By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
WESTWOOD, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Chris Alepa had the idea seven years ago to open a craft brewery at the Westwood, New Jersey, location that was home to the family-owned L.N. Grand 5 & 10 Cent Store for 60 years. That became a reality in April, and Five Dimes Brewery’s early success is exceeding Alepa’s wildest dreams.
“When we finally opened the doors, it was a rush to get in,” he said. “It was a good, good feeling.”
On the 250th Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, Alepa explained to WCBS 880 that his goal was to connect neighboring businesses in Westwood and communities in surrounding towns.
“You’re seeing the restaurant next door and the one around the corner, and they’re all having some of the best business they ever had. Even the Irish pub that first might have thought it was a competition thing has been doing fantastic. It’s only helped their business.”
Five Dimes Brewery has a “BYOF” policy or “bring your own food,” which the owner sees is helping local eateries.
“We had people from Greenwood Lake the other day, we had people coming from Rockland County, we had a couple guys coming from Brooklyn. So people are coming from all the different areas now. They want to check the place out. And I think that’s been great for the whole community, putting Westwood on the map and opening the door to see what else the town has to offer.”
Alepa ran into an unusual problem when he opened his craft brewery to such high demand: it ran out of beer.
“We could not find kegs anywhere in America,” he said.
“Once we make our beer, we need to move it out of the tanks, into the kegs, and then, make more so we have a good supply. Well, we didn’t have that ability. All the kegs we would try to get, we couldn’t get. We finally found them in Canada, they got shipped to us, they got held up at U.S. Customs for 30 days,” Alepa explained.
Five Dimes Brewery temporarily closed for several days to rebuild their keg supply. They also hired more workers.
The craft brewery has a rooftop deck where they host private events. They also host tours where you can watch the brewing process in-house.
Home-brewing became widely popular during the COVID-19 pandemic and it has long been a hobby of the founder.
“I’m a chiropractor by training,” said Alepa. “I still do that, but this has been a passion. I’ve been home-brewing and I always thought this would be awesome for the community.”
The entrepreneur also operates Select Wellness, LLC a separate chiropractic, physical therapy and acupuncture practice with locations in Westwood and Fair Lawn. But, he is scaling back to follow his passion of running Five Dimes Brewery.
The company is now canning its popular IPAs, lagers and pilsners for retail.
See what makes Five Dimes Brewery a hit on the 250th Small Business Spotlight video above.
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — There are clear parallels between business presentations and acting on the big screen and that starts with knowing your audience.
“Acting and improvisation and storytelling are really great platforms for helping people in lots of businesses and lots of situations. And one of the ways that principally helps people is by making the activity of selling or presenting a human activity, which is what performance really is all about,” said award-winning Broadway and television actor Adam Grupper on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
The “Law & Order” and “Homeland” actor said, too often, people make the mistake of reciting a speech without taking cues from the audience.
“We forget that it’s a two-way street that we want to connect with our partners, we want to connect with the people that we’re talking with, which means that we have to be receptive to what’s coming from them,” said Grupper.
Outside of show business, he works with corporate clients to help them improve their performances in the boardroom and overcome anxiety when delivering a presentation or sales pitch.
“Nervousness and stage fright has to do with when your focus is directed internally, you start thinking, ‘what am I doing?’ And when you start doing that, then your internal voice that starts to be self-critical kicks into gear,” said Grupper. “The trick to getting out of stage fright is always to push your energy outward. It means that you have to be attentive to your partner – ‘What are they doing?’ not ‘what am I doing?'”
The “Two Weeks Notice” lawyer told WCBS 880 that the most common question he’s asked by presenters is “What do I do with my hands?” Grupper advises businesspeople to not be preoccupied with their own body language. Rather, he said, they should focus on the information that they are conveying.
“Remember that what you have to convey is important, that what you have to convey is something that will be a benefit to your audience. It’s not just a self-serving thing. What you’re doing is for your mutual benefit and it’ll be even more to your mutual benefit, if you are prepared to take what somebody gives you and then incorporate that,” Grupper said.
He noted sometimes presenters need to be prepared to go off-script and improvise to connect with their audiences.
Grupper, who recently played “The Wizard” in “Wicked” on Broadway, recommends professionals be able to succinctly explain what they do and why it’s important. Additionally, he said they need to be prepared to make professional connections in any situation, not just networking events.
See how to make a great sales presentation and connect with an audience on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.
Produced by Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Drumroll, please!
Five finalists of the 1010 WINS Small Business $10K Challenge, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, have pitched their businesses to a panel of judges who decided who wins $10,000. So who snagged top honors? Watch above!
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — MOJO Sports is on a mission to keep youth sports fun.
The company was founded by Ben Sherwood, former Disney-ABC Television Group and ABC News president, who witnessed first-hand how youth sports can be stressful for both kids and parents. For 14 years, he was the soccer coach for his two sons. He often took calls on the practice field from then-Disney CEO Bob Iger while trying to organize drills.
“I had a PDF from 1994 for a soccer team and a book called ‘Soccer for Dummies’ that I bought at Barnes & Noble – when there used to be these bookstores where you could buy a book – and I did the best I could. And Lord knows I probably messed up a bunch of soccer careers, because I really didn’t have any idea what I was doing,” said Sherwood on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
“We set out with MOJO to make sports more fun for kids, easier for coaches and stress-free for parents,” said Sherwood. “And so if you can take the stress and the pressure of all that out of the equation, you have more chance(s) of families participating and kids considering the play.”
He told WCBS 880 the app already has 100,000 monthly active users since its launch in February 2021. It provides training resources and short videos of practice drills.
“Our machine generates a practice for you that fits the exact amount of time you’ve got, it tells you exactly the equipment you’re going to need, and then, gives you high-quality videos that are about a minute to a minute and a half long that show you the activities that you’re going to do in the order you’re going to do them with coaching tips and coaching points,” he said.
“All of these activities are age appropriate, developmentally appropriate for your team, and they’ve been vetted and approved by the best organizations in sports.”
MOJO Sports has partnered with Major League Baseball, NFL Flag Football and Jr. NBA to develop the curriculum. Sherwood told the WCBS Small Business Spotlight that the professional sports leagues recognize the connection between fandom and playing the sport growing up. It is also their talent pipeline.
The MOJO Sports app, available on iOS and Android, is free for coaches and youth sports teams, but parents can buy additional resources with a subscription.
“There’s additional content that families can purchase for a subscription fee of about five bucks a month or about 60 bucks a year,” said Sherwood, continuing, “With that additional subscription fee, you get access to additional content that you can work on at home with your kids if you want to give your kids additional benefits and additional video and additional content to help them get better at sports.”
See how the MOJO Sports app works to keep kids engaged and take the pressure off parent coaches on the Small Business Spotlight video above.