The future is bright for Uptown Cheapskate as we celebrate increased sales and a record number of new stores
There were a few silver linings for Uptown Cheapskate resale clothing franchise after the pandemic: from prime real estate locations opening up, to continued expansion, to increased sales and brand recognition. For entrepreneurs looking for a smart retail investment, Uptown Cheapskate is a potentially high-profit business in the booming resale clothing industry. Our core values and commitment to giving back to the community and promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle are reasons entrepreneurs should open an Uptown Cheapskate.
Already outpacing the growth of retail, the resale clothing industry is expected to reach $64 billion in five years, according to a study from popular online consignment store ThredUp. Uptown Cheapskate is in the right place at the right time. Our franchisees not only survived the pandemic, experiencing consistent sales, but we’re also getting industry accolades such as Franchise Chatter’s 10 Best Apparel and Accessories Retail Franchise opportunities of the year.
We recently spoke to Uptown Cheapskate Director of Franchising Dave Martell on the Uptown Cheapskate podcast about why now is the time to open an Uptown Cheapskate franchise.
Check out the full podcast episode here.
Why is now such a good time to be in the resale clothing business?
There are several reasons that now is a great time to open an Uptown Cheapskate and the biggest is the way that shopping resale has been adopted into society as more people become conscious about how they spend their money, as well as its impact on the environment. This concept shows a lot of value there. People can dress fashionably at a fraction of the cost of purchasing these items at regular retail prices and they can also help recycle these items and keep them out of landfills. The textile industry is the second-largest polluter in our society. People are starting to catch on, especially the younger generations, the millennials, the Gen Zers, they’re all about it. The adoption of secondhand shopping into people’s lives is a big deal. As we hit difficult economic times, people are looking for ways to save money. We are attracting more people as well with the look and feel of our stores. We’re building out quite an upscale resale store experience where more people as they look to dip their toes into shopping second hand are more likely to come in and feel comfortable shopping.
Uptown Cheapskate is at the forefront of reducing the stigma associated with second-hand shopping. Your stores are beautiful, well lit and almost feel like a store at the mall. Even during hard economic times, your customers don’t get the experience where they feel like they’re in a spot where they’re saving money. They feel like they’re in a high-end, resale clothing store. Tell us about that value you bring to customers.
That’s what separates our stores from other second-hand stores. We’ve worked hard to elevate the brand and store experience to create a chic boutique look and feel. Our stores are easy to shop and well organized by size and color which saves our customers time. They’re not having to dig through jam-packed racks. The value is there to help people save money and enjoy the benefits of shopping secondhand, all across the board.
In your role in franchise development, how important is it that you bring on people who understand the role that Uptown Cheapskate plays in their communities?
I think for any business owner to be successful in entrepreneurship they have to have a passion for it. It’s a lot of work and time and obviously a large financial investment, plus, there’s risk involved. It’s no small feat to go into entrepreneurship. I think it’s important for people who choose to open an Uptown Cheapskate understand those values. They help people save money, help people recoup cash from clothes they’re no longer wearing, and it helps the community by opening a store where people can do that and recycle clothes and accessories. Our best franchisees understand those values. They have a passion for working with the local community even to the level of philanthropy and giving back, as we get a lot of donated products in our stores. Franchisees work with local charities or nonprofits to donate and put the product we can’t sell back to good use.
This was an unprecedented year in many ways and many people started looking into entrepreneurship. Have you experienced this surge of interest in Uptown Cheapskate?
When the pandemic hit there was a slowdown because people didn’t quite know what was going on. Towards summertime people started feeling less confident in their nine to five corporate lifestyle. People started getting interested in being their own boss. It’s been an awesome year for us. Obviously, our stores struggled having to close for a couple of months last year, and luckily they were able to take advantage of some government stimulus to keep things going. We saw several of our existing franchisees over the last year expand to another location. We had over a dozen new franchisees come into the system. And I’m working with half a dozen others now that are close to taking that final step to becoming a franchisee. We’re excited about what the future holds. The majority of our stores saw their best March and April ever as people got comfortable going out and shopping, things opened up and people had the money to spend. It’s an exciting time for us. We’re looking to open up more stores this year than we have in any other year that we’ve been in business since 2009. The future is bright for Uptown Cheapskate.
