With three young boys, key to key work at their newly reopened store and a second business in development, Jeff Werner and his fiancée Sammy Lippoldt have traded free time for a chance at success.
Werner, 29, purchased the Sears Hometown Store in Village Square Mall in June and opened the doors earlier this month. Werner, a Dodge native, worked at the store while attending high school through his time at Dodge City Community College.
Now, Werner and Lippoldt’s daily schedule bulges.
It’s “non-stop,” Werner said. “We pretty much work all the time.”
But business has been good, Lippoldt, 26, said. “It’s nice to see the community come back to the store.”
“It’s been an awesome thing to see,” she said. Revenue has improved compared to last year, she added, guessing the bump has been driven by store improvements and a growing faith in the economy.
Werner worked at the home appliance, lawn and tools store while attending high school and later while at Dodge City Community College. He purchased the store from Franklin Monterroza in June at an “incredible price” without needing to secure a loan, Lippoldt said. Instead, the two relied on personal savings and help from family. That puts them at a lot of personal risk, she said.
“It scared me a lot, at first.” She left a job and a home in Hays to move to Dodge. “I wasn’t real open to it, at first, but if you don’t take a chance, you won’t really know.”
The store has also become a place for family. Their 2-year-old son Bradley can often be found with the riding lawn mowers while his brothers, Trenton, 9, and Zachary, 7, help out around the store, Lippoldt said.
Purchasing the store hasn’t been without its sacrifices, though.
The pair planned to marry next June but had to push the date, and during business hours, one or both can be found talking with customers, arranging deliveries or managing one of their five employees amidst rows of glossy new name brand appliances. Some days, they work from 10 a.m. till 9 p.m., Werner said. This is after dropping the kids off at school, Lippoldt said.
As franchisers, Sears provides the inventory, but the rest of the business is up to them, from payroll to maintenance. And while warranty repair is now performed in Garden City, Werner sees an opportunity in opening his own Sears-authorized maintenance shop in Dodge, adding one more thing to an already full docket.