“Store Spotlight” is a mini project we work on here in Roni Rabl where we showcase our stores and their owners, with the goal in mind to learn and share about how to make a fashion store successful. This week we’re featuring 3 stores, among them, Flying Carp. Q. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? A. Butter Pecan. Q. What’s your birth date? A. December 19th Q. What made you become a store owner? A. At age 41, I had considerable responsibility and rank in university management until my boss decided to make my life miserable. She thought that I had turned her into the attorney general’s office for misuse of university funds. I started pursuing other options, e.g., get a Cornell University degree in hotel management, find another administrative position, open my own business. I took a small class offered by the SBA which stimulated my creative energy. I spent a year, developing a business plan and financing for a small retail gift shop in Ocean City, NJ, before quitting my job. The Flying Carp shop had a Japanese theme: pottery, screens, futons, cards, lamps, decorative accessories, a few pieces of clothing appliquéd with kimono fabric, and some jewelry because I had been given a jewelry case. Opening night, I sold every piece of clothing and every piece of jewelry. Responding to customer demand, I ordered more clothing and jewelry. Clothing grew to #1 in store sales, jewelry to #2. Eventually, I opened a second shop with clothing only, next door to the gift shop. And a few years later, I sold the gift shop to my manager who operated it until Hurricane Sandy. I still own the clothing shop with some jewelry. Before administrative work, I studied and taught art history and was an art museum curator. You might have wondered why I would sell Japanese things. They appeal to me aesthetically Q. What is the most important tip you can give someone who is about to open a store? A. I wish I could be clever here. I constantly see people opening pizza joints and tee shirt shops in Ocean City. I guess some make it, but I wonder why we don’t see more originality in businesses. Too many copy cats. People should draw on their passions, develop a plan, and modify plans as they listen to customers and professionals who can help them. One Ocean City customer gave me six months to survive because my store was so different. That was 28 years ago.