Working at a tech company in the earlier years of this century, Chow saw the dot com bubble bursting and had the foresight to recognize that he needed to look beyond the tech industry. With a child on the way, Dexter also wanted to find something that would allow the family to spend more time together. Starting a business seemed like a natural choice, and a local toy store came up for sale.
“Actually, Cheeky Monkey was the second store that came up for sale. We saw one first that put us in the mind frame that a toy store would be both a lot of fun, and meshed pretty well with having a child. We were too late for that first one, but we were ready when Cheeky Monkey came around, and we moved forward with taking over ship.” Chow recalls, “It was a pretty big change, going from high tech…to a retail toy store.”
There are many ups and downs of being a retailer. “Our biggest struggles are twofold: internally we struggle with finding and retaining great employees. We have a great crew currently, but it’s difficult when most employees don’t look to base their careers at your store – this was a big learning curve from our prior occupations. Externally, we struggle with a shrinking retail base and price competition from chain stores and internet stores. Luckily, we have a customer base that mostly realizes the value that a local store brings, and is not purely transactional – they value things beyond just price.”