger salesperson or harder worker. Even though we are endlessly passionate about the delicatessen industry, passion for a product can only go so far. One must be willing to sacrifice, take risks, work hard and be that entrepreneur that will make you successful.

Question 4: Considering how fierce competition is among your industry, what are your
business(es) competitive advantages? What makes you stand out in the crowd?

  • Trenton Delicatessen has been successful for quite a few reasons. We have worked hard and have seen our business more than double in the last three years. We have managed to maintain our loyal customers while building a new demographic and educating the next generation.
  • Here are four key factors to our success:
    • Atmosphere, Freshness and More Product. Like most current delicatessen’s, when we purchased Trenton Delicatessen it needed a fresh start without alienating loyal patrons. We painted the store, removed the dusty clutter and replaced the old tired coolers and shelving. We also filled the shelves and coolers with tons of new and fresh products, taking note of what our customers were looking for and wanted to purchase. We complimented these changes by being friendly and offering excellent customer service. This had attracted a new demographic, while maintaining our patrons.
    • Marketing and Investing in our Community. Adam and I knew immediately that we needed to be involved in our community. Erin joined the DBIA, we sponsored sports teams and took part in as many DT events as possible. We also have created a social media presence, launching Trenton Deli on Facebook and Instagram.
    • Hard Work and Long Hours. As obvious as this may seem, hard work has paid off for us. We are committed to this business. We sold our house and put in the very long hours, seven days a week. We didn’t take a vacation for two years. We extended our hours and kept them. We didn’t leave early or come in late.
    • Customer Service. Be friendly. Be honest. We work hard on good customer service and listening to our customers. Our shelves are filled with product recommendations from our customers. It’s welcoming to walk into a place where they remember your order and can give you thoughtful recommendations.

Question 5: No two days are often the same for an entrepreneur, but what does a typical day look like for you?

  • Our basic day is always a busy one. We average about 1000 customers a day which
    quadruples in the busy season. Prepping and cleaning is our big part of our day, including cooking soups and making salads, prepping our lunch station and stocking our shelves.
  • Adam is often on the road, picking up fresh buns and vegetables, banking, delivering and picking up stock. As we are in the retail food industry, we receive at least one shipment every day, which needs to be opened, priced and put out.
  • Our operating hours are Monday-Friday 9:00-6:00 and Saturdays 9:00-5:00. We generally are there a half an hour before open and after close.

Question 6: What do you do daily to grow as a person?

  • We are always actively educating ourselves, which has been key to our success. We stay knowledgeable on the new trends in food, retail and our local market. We do this by reading local news, staying engaged with the DBIA, Chamber etc and our downtown community as well spending time online and in the library.
  • We maintain relationships with suppliers and other delicatessen owners. It’s to our benefit to know what our customers want.
  • We are constantly reading and researching European history, culture and traditions. We are learning different languages, products and trends in the market.
  • We are staying in tune with social media and news events. We need to know what’s going on locally, Europe and around the world.

Question 7: What tricks have you discovered to keep you focused, productive and achieve a decent work/life balance?

  • Personal time management is very important, but can often be a difficult one. We work very hard on this together. When you’re passionate and motivated about your career, it is easy to work too hard for too long.
  • Some of our daily goals to keep us balanced are as follows:
    • Working out. We both strive to work out daily, even though we are running on our feet all day. If we are unable or unmotivated to get an actual workout in, we make sure to do something simple. That could be taking the dog for an extra long walk or running up and down the stairs a few times.
    • Hobbies and friends. After a long day, often we just want to curl up in front of the tv all night. Encouraging each other to keep up with our hobbies or to meet up with friends, forces us to have more of a life than just work. Our hobbies are often as simple as playing with our three pets, reading the newspaper or playing a board game.

Question 8: What popular entrepreneurial advice do you agree/disagree with?

  • Disagree:
    • If you have a good idea/passion start your own business! This is something we both strongly disagree with. Being passionate about a product or idea does not make a good entrepreneur. It takes time, dedication, motivation and hard work. It takes management, honesty and sacrifice. It’s about understanding the market and if it needs or can yield your passion or idea. What
      makes you successful then? We may be passionate about delicatessens and small towns, but if there is 500 delis in every small town across Canada, maybe the market doesn’t need another deli. The key to entrepreneur successes is pairing passion with business smarts.
  • Agree:
    • Patience and Risk: Work hard for your dreams. Put in the long hours, but take smart risks and be patient. Success doesn’t happen instantly and you shouldn’t make your changes instantly either. When we purchased the existing delicatessen, we made our changes methodically over time to protect our investment and to maintain our customers. Erin’s grandfather used to say in
      regards to business “You need to turn a ship slowly or it will keel over.”
    • Honesty: The obvious one is being honest to your customers and honest about your product. Don’t try to swindle customers, suppliers or your community. It will always come back to bite you. The less obvious is being honest to yourselves and to your business. Be honest about the time you can or want to commit to your business. Overextending yourself or setting unattainable
      goals will only have a negative result. You also need to be honest about your income. Don’t hide it. Don’t steel it. You’ve made the money, so claim the money. If you hide your income, your business has less value. You need that value to secure loans, mortgages, credit or even to get
      full value when selling your business.

Question 9: What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?

  • Our toughest moment was when we lost our main meat cooler and freezer in our first year of business. We purchased them from the previous owner in good faith. She knew they were old and dying, and we should have known too.
  • We lost a significant amount of product and the cost of replacing the units was astronomical. To overcome such an obstacle was very daunting and expensive. We didn’t have the money or credit to buy the new coolers. Luckily, a few months previous, Adam had discovered a cooler leasing company. He had found it through a blog he reads daily to stay current on food handling.
  • Through understanding customers, long nights and quick action, we got two new coolers in by the end of the week.

Question 10: If someone wants more information, what is the best way to contact you?

  • You can always call our store at 613-392-7906.
  • Email or Facebook message is the best way to contact us. Our email is trenton.delicatessen@yahoo.ca and Facebook page is Trenton Delicatessen.

If you would like to be featured in an upcoming “My Day” series post, please send me an email either through the Contact page or directly toboqyoungentrepreneurs@outlook.com