Just A Buck

Franchise Owners Find a Wealth of Good Advice in Memphis, TN

Kwan Hakim can’t help but chuckle sometimes when she sees a family member operating the cash register at her Memphis general merchandise store, Just A Buck. In their native Hong Kong, her relatives were teachers, principals, and engineers. Now, they’re ringing up sales, stocking shelves and helping customers select just the right item for a gift or the home.

Although the work is a far cry from their previous professions, Kwan and her family don’t take these jobs lightly. Five years ago, Kwan’s brothers and sisters were among the thousands of people who left Hong Kong before Great Britain returned the colony to China. Because family ties are the most important of all, Kwan was determined to help them find a way to make a living in the U.S.

"Irving was very patient and had a delightful personality. With his business experience, he could tell us exactly what to expect. He gave us the confidence we needed to move forward."

Kwan Hakim, Co-Owner, Just A Buck—Memphis


But how? Although she had gone to college, worked and lived in the U.S. for over 25 years, Kwan knew nothing about starting or running a business. She began exploring possible ideas with her husband and decided that a retail store offered the most promise. “After all,” she says, “many goods come from Hong Kong and China; why not the store owners, too?”

Kwan visited a bank to ask about loans and business start-up procedures. It was there that she learned about SCORE, a source of virtually unlimited expertise for small businesses. Kwan knew instantly that this was exactly what she needed. “Very few people know how to run a business because we usually work for someone else,” she says. “I think of SCORE as a community resource. Where else could you find some much valuable information? And for no charge!”

Kwan met with Irving Nathanson, the former president of an area carpet company, who discussed various alternatives, including buying a franchise. He then helped her evaluate various frachisors, explaining the responsibilities and benefits each one would afford. Kwan settled on Just A Buck, a small variety chain that specializes in merchandise priced at $1.00. As this would be the franchise's first store in the Midwest, Just A Buck was equally eager to work with Kwan and her family. “We did a lot of work ourselves, but Irving was like a supervisor,” Kwan says. “He was always truthful; he told us what we were doing right, and what issues he had reservations about.”

Although Just A Buck provided extensive support to the aspiring entrepreneurs, Kwan still relied on Irving and SCORE for help. Irving helped the family arrange a financing plan that gave Kwan and her six brothers and sisters an equal stake in the venture. While the franchise opportunity indeed looked promising, Irving reminded Kwan that business success does not come without risk. "The franchisor wanted us to get a 10-year lease on a store, but we initially wanted only three years, in case things didn’t work out," Kwan explains. "Irving helped us understand that risk is a part of doing business, and that we would benefit in the long run."

With the help of an attorney, Kwan negotiated a very favorable long-term lease on a retail site. In November 1995, the family officially opened the Memphis Just A Buck store. After a slow start, the business began to build a solid flow of customers. "It’s been a true immigrant success story," Kwan says, adding that her SCORE counselor deserves a share of the credit. "Irving was genuinely concerned about the future of our business," she says. "It was nice to have someone like him to lean on, and to share questions or concerns with. I hope he realizes how much of an impact he had on our business."

Taken from :
http://www.score.org/success_just_a_buck.html


Just A Buck Just A Buck Reviewed by Bang ELMU on 10:18 AM Rating: 5

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