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Business Owner: Positive Attitude and Hard Work Pay Off

Raees Iqbal, 48, tells what its like to run a small business in downtown Concord.

Small businesses often come and go, but that's not the case for downtown Concord's . The small shop at 2031 Salvio Street has been in business since 1954. 

Though it's changed hands, the family-owned retail and repair shop opened near Todos Santos Plaza nearly six decades ago to provide service and sales of vacuum cleaners, sewing machines and accessories to East Bay residents and is still in business.

Raees Iqbal, who bought the now 58-year-old small business in 2003, said both the internet and the recession created significant overall challenges - but nothing that hard work couldn't counter, he explained.

"I'm 48 but I work like a 28-year-old man," said Iqbal. "I work hard seven days a week, do free pick up, deliver and whatever I need to keep [my] door open and customer satisfaction."

Maintaining a positive attitude when times get tough, he added, is a key tactic of keeping the business alive, said Iqbal. 

"That and my family," he said. 

Though it might appear Iqbal runs a one-man-show - from selling vacuum cleaners, to fixing them, to keeping books and more - the father of four said he couldn't do any of it without support from his children and wife, who each take turns and schedule shifts to support the family business.

Each family member also keeps a stack of promotional flyers in his or her car and places them on windshields of parked cars in nearby towns to help promote the business while out on errands, said Iqbal.

"Even my 8-year-old boy will answer the phone sometimes when we bring him to the store," he said cheerfully. "... but most important is keeping customers happy with service quality," said Iqbal. 

While the internet may present a challenge with competitive retail prices, "a repairman won't jump out of computer screens" when machines break and solve problems, said Iqbal. 

If a customer wants to trade-in a vacuum cleaner for another or try different-size models for certain periods of time before making sure theirs is the right fit, Iqbal's store provides such flexibility, he said.

"We build a relationship over time and that is what keeps business alive," said Iqbal. 

Are you a loyal customer of a downtown Concord business? What makes you shop there instead of online? Tell us in the comments.

Craig Bosse May 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM
I have been to this store twice and was amazed by the service. The first time I needed a belt for my vacuum cleaner. I walked in and he said a friendly hi. I told him the model number and he walked over to the wall with about a hundred different belts and snagged one without looking anything up. It worked perfectly! The second trip to the store was even more impressive. I didn't even know what brand or model I had. I told him the color and a few things I could remember about it. He grabbed two filters and said it's one of these two and I'm betting it's this one. He sent me off with one and said if it didn't work to come back. I was totally amazed when it fit perfectly. Oh yeah.... and I found out later when I was in a big box store, he beat their price. Excellent service that you just don't find every day. Thank You !

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