If you ever need a piece of replacement china, silverware, or crystalware, click your way to Replacements, Ltd. in Greensboro NC. Somewhere in their collection of 12 million pieces, they have what you’re looking for.
Founder Bob Page started his business part-time in the 70s, scrounging up interesting pieces from yard sales and flea markets. In 1981, he took the leap, quit his state job as an auditor, and opened up a real live store. Now he’s got the world’s largest store for replacement and new china, with annual sales over $80 million a year. By all accounts, he’s still the same modest guy that he always was.
In 1993 when I was a first year MBA student, Bob dropped by our entrepreneurship class for some Q&A.
I asked him, “what issue kept you up at night when you first started your business? What issue keeps you up at night now?
“Money,” he replied.
If you’re ever in Greensboro, take the tour which runs through the showroom and into the warehousing and packaging space. It’s a great lesson in operations management, especially when you discover that this shop-full-of-breakables allows both staff and visitors to bring their well-behaved dogs. I once saw a German Shephard walking on leash around a thousand dollars worth of tail-level crystalware. He looked a little nervous. Pet and staff profiles here.