A community-business partnership to benefit the O’Connell Youth Ranch Creates passive income for the ranch, every month, as a percentage of profits Creates 4 permanent jobs exclusively for ranch residents (current or former) Helps make the ranch a household name again
Small to no risk to the ranch itself. Amazing long-term benefits if it works. People want to give to something exciting and meaningful, to give to something that manifests a story worth telling.
Business is sustainable after it gets off the ground. Donors can give one time to create a permanent asset for the ranch.
Donors kickstart the operation. No additional funding is necessary after initial funds. The project would need a building, an initial round of inventory, a sign, business licenses for $100, $500 for initial sales tax, and a few basic things like cash register, credit card machine, and office supplies. I think 150k would do it or maybe less.
Phase one: build the business for 1-2 years.
Phase two: once business is profitable enough to hire a manager, Addison can have more free time to focus on his passion: creating content for life skills classes, online content, and being a training resource for staff
Ranch never pays anything to the business, but the business pays to the ranch monthly
Addison would himself hire and train boys to work for him.
Addison can partner with the ranch and make use of his gifts.
Addison with his education has higher credibility than the average person. “Dr. Shockley wants to create a business community partnership that would serve the ranch indefinitely, and he has a desire to be a long-term partner who also serves the ranch as life skills educator and staff trainer.” He has access to a working model of an extremely successful furniture store in Lee’s Summit, which the public in that county is excited about.
KU Small Business Advisor Will Katz says this business idea could succeed in Lawrence. People in the Lawrence area spend 33 million/year on furniture. However, there is a 16 million-dollar leak in furniture sales right now, meaning that 16 million dollars every year is spent on furniture by people in this area elsewhere. Translation: they drive out of town to places like IKEA and Nebraska Furniture Mart, where they spend their money every year, instead of shopping locally because there aren’t enough appealing options around. I asked the business consultant if he thought that meant a furniture store could do well in Lawrence, and he laughed and said it’s a “massive opportunity.”
90% of new small businesses fail. My family has started 5 businesses, and all of them succeeded. Their furniture store has been running strong for 10 years. Even during the current crisis, they are doing extremely well. It’s a tested and refined model we could use at the ranch. They are okay with me having all of the knowledge they’ve gained from refining the model and using it here.
A business community partnership like this is rare, valuable, and unlikely. It requires lots of pieces to fall into place.
Jim Clark says donors want to give to something big. This is big-ish, but not enormous. It could fit into a collage of new things offered at the ranch in the next 10 years.
The public is excited about the furniture store in Lee’s Summit, and customers drive from even far away to shop there. Many would shop at the ranch store or check it out. We would not have to start totally fresh.
An existing customer base would help ensure the new store has at least some customers to draw on who already shop at the store in Lee’s Summit, while the awareness grows amongst Lawrencians and Douglas County folks.
Marketing a new business can be difficult, but we’d have a head-start on spreading the word about the store opening, just because of the existing audience my family has, who would be informed. Affordable Facebook ads can target people who have specific interests in things like furniture, interior design, or social work.
Not that Addison is all that, but it would keep him at the ranch long-term. I got my PhD because I wanted to teach, have flexibility in my schedule, earn a good salary, and write. I still want those things, but rather than serving college kids, I want to serve people who are learning life skills. Mark Twain said, “don’t let school get in the way of your education.” A voice inside me says, “Don’t let college get in the way of your teaching.”
Other benefits include ‘at-cost’ (majorly discounted) furniture for houses and office; help furnishing ‘first apartments’ for boys who leave OYR at 18, etc.
The Boys Home Store could become Lawrence’s top furniture store
Help make the ranch a household name again
The product is high quality. They come wholesale-priced from places like Wayfair, World Market, and Target. Typical financial figures are: pay $15,000 for a load of furniture valued at $115,000 retail. Doubles or triples the money while remaining below prices for equivalent items elsewhere. Competition is destroyed. In Lee’s Summit they do 30-60k/month in sales. The product is diverse and appeals to a wide range of demographics and tastes.
Even if we put a store at the ranch on the outskirts of town, that’s still closer than the competitors people are already willing to drive to, 30 miles away or more (IKEA, NEB. FURN).
The ranch building would have a back room for furniture assembly, and a front floor room for selling furniture etc.
I imagine a building with a front porch, with chairs, so it’s a hospitable ranchy space on the outside with a simple furniture shop on the inside.