One of the reasons I would imagine that you’re thinking about opening up a record number of stores in 2021 is because there’s so much real estate opportunity right now as a result of the pandemic. It’s one of the silver linings for entrepreneurs.
It is. Pre-pandemic it was probably at its most difficult point for us to find affordable retail space in good areas because the economy was booming and there was little inventory. Unfortunately, during the pandemic many businesses did not make it, which opened up inventory for individuals who want to open an Uptown Cheapskate allowing them more opportunity to negotiate a favorable lease, which ultimately helps profitability on that front end. The softening of the real estate market has made it easier to find good spaces that are at a decent expense where stores can be profitable.
What qualities do you look for in a potential owner? What kind of background should they have in order to succeed as an Uptown Cheapskate owner?
First and foremost a strong work ethic. Entrepreneurship is not necessarily an easier lifestyle than a nine-to-five corporate job. But, I think the entrepreneurial person who is interested in becoming an owner and finds fulfillment in it sees value in being their own boss, building something for themselves and they don’t shy away from the work it takes. That work ethic is going to be important, especially on the front end as a franchisee is in the store quite a bit over their first year in business. The second most important attribute would be really good people management skills. Our franchisees rely heavily on retail paid employees, so being able to manage and train retail paid employees and lead them is important. I’d say our best franchisees are pretty high-energy and go-getters and that kind of bleeds down to their employees and they find employees that emulate that kind of go-getter, high-energy attitude. Our most successful franchisees are lifelong learners and realize entrepreneurship is never stagnant. If you’re stagnant, you’re probably going downhill. You always need to be learning how to become better at running your business and making adjustments and obviously, our team at corporate is charged with helping franchisees find ways to become better and training and motivating them.
All your franchisees talk about the support from Basecamp as the parent company. The entrepreneurs that join the Uptown Cheapskate franchise network have different backgrounds. Some are from corporate America, some were in C suite level positions. Then you guide them so that they can have a business model that they can follow and get established and become the success stories that they ultimately are.
The whole idea with a franchise is taking advantage of the many years of experience we have running the stores and the tools and training we’ve developed to take the guesswork out and mitigate some risk of going into business for yourself. Having a proven concept and a brand that’s already established can shorten the learning curve and the ramp-up of a business and get it to profitability much quicker than taking the true entrepreneur path and reinventing the wheel and making the mistakes and figuring it out yourself. That’s the true value of a franchise. It also takes a certain person. The true entrepreneur wants to reinvent the wheel and figure it out themselves. That’s where they find their passion. The franchisee has the entrepreneurial spirit where they want to build something for themselves, but they see the value in not having to go out and learn it and risk so much, as most startup businesses do fail.
Why is Uptown Cheapskate the right brand to invest in?
It’s the right brand for someone who likes the idea of working with people and having a lot of interaction managing people and talking with customers. Maybe they love fashion and see the value of second-hand and want to bring that value to a community. This industry has exploded over the past several years. In 2019 second-hand fashion was a $28 billion industry. I started here in 2013 and it was a $5 billion industry. That growth is expected to continue and reach even up above $60 billion over the next several years. It’s an exciting time to take advantage of this change in consciousness as we are more aware of our impact on our environment and want to be more sustainable. Not many businesses can be this green. We’re literally getting our products from people who’ve already purchased them and then giving them back to the community through selling that product. It’s a lot of fun and something to be proud of. You’re not just printing $2 t-shirts, selling them and creating more waste. You get to be a part of the solution.
We’re excited and looking forward to a strong year and then the years afterwards too. There is a lot of energy and excitement with our franchisees. They’re really taking this to new levels and with 87 stores now and over 100 by the end of this year, the sky’s the limit.