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Individually, the entrepreneurs loved different things: coffee roasting, fly fishing and photography.
So it took a unique, completely unrelated idea to bring them together and put them into a rapidly expanding business.
“I’ve always wanted to start a business and I was on Craigslist one day, noticing that most things that were posted for free were couches,” said co-founder Lance Hardings said. “I thought if I could get these couches and I could clean and fix them up, maybe it could be something. So, I thought I could give it a try and see if it works. “
Hardings and partners Nick Riechert and Doyle Vulcanis have expanded their mid-priced used furniture operation The Good Couch, from one Denver location into the Thornton area.
The company’s Metro North location opened April 2.
They specialize in the refurbishing and selling used couches, loveseats, sectionals and sets with the goal of providing quality used furniture at an affordable price. They use their own five-step restoration process to ensure that every piece of furniture is exceptionally clean available for free local delivery and move-in with any purchase.
A portion of their proceeds at The Good Couch are donated to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in order to give back to the community.
It originally started as a single idea to make a little money to pay for college: refurbish a couch and sell it, Hardings said.
“I knew Nick was just getting out of college and was about to move back to Colorado,” Hardings said. “I’ve known Nick since we were kids and we were both really serious about starting something successful. So, I called him and said let’s just start this business before we head into summer and to make a few bucks.”
Reichert, a Colorado native and a graduate of international business and economics from Franciscan University in Ohio, was working as a fly fishing guide in the summer and a coffee roaster during the school semester when Hardings, his long-time friend and an avid photographer, approached him with the idea.
“We were painting Nick’s house at the time and doing odd jobs. Nick was about to get married and I was thinking what we could do together before he got married.”
Reichert’s degree in economics shaped the way he looked at work - both as a fly fishing guide and beyond.
“There’s a lot I’ve learned from economics; you can understand how the world works,” he said. “The guiding and fly fishing industry taught me how everything interconnects and how you can affect change in your industry. I wrote my thesis on the guiding industry. In the end, it’s better for the rivers, the tourists, the environment, and the guides.”
That interconnectedness is what drew Reichert to go all-in with Hardings on The Good Couch concept.
“The Good Couch is one retail venue that is essentially localized,” he said. “I love local connections and being involved in the community. If someone can get out of debt when they move into Denver and make things more affordable, I won’t ever be resentful of making this choice.”
For Harding, it’s become a different way to express his love of photography.
“I didn’t have the business background that Nick had,” Harding said. “For me, I love photography and it’s because of photography I knew if I created a successful business, I could eventually travel the world, buy the lenses I wanted, and pursue the career I love.
Can’t stop with just one
With their first couch, the duo bought leather repair kits, fixed the couch up, sold it, and the next thing you know they were going to estate sales and contacting realtors and moving companies to see if they could come across couches.
They discovered two needs: people wanted to get rid of couches and people moving into Denver that didn’t want to spend $1,000 for a couch they needed.
“We couldn’t keep enough couches in inventory,” Reichert said. “We are selling couches so quickly. We found an unmet need, so we had to figure out the sourcing model right away.”
They think they’ve perfected their method for locating the best used couches, Reichert said, and have developed a propriatary five-step restoration process so that the couches are clean and in very good shape.
Growth has been fairly quick and organic. Beginning in April 2017, their inventory grew from filling one storage unit to two storage units and a warehouse. Now, they’ve added the new showroom/warehouse location and have filled spaces of up to 3,000 square feet.
At the same time, Reichert and Hardings have identified a need with Denver’s homeless population.
“One of the first sales was to a person getting his first apartment after being homeless,” Reichert said.
Moved by the experience, now a portion of every sale goes to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. They pick up couches for free, fix them up, sell them, and the exchange benefits both the donor and the recipient.
They say they are disrupting the used furniture mid-market scene.
“Used furniture stores have a huge markup, whereas we don’t,” Reichert said. “We only sell couches, loveseats, and sectionals in the $200-300 mid-market with free delivery anywhere in the Denver area. We focus on the re-use market and prefer not to see things go to the landfill.”
The hours can be long but worth it.
“We work six-day work weeks, 12 hours a day but for the past year, but it doesn’t feel like work,” Reichert said. “It is so rewarding to be partnering with Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.”
At the same time, it can be costly to learn along the way.
“We bought a trailer that wasn’t safe and we had to get rid of that,” Reichert said.” We bought an $8,000 truck that broke down on us on day one and we had to keep fixing it up, so finally had to make a change quickly to get rid of that. Now we have a fleet.”
Do your research, he said.
“We learned that the hard way,” he said.
It’s a good way to provide for his family, however.
Reichert said he gets to spend less time on the river, but he feels sure the payoff will come later.
“I had to make a hard call to remove myself from that [activity] this year and give all my time to The Good Couch, but I can help more people this way,” he said. “Someday I will get back to the fly fishing industry.”
Reichert is positive hard work will be key.
“You’re given opportunities, which you can call luck or blessings, but if you have right mentality to work hard and not pass them by, that will pay off,” he said. “We feel lucky to get this partnership with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. If we hadn’t been willing to put the time into this, we wouldn’t be here where we are. You’ve gotta realize your blessings and capitalize on them.”
“It’s still a journey,” he said. “I really want this to be successful for other people’s lives more than myself, which is what I think this is about.”
Vulcanis, the third partner, started as an employee and now co-owns the Denver location with Hardings.
“It sounded like a good idea. I studied business at Benedicton College in Kansas and was always interested in a small of business. I’m excited about where this business is going in the next couple of years. Hard work, organization, logistics, and great customer service [are key].”
The Good Couch posts inventory on online marketplaces like Facebook (@thegoodcouch), letgo, craigslist, offerup, and now their new website, www.thegoodusedcouch.com. Call or text a picture of your couch to donate: 720-201-0591 or 303-246-2174.
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