Pay It Forward – Exotics by the Guy

I am happy to present to you our sixteenth local business spotlighted in the Pay it Forward feature – Exotics by the Guy.

Our recent Lake County business featured was Kingdom Games and owner, Brandon Costner, chose to Pay it Forward to David Correa, owner of David Taco Guy. Unfortunately, David was unable to participate in the feature and he chose to Pay it Forward to Steven Ianczok, owner of Exotics by the Guy

The catch is that I will not choose the next business to interview, but the current spotlighted business will choose who I will interview next. Local businesses will Pay it Forward.

Exotics by the Guy is a locally owned and operated custom store that offers a wide variety of the most sought-after foreign and rare snacks, drinks, cookies, and candy. They also offer Naruto cards, Pokemon Cards, Love Stickers, Croc Charms, Funko Pop figures and so much more. Exotics by the Guy has been in business for eight years with five-star reviews.

They are dedicated to our local community, promoting many giveaways that include everything from bicycles to back-to-school bags filled with beneficial school supplies to support our local children and parents. Let’s give back to Exotics by the Guy and visit his one-of-a-kind store!

1. Why did you decide to start your own business?

It was about 2015-2016 – I was in between jobs at the time and ended up having some health issues, which made it hard to find a job. I needed to figure out what to do; I was at a Dollar Tree one day and came across some crazy Neapolitan-flavored Cookie Crisp cereal for $1 a box. I said why not – that’s something new I’ve never seen before.

The whole time driving home, I was staring at these cereals; so curious when they came out with this flavor. I always eat cereal and didn’t even hear of these, so I decided to start doing more research on them. When I got home, I was on Google looking up information about them and couldn’t find anything but people from YouTube eating them, stating how good they were. Then I thought that if it’s worth anything, it’ll be on eBay, and sure enough, there were expired boxes being sold for $20-30 a box.

I’m thinking to myself no way, so I go to my Instagram and post both boxes for $15 a box and within 25 minutes, they were gone! I went back to the store and bought as many boxes as they had available. I started off with American hard-to-find cereals, then snacks, and then people started asking about foreign products. I was able to find some really cool stores that worked with me getting wholesale and letting me wipe their shelves out. Now we have our own importing/exporting licensing and two warehouses where we store our inventory. I couldn’t believe how a small idea that turned into a life passion would take me to where I am!

2. How do you deal with fear and doubt?

Honestly, I don’t ever fear too much stuff. I grew up in the not-so-best of places which gave me a really tough skin to life. I don’t let things bother me. I just go with the flow.

3. How does your business look different now vs. when you first started?                                                        

It’s crazy to see how far this business has gone! From selling out of the trunk of my car, at skate parks, the randomness of places I would pop up at, to now a successful storefront with over 250 options to always choose from. I definitely didn’t think my business would go as far as it did, but I stuck it out and turned my idea into my life passion.

4. How do you set your business apart from others in your industry?

The community is what sets us apart, I believe, that without the community’s support, none of the things we do would be possible – from our back-to-school drives, bicycle giveaways and so much more we try to help. We pride ourselves to always get the best product for the best price and we guarantee to beat any competitor’s price. Since we work so closely and directly with the companies, you don’t get gouged online. We are able to show our community that we aren’t just your crazy snack store but a community helper.

5. What is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur?

So for this one, I’m going to answer as one because my favorite and hardest part of being an entrepreneur is the challenges. There’s days you think it is going to be busy or is this new product going to sell I brought in, but it’s the risk we take as an entrepreneur and for me, every day is a new challenge, just know to never ever give up and keep pushing

6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I have always wanted to go to Japan and play with vending machines. Haha.

Steven Lanczok – Owner of Exotics by the Guy

514 Lakeport Blvd, Lakeport, Ca 95453

Tuesday-Saturday 11 am-9 pm

Sunday 10 am-3 pm


Facebook @Exoticsbytheguy

Instagram @Exoticsbytheguy

TikTok @Exoticsbytheguy

Steven would like to Pay it Forward to Locals Barber + Salon in Lakeport.

Stay tuned for Locals Barber + Salon!

Lori Armstrong

Lori began her career in the legal field, leaving that position to pursue full-time writing endeavors. Being a criminal court reporter for the Record-Bee, she balances the chaos in her brain by writing children's books and reflective pieces. When time allows, she publishes books for Amazon.

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