How a former english teacher in Tokyo became the owner of a thriving Uptown Cheapskate franchise
Before Aaron Alvey became an Uptown Cheapskate franchise owner, he had never owned a business. After working as an English teacher for several years in Japan, Alvey was ready for something different. When he returned, he and his wife, Summer, made the decision to go into business for themselves. The couple wanted a business that would not only allow them to do well, but also to make a difference in the lives of those in their community. Uptown Cheapskate was the perfect fit, as we offer a sustainable shopping experience that helps young professionals save money on fashionable clothing, and helps to save the environment at the same time.
This is his story:
What did you do before you became an Uptown Cheapskate franchise owner?
Alvey: I was living abroad in Tokyo as an English teacher. Although I had a great time there teaching kids, having the opportunity to own my own business presented itself once I returned home to Utah. It worked out because I wanted to do something different that allowed me to make my own schedule. It’s been great seeing all of the hard work I put into my business come to fruition.
What is it about Uptown Cheapskate that made you want to buy into it?
Alvey: Uptown Cheapskate stands for something that I believe in: recycling. People are able to come in and either donate or sell their clothes to us and get cash in return. At the same time, we are able to then sell those clothes for an affordable price to our customers. By recycling these clothes we are not only making a difference, but also minimizing the carbon footprint that we have on the earth.
In the market Uptown Cheapskate is very different from Plato’s Closet because it’s much more upscale and high-end. Can you speak to that?
Alvey: We are an upscale version of a thrift store. We sell brands such as Madewell, Tommy Hilfiger, Kate Spade, lululemon and Free People. Although we’re in an industry where we deal with used items, being able to find high-end clothes that are in good condition and still trendy allows us to provide a unique experience for anyone who comes in to shop with us.
Some say the secret success to this business is to advertise that you buy clothes as opposed to advertising to come shop here. Why is that important?
Alvey: We all buy clothes. However, we all have clothes in our closet that aren’t being used, which is a great opportunity to come and sell those clothes for cash and then let those clothes be extended to another person.
What is it like to own a business that serves a need like this in the community — providing a great experience in a high-end environment yet they are saving so much money?
Alvey: I love that I have the opportunity to work with the people in this community. I love being a local place where they can come and sell or donate items that we recycle, ultimately giving these clothes a second life.
How does the support from corporate help you in your business?
Alvey: Having support from corporate is the biggest part of our business. We have 76 locations across the country right now, which is a pretty good testament to the processes and systems they have implemented. We’ve seen the benefits of putting them into place in a store that was once failing and we have since turned it around. It’s really been great for us.
What would you say to an entrepreneur who’s looking at Uptown Cheapskate as a business opportunity?
Alvey: I would tell them being an upscale resale store provides us an opportunity to thrive whether or not the economy is doing well. It will still be profitable if the economy is doing well. If the economy isn’t, it’s profitable because people still love to shop and buy great brands at an affordable price.
How does owning an Uptown Cheapskate franchise allow you to give back?
Alvey: Twice a year we have the opportunity to participate in the Fill-A-Bag charity event. Our awesome local community donates clothing for this event. We usually have more than 100 bins of clothing that we place outside. People look through them and fill up a bag with as many clothes they can fit inside it, all for $20. All of the proceeds go to a charity that builds schools in third-world countries. The last time we did it we raised nearly $2,000. We also donate our clothes three times a week to Friends of MS, a local charity that benefits people with that disease.
How does owning this business empower you? What are your goals in business?
Alvey: I love being an owner because it has brought so much joy to my life. Sometimes it’s a lot more work than anticipated, but it’s kind of like a baby. You tend to it, feed it, and then it will benefit and grow in the end. We want to have a second store in a nearby town. I believe we will continue to grow with the help of our social media and customer service we provide.