Ron Olson Story
NTY (New To You) Franchise Company was founded in 2006 by President Ron Olson. Since its inception, the company has skyrocketed to becoming one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., with a tried-and-true resale concept and a solid franchising business model.
Things got rolling in 2007, when NTY purchased the franchise rights for Clothes Mentor, a women’s resale store focusing on designer clothing, shoes and accessories. There are now more than 140 Clothes Mentor stores open nationwide.
Four years later, with a solid foundation in place, NTY expanded its offerings by purchasing the franchise rights for New Uses, a resale store for home goods such as furniture, artwork, and more. There are currently 12 New Uses stores. Just two years after that, in 2013, the next brand was introduced under the NTY Franchise Company umbrella. Purchased as Laptop Exchange and renamed Device Pitstop, the franchise buys, sells and repairs personal electronics. To date, there are 12 Device Pitstop stores open.
Continuing to follow its successful business model and recognizing a void in the resale market for kids and teens, the company created two new franchises from scratch in 2014: NTY Kids for newborns through preteens and NTY Clothing Exchange for teens and young adults. Both stores buy and sell name-brand clothing, shoes, and accessories, and NTY Kids also adds toys and baby equipment into the mix.
Rounding out its resale franchise offerings and boosting store numbers significantly in 2015, NTY Franchise Company purchased an existing kids resale store, Children’s Orchard, and merged it with NTY Kids. The name Children’s Orchard stuck, and the new total of 30 stores were revamped to fit the modern design and concept developed by the NTY team.
Chad Olson Story
NTY Franchise Company is rooted in family. Chad Olson, Ron Olson’s son, joined the company right off the bat in 2007, after gaining more than 13 years of management experience with Winmark Corporation (formerly Grow Biz International).
First on the docket for Chad was franchising Clothes Mentor. And with his extensive knowledge in business planning, store design, overall training, and more, he helped to develop the brand into what it is today. Chad is now the Chief Operations Officer for NTY Franchise Company.
From the executives and staff to store owners and their employees to communities and customers, NTY Franchise Company operates like a family. Strong relationships are forged. Problems are solved and successes are celebrated—together.
With the Olsons’ direction and the experience and commitment of the management team behind them, the NTY Franchise family is poised to continue to grow exponentially, just as it has in the last ten years. Click through the timeline below to learn more about the founding of NTY Franchise Company as well as Ron Olson’s previous experience with resale franchises.
With Ron Olson’s retail experience and his business partner’s franchise experience, they create Franchise Business Systems. The company helps entrepreneurs with proven, profitable business prototypes create franchises.
After a meeting with Martha Morris, founder of Play It Again Sports (PIAS), Ron and his business partner decide to purchase the franchise rights to PIAS. They begin franchising the business model across the United States.
After seeing the explosive growth of the PIAS franchise across the country, Ron begins to think: “Well, if this model is successful with sporting goods, what other retail businesses in the used-product category make sense?” Ron finds the next proven, profitable prototype, Once Upon A Child (OUAC), and the company purchases the franchise rights from Lynn and Dennis Blum in Columbus, Ohio.
Because Ron and his partner continued to buy other retail concepts in the resale marketplace, the name Play It Again Sports, Inc., no longer fit the company. They change the name to Grow Biz International.
Grow Biz International is recognized by both Forbes and Fortune as America’s fastest growing private company.
The initial public offering (IPO) was designed to raise the capital to continue the rapid growth of PIAS and to take the other resale brands national. Growth is phenomenal, with Grow Biz going to 1,000 locations across the country.
New management takes over Grow Biz International and changes the name to Winmark Corporation. The company remains public as WINA on the Nasdaq Exchange. Winmark continues to franchise the brands PIAS, OUAC, Plato’s Closet (PC), and Music Go Round. (Note: These brands are in no way affiliated with NTY Franchise Company.) Ron Olson retires in March of 2000, but remains a large shareholder in Winmark.
After getting restless in retirement, Ron Olson begins looking at new business opportunities. While on a trip to Columbus, Ohio, in 2005, Ron decides to have dinner with Lynn and Dennis Blum, who he knew well from purchasing the franchise rights for OUAC and PC during his Grow Biz days. During the get-together, the Blums talk to Ron about their brand Clothes Mentor. One thing leads to another, and Ron comes out of retirement to purchase the franchise rights to Clothes Mentor in October.
Once again, the Blums had a proven and profitable business model in Clothes Mentor. In addition, the brand had established a new type of resale, much different than what people were used to seeing in thrift and consignment shops. It was clean, organized, and focused on high-quality products—more like a regular retail store that happens to sell gently used merchandise.
Using the same successful formula from his Grow Biz days, Ron gets Clothes Mentor ready for prime time. NTY (New To You) Franchise Company is founded in 2006.
Ron’s son Chad Olson joins the company to start franchising Clothes Mentor. Like his father, Chad spent many years in management at Grow Biz International and later Winmark Corporation. He brings extensive knowledge in business planning, store design, POS technology, training, and more to the newly formed family company.
Who would have seen the recession coming: banks failing, home equity credit frozen, and “the sky is falling” mentality many were experiencing?
Though the Olsons have high hopes for NTY and Clothes Mentor, it’s a tough environment to start a company that requires equity and financing for franchisees to get off the ground. Fortunately, Ron and Chad are well capitalized.
The years of 2007 and 2008 are slow for NTY, only selling six franchises, but the interest in resale as a practical and fun alternative to shopping at regular, pricey retail stores grows. In 2009, business picks up and NTY Franchise Company gets rolling.
In addition to the original Clothes Mentor, Lynn and Dennis Blum had also founded a resale brand based on buying and selling home goods called New Uses.
Ron and Chad recognize that New Uses would be a good fit for NTY and purchase the franchise rights in June. They begin franchising within the year.
In September of 2013, NTY purchases the franchise rights for Laptop Exchange, which was founded by Mike Smith in Las Vegas, Nevada. NTY changes the name to Device Pitstop, and opens up a whole new category of resale that focuses on buying, selling, and repairing personal electronics.
Now well-established and highly successful, just a little more than seven years in, NTY Franchise identifies two underserved resale markets: young adults and kids. The company decides to launch its own franchises in these markets. Two company stores open in Minnetonka, Minnesota: NTY Clothing Exchange, a resale store for teens and young adults, and NTY Kids for newborns through preteens. The brands start franchising during the second half of the year.
An opportunity comes up for NTY to purchase Children’s Orchard, an established kids resale franchise with more than 30 stores across the U.S., and Ron and Chad jump on it. The company merges the new franchise with NTY Kids, opting to use the name Children’s Orchard but implement the modern store design, technology, and other features created for NTY Kids.