Buying an Existing Business | Shopanova + Sole Sisters

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Sole Sisters Origin Story

Every business has a different origin story. Some are born as a solution to a problem; others are passion projects. For best friends Leann Wade and Nicole Garner, it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.

Leann had worked as an accountant for the Watermelon Patch, a fruit-stand turned boutique after Hurricane Katrina, before starting a family and becoming a stay-at-home mom. Similarly, Nicole was a school teacher before starting her family and becoming a homemaker.

The pair often dreamed of opening a boutique of their own, but the dream never seemed to evolve into a reality. As time passed, the Watermelon Patch began to trend downward, eventually going up for sale.

Nicole approached Leann about buying the Watermelon Patch, and the hard work began soon after. There are plenty of decisions one must make after buying an existing business. Should you rebrand or stick with the established name? How much of the old business do you want to hold onto? What direction are you taking in the new business?

Many of these decisions are informed by answering a simple question: What was the business’s reputation before you purchased it?

Because the Watermelon Patch had dramatically dipped in quality, Leann and Nicole’s decisions were somewhat straightforward. They changed the name to Sole Sisters, and they turned the business into a successful brick-and-mortar boutique.

When the pandemic caused many brick-and-mortar stores to close their doors in 2020, Leann and Nicole knew they needed to find a way to keep cash flowing. They changed their point-of-sale system, opting for an option that allowed them to sell both in-person and online.

“We knew with our store, a lot of our shoppers were from Arkansas and Texas, and we couldn’t continue to get that returning shopper. So that geared us towards moving more towards the website.” (10:58)

Transitioning to a hybrid of online and brick-and-mortar stores presents several challenges, many of which revolve around tracking inventory. Because Leann and Nicole’s store doesn’t have a separate storage facility, all of the business’ products live on the sales floor, causing further inventory issues.

The Sole Sisters were able to handle the transition gracefully, starting by listing only a small portion of their inventory online, allowing them to create a system for pulling stock from the floor once it sold online.

“Just start out slow. If you’re going to go into eCommerce and you’re really nervous about it, you don’t have to put your whole store online. We have most of our stuff online now, but we don’t have everything. It’s okay if you have ten of your products instead of a hundred of your products.” (12:58)

Ultimately, the biggest challenge the pair have run into is keeping up with the numbers. Luckily, Leann has a background in accounting, but that didn’t keep them from running into roadblocks along the way.

“If we don’t stay on top of the store, it will work us instead of us working it.” (15:09)

Like every business, they ran into their fair share of challenges, but Leann and Nicole have succeeded in creating a successful hybrid business that sells both online and in-person.

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