This week marks two years that I’ve had A Cheep Tee. Needless to say it has been a challenge for me to understand a business that is a completely different “animal” to what I’m used to. The first year, my husband helped me get things up and running. He learned how the equipment worked on his own so we could keep my dad’s business alive! We reached out to friends, watched YouTube videos and burned a LOT of shirts. My dad, Randy, made it look so easy! He was always so good at remembering names of his customers and was generally pretty friendly. That’s how he was able to get, and keep, customers for over 25 years!
It wasn’t always that easy for him. When he first started out with Randy’s 3 in 1 shop on Sheridan in Peoria, he struggled. Like most people his age, he had a hard time learning the computer. I knew office things, writing letters, emailing, etc. and tried to help but he needed to learn how to design shirts and that I didn’t know yet. I would go visit him and he would sit in front of the computer, frustrated. He would say, “I’m sitting in front of a million dollars and can’t do anything!” Later, he found a friend, Heber, who volunteered to come over 3 nights a week and teach him. Dad was dedicated! He would learn as much as he could within the few hours Heber was there. Then, he would put his learning to use practicing the next day. Soon, he was learning on his own and focused on how he could get designs done quickly. He knew that would be the key to keeping his customers happy. He got it!
What most people don’t know, is that being an entrepreneur takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Something my dad was definitely not afraid to give to his new found business venture. You have to constantly learn new things, manage employees and worry about cash flow. Just because you own a business, does not mean you are rich. But the great thing about owning a business, is it does give you freedom to spend time with your family. Even if most of the time they are hanging out at your shop with you. My daughters and I did that with my dad. We helped him on our visits by folding shirts, sweeping the floor or just helping him design a shirt for a customer (or ourselves). Now, my daughters have helped me with the t-shirt shop. Family support is important to anything in life and I’m so grateful that I have that support.
I love listening to people tell stories about my dad. It always makes me tear up when someone says he would be proud of what we have done with the store. I hope that’s true! It’s a lot of work and money and without my husband and kids, it probably wouldn’t continue to exist.
I hope we can make my dad’s customers as happy as he did and continue to do business here in Peoria, Illinois. Where it all started!