In a year where many businesses are struggling to find a new way of doing things, Jay Beane came up with something that’s become more than he could have imagined. What began just over a year ago as a weekend project has blossomed into a fully formed business. Mr. Beane’s This & That has evolved the traditional family shop with an infusion of DIY ingenuity.
Mr. Beane’s This & That is a large scale department store in the body of a neighborhood corner store. A friendly environment where you’re just as likely to find a good conversation as a brand new bike. They carry a wide variety of goods, with inventory being replenished multiple times a week.
“I suppose you could call this renegade retail, because it’s almost subversive in that we are taking products from big box stores that they have written off, essentially, [then] selling it for less and creating a relationship [with customers],” Jay says.
Jay was between jobs at the beginning of 2020. As the job market was at a near standstill, Beane and his business partner and father, Jeffrey Beane, got into watching online auctions. With less of a business plan and more of an interesting diversion, the father and son team purchased some items to resell. When their experiment was more successful than they expected, they moved up to buying pallets of products and held a garage sale.
Holding weekend garage sales started eating up time and garage space, so they decided to get a warehouse space. “We had a warehouse out in Peninsula for six months. I would be there during the week building furniture and then posting it on Facebook. And then we would have a garage sale there once a month,” Jay says.
As demand continued to increase and customers requested more frequent hours, Jay and Jeffrey found that their experiment was becoming a proper business. Jeffrey found them a prime retail space between the Acme Fresh Market and the BMV on Wedgewood Drive in Ellet. On February 5 of this year, Mr. Beane’s This & That opened their doors.
“My dad just happened to find this one and the location was perfect.”
Combining Jeffrey’s knowledge of starting a business with Jay’s extensive retail experience, they were able to get up and running in a relatively short amount of time. “I had the retail background and a lot of friends who were able to help set things up and get feedback from,” Jay says.
Where Jeffrey handles most of the back-end work, Jay uses his customer service savvy to run the day-to-day operations. However, this is not just a two-person operation; it is truly a family affair. It’s common to find Jay’s mom, Sharon, or his wife, Vanessa, behind the counter or stocking shelves. The day I was in, Jay and Vanessa’s kids were there doing homework and their puppy was asleep behind the counter. It definitely makes for a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Sharon came up with the name, but Jay was hesitant until talking to friends about the planning of the store. “It worked out perfectly because it describes exactly what’s going on here,” Jay says. As Jay puts it, “It’s always different. It’s always changing. Things move so quickly that we’re constantly putting new stuff out.”
The shop is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays to restock and reset the sales floor.
“If you’re the last person who leaves Sunday and the first person on Wednesday, it’s not the same store” Jay says.
They receive new inventory at least once a week and often multiple times a week. Their stock covers just about everything you’d find in a big box store. Clothes, furniture, housewares, toys and exercise equipment to touch on a few categories. The ever changing selection adds to the excitement for the customers. The fear of missing out on what could be there today but not tomorrow helps drive return customers.
Word of mouth has also been a significant factor for the business. They have already seen an influx of customers coming in for the first time on the recommendations of regular customers. That organic building of the business has largely contributed to the quick success.
The biggest driver of word of mouth is customer service, and this is where Mr. Beane’s excels. As I was walking around the store looking at their wares, I witnessed how welcoming and helpful they all were with everyone who walked through the door. You can tell that they genuinely appreciate their customers.
Mr. Beane’s This & That wasn’t supposed to happen. A father and son experiment ended up rapidly growing into a family business in a year when it shouldn’t have worked. By using A DIY mentality to move ahead with the store, it brought the family closer together and now they are building relationships and excitement with their customers. As Jay says, “We want to get to know our people. We don’t want them to be a one-and-done transaction. That’s never my goal. I hope people want to keep coming back, because we’re a little bit different than everyone else.”
Mr. Beane’s This & That is located at 2420 Wedgewood Drive. They are closed Monday and Tuesday. They are open Wednesday through Friday 10am to 7pm, Saturday 11am to 6pm, and Sunday 12pm to 5pm. More information can by found on Facebook and on Instagram @mrbeanestnt
Michael (he/him) is a lifelong resident of Highland Square, a performance artist, a traveler, a writer, and a part-time mad scientist.
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