In 1995, Barbara Armajani started Ampersand Shops with the goal of making it Minnesota’s premier store for tabletop and tabletop accessories. With a store in Edina’s exclusive shops at the Galleria and a growing online presence, Ampersand Shops needed access to short and long term funding to grow. With North American Banking Company business banker Joe Arends’ unwavering support, Ampersand has recently expanded their store and is celebrating their 20th year!
We spoke with VP/CFO Carly Winslow about their relationship with North American Banking Company and how Ampersand Shops has adapted to trends as they continue to thrive.
When did you become involved with Ampersand Shops?
I started at Ampersand in 2007. My first position was Apothecary Buyer.
What positions have you had at Ampersand Shops and how have they evolved into your current role?
I started as a buyer for our apothecary which has since turned into our beautiful table top department. I then became assistant store manager, then store manager. I am now responsible for all departments, buying and financials.
What are your day to day responsibilities at Ampersand Shops?
Managing the productivity of the sales staff, overseeing operations and incoming merchandise, buying and all store financials.
Can you describe the growth of Ampersand Shops? To what do you attribute it?
Barbara Armajani, our owner, is a true visionary. What we excel at is ACTION! When we recognize a trend we are quick to adapt. We have seen tremendous growth in our wedding registry business. Which has brought us many new customers.
What’s the process like working with Joe Arends?
Joe has a very close hand on our business. He is always available for a call, and knows exactly where our business is at month to month. Consistency is Joe’s strength.
How has the expansion we worked on with you a few years ago affected your business?
It has made an enormous impact on our business, especially our wedding registry. It has given us a new and improved identity. We are now the premier tabletop store in the country.
What advice would you give a retail business owner?
You need to have the ability to adapt to the times. Ampersand has been open for 22 years because we are open to change.
Below: See our KARE commerical featuring Ampersand Shops!