I was having lunch with Esmelda Perez at Liriano Restuarant at Bakersfield Corner (112 Stoughton Street). I had beans and rice while she tucked into a roast chicken platter. The meal was satisfactory but the conversation was more interesting. Ms. Perez pitched a business idea that got me thinking. Her idea is a humdinger.
We were about midway through our meal when she hatched her plan to me while biting the skin off the wing of her half chicken, "I was on Newbury Street a few weeks ago," she said, "And I noticed all the specialty shops. They have stores that only sell a few things. It's not like up the road at Upham's Corner. Here it's all dollar stores except Foot Locker and CVS, and even CVS sells more than medications. There isn't any place that specializes in one thing I think people need. Like I say, I've been thinking, and I think I've found a niche that will succeed in this neighborhood. I've been doing some research. Even if we're in a recession, there is one thing people always want."
The suspense was killing me. "What is it?" I asked.
She took a sip of Diet Coke to wet her whistle. "People want to smell good," she answered. She elaborated, "They want to smell like a million even if they don't have a million bucks. Ladies always want to smell good but they want their boyfriends to smell good too. They'll spend the extra money if it's worth it." It sounded plausible.
"What do you have in mind?" I asked.
"There's an empty storefront across the street from New York Fried Chicken. I've looked into it and the rent's not too bad. I want to stock it with fancy soaps and deodorants and perfumes. I can call it 'Esmelda's Smell Good Shop.' That's what it will be: a smell-good shop. I was originally going to call it 'Cool Water' after the cologne I buy for my boyfriend. I love the smell of that, I think it's sexy, but I figured people wouldn't get it so I settled on 'Smell Good Shop.' What do you think?"
I like it. People do want to smell good and why should all the perfume emporia be located on Boston streets more chi-chi than Columbia Road? I told this to Ms. Perez and she asked if I would co-sign a loan for her to get into business. I deferred, referring her to the Small Business Administration for entrepreneurial advice. I did pick up the tab for lunch in appreciation for this scoop on a new business developing in Upham's Corner.
Here is what Esmelda Perez likes her boyfriend to wear: For the ladies, there's this ...