By Ginger DeShaney
Before August, Prabin Dhar had never worked behind a register.
Now he’s working a register almost every day at his new convenience store, Crossroads Mart, at 673 East Broadway (the site of a former 7-Eleven). The store is open from 6 a.m. to midnight every day.
After 12 years as a dog walker and trainer with his business, Canine Superstars, Dhar was ready for a new challenge and jumped into the retail market. (Dhar’s Canine Superstars is still in business with a friend taking care of the dogs.)
“I had been looking for a good business,” he said. “I was looking for the right opportunity.”
Sandesh Prajapati, now his business partner, called him one day out of the blue and let him know there was a business opportunity he may be interested in.
“I looked at [the property] that same day and said, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’ I had no experience.
“I didn’t realize how bad I was at counting cash,” he joked. “It’s a very good learning curve.”
When the landlords learned Dhar had never worked retail, they were unsure of how he might do in the business, Dhar said. “It took them four or five days to check up on me. I was losing sleep.”
Dhar, who is originally from Nepal, signed the lease and got to work securing licenses, meeting with vendors, stocking shelves, hiring employees, and learning the business.
Dhar has a degree in business administration from Framingham State University, which gives him confidence in dealing with people, working with numbers, overcoming challenges, and succeeding in what he puts his mind to. He is always thinking of new ideas and ways to make improvements.
“All of this is brand new to me,” he said. “It’s a learning process. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
His affable personality, can-do attitude, and love of learning serve him well in this venture.
“Did I want to open a business during a pandemic? I question it every day,” he joked. “It’s tough right now, but it’s tough for everyone … but I’m optimistic. I’m very hopeful for this place.”
Before opening, Dhar hired professionals to redo the floors, paint the store, and make sure all the coolers and freezers were in working order.
Dhar opened his doors Aug. 28. His first customer was Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who came in for a Gatorade.
Dhar’s store is light, bright, spacious, and clean. Every customer is greeted as they come into this inviting space. There are refrigerators stocked with beverages; freezers filled with ice cream; snacks and candy galore, grab-and-go items, and so much more.
Dhar is quite proud of his coffee and wants people to stop by and try it. He offers Sumatran and Colombian. “The coffee here is great,” he said. “I want people to taste my coffee.” During September, Dhar offered free coffee. Right now, a cup of Joe is just $1.
It’s only been a few months, but customer traffic has been increasing slowly but surely. Dhar has already gotten a pretty good base of repeat customers, his “regulars.” The most popular item right now is Red Bull.
People can also order items from Crossroads Mart through Postmates, GrubHub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash. The other day, a customer ordered a can of Coke. There’s an extensive menu of delivery items, including ice cream, bakery, beverages, candy, dairy, deli, frozen food, health items, pet food, sandwiches, grocery, and more.
Dhar has seen a steady increase in online ordering.
The newcomer has lots of ideas for continued improvements to the store, including adding more shelves and dedicating aisles to pet food, household products, tools, and electronics. “I want to make it easier for customers,” he said.
Dhar’s motto is simple: Provide great service and treat customers well. “Everyone is treated with respect and care,” he said. “We see what they need … we are always helping people.”
Dhar makes sure he greets every customer. “It’s important to see what they need and how we can help them,” he said. “We want to give them a reason to come back.
“We want to provide a wonderful service that they remember.”
Dhar is thrilled with the location of his store. “The neighbors are amazing,” he said. “I’ve gotten very good support from them. I”m happy to be here.”