Ah Nucci’s. How I love your retro vibes. Your brick and wrought iron façade and your sock hop dining room. Your scripted neon and stained glass signs. And most of all, your creamy freeze the roof of your mouth homemade gelati.
My husband and his family are Nucci’s Gelati ambassadors. They don’t travel to Winnipeg without incorporating an Italian ice cream stop. Better yet, I’ve known them to make the weekend trip for the sole reason of scratching the gelati itch. My in-laws contributed buckets of the stuff to our wedding reception and are known by name by owners and operators Mr. and Mrs. Nucci.
Today, as we enjoy our two flavor small dishes (with complimentary scoops of dark chocolate from Mrs. Nucci), Aaron wonders whether the Nuccis would ever sell their gelati to the retailers in Fargo who import rather than manufacture their own. They could grow their business he thinks… make more money.
In my work at the Chamber, I encounter small business owners all the time who aren’t interesting in ‘growing.’ No one’s ever said they make enough money, but many are in business to spend their days doing something they really want to do.
Take Mrs. Nucci, for example. Her shop doubles as her home. From the right angle you can view her living room from the corner of her display freezer. On this particular rainy Sunday, we’re her only customers. She hears the front door chime, fulfills our order, and goes back to her life while we are still enjoying our gelati.
Her recipes are her own and she makes her ice cream by hand, experimenting with flavors to complement the passing seasons. She scoops the sweet stuff for her customers and rings the till and wipes down the tables. Only occasionally do we find one of her grown children manning the register.
Growth would mean staff. It would be the loss of her personal relationship with each and every customer. It would mean teaching others her family’s secrets for making hands down the best gelati in the world. It would mean learning about exporting, cold transportation, billing and servicing accounts. Marketing and accounting and employee 401K plans and training and retaining team members and product differentiation and policy manuals and strategic plans and remote quality control.
In would mean Nucci’s would become more than just a charismatic, welcoming, colorful Corydon destination for neighbors and travelers alike. We don’t need that kind of growth.