Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Lisa and Matthew DeVincenzo, owners of Twisted, a pretzel shop in the Southside Mall in Oneonta.
How long have you lived in the area?
We have lived here for 10 years.
Tell me about your business.
We sell hand-rolled, fresh-baked pretzels in a variety of flavors, and ice cream and coffee. We are hoping to bring in soups in the fall.
How did you get started in this line of work?
We have a shop in Cooperstown (Carmen Esposito’s Italian Ice, on Main Street) in which we (sold) hand-rolled pretzels. We realized the pretzel business needed its own place. Most malls have (a pretzel shop), but Southside Mall didn’t. That’s how we decided to (open) it there. We opened Twisted in February 2012.
Where do you see this business in five years?
We’re hoping to open another pretzel shop somewhere in the area. We will continue to be in the Southside Mall. We hope to have more name recognition by then.
What have you learned from your work?
I learned a lot about customer service, and that it’s not easy to run your own business _ and running two businesses is even harder. A mall dynamic is very different than a storefront _ it’s a totally different animal. The mall has more of a community feeling. You are part of a big group of people and we are all trying to help each other and promote each other’s business in the mall.
What is the most challenging part of what you do?
The most challenging part is trying to satisfy a large variety of people with what we offer, and trying to figure out what is going to appeal to the most people.
What is the most enjoyable part of what you do?
The most enjoyable part is dealing with people. I like to see a variety of people, and meeting new people.
How do you define success for your business?
Success is being a place that people like to go to. It is people having nice things to say about your business, the people who work in your business and what you sell.
What are some of the advantages and drawbacks of doing business in this area?
In Oneonta, there are a lot of college kids. That younger generation is a nice thing. Also, there is a slower pace of life. It is nicer to do business here than in the city, which is where we grew up.
The biggest drawback is the winter, and people not being able to get to you to buy your products due to inclement weather.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
There are not many pretzel businesses in this area. We don’t really have any competition, because the closest pretzel businesses are in Albany and Utica. But customers tell us our pretzels are a lot better than Auntie Anne’s — they are not as greasy and heavy.
What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?
You have to be very patient and give everything time, and be willing to devote enough time to see your business grow and to see results.