Jim Bilger, Owner of Clubman Online and Corrado Cutlery


Meet Jim Bilger, owner of ClubmanOnline and Corrado Cutlery. He’s the Featured Business Owner at SCORE Chicago this week. Learn how he started and what tips he has for your success.

 Jim Bilger owner of Clubman Online

What is your company’s elevator pitch?

ClubmanOnline is the premier online source for the full range of fine men’s toiletries from Pinaud-Clubman as well as other select shaving, personal care and grooming products.   (And now combo shaving and grooming gifts like Clubman aftershave.

Pinaud Clubman Mens Shaving and Grooming Products

Corrado Cutlery specializes in the finest kitchen cutlery, scissors and manicuring implements, hunting and pocket  and Swiss Army knives, and men’s shaving and personal grooming items. We also offer the best knife and scissor sharpening services in the Chicago area.

Corrado Cutlery high quality knives, nippers, sizzors, gifts and optical goods online

What inspired you to start your business?

The business was founded in 1905 by Dominic Corrado. My brother worked for the last of the Corrado family to own the business and we took over in 1985. My brother relocated in 1999 and I have kept the business going to this day.

In the beginning I was attracted by the history of the company and the high quality and useful nature and the products sold and I still am today. We are a specialty tool business selling products used in our everyday lives that are built to work well and to last long.

I started Clubman Online in 2005 to meet the rising online demand for quality men’s shaving and grooming products. Clubman carries a wide range of Clubman products, including Clubman beard grooming products like Clubman Beard Balm, Clubman Moustache Wax . Corrado Cutlery has carried the full line of Pinaud-Clubman for many years and it is one of our most enduring brands.

Who are your clients and give an example of how you served that person or business?

Both Corrado Cutlery and Clubman Online serve passionate customers who are enthusiasts in the areas of kitchen and cooking, sporting and field activities, and men’s shaving and grooming. We also specialize in hard to find and high quality scissors, shears and manicure sets.

All of our customers are looking for and appreciate quality design and craftsmanship as well as in depth product knowledge and service – whether they are buying for themselves or for gifts (we specialize in wedding, groomsman and corporate gifts). These are the “old school” attributes that Corrado Cutlery and Clubman Online bring to the table.

What is your biggest business challenge?

In today’s ever evolving retail marketplace, I think marketing is the biggest challenge. We sell high quality goods from the best manufacturers at competitive prices backed by great service. The trick is getting the word out. Fortunately, our history gives us marketing cache and credibility that new start ups have yet to earn so we strive to continue earning that every day.

Who are your SCORE Mentors and how they have helped you in your business?

The late Larry Laken was my SCORE mentor for years.  Larry had highly relevant experience as a cosmetic firm owner and extensive retail experience in many areas.  His advice, tips and support helped me immensely over the years. Today I have a team of mentors helping me. Arnie Goldberg & Joel Shabsin provide me with solid business and financial assistance. Peg Corwin is working with me to prioritize my marketing opportunities and improve online marketing for what is now primarily an ecommerce business.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs?

I am reminded of the old joke: “How do you get an elephant out of the theater?” (Answer: you can’t… it’s in its blood!). Most of us entrepreneurs keep at it because we have to… it’s in our blood.

It’s important to managed the basics: selling goods or services in demand, know your market and your pricing, keep detailed and accurate bookkeeping records, ask for help where you need it (i.e. SCORE). Don’t be afraid to try new ideas while at the same time being honest with yourself if something isn’t working and be ready to reinvent yourself in that case.

What is your website for further info?

ClubmanOnline Facebook
ClubmanOnline Twitter
CorradoCutlery Facebook
CorradoCutlery Twitter.

Our business mentors can help you, too!

==> Schedule an appointment with a Chicago area mentor.

==> Ask a business question to an email counselor.

Disclaimer:   SCORE Chicago helps small business owners manage and grow their businesses.  We help startups write business plans and launch.  Nevertheless, our involvement should not be considered as an endorsement.


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