As one of ten children raised in a small Minnesota town, I experienced a childhood lifted straight from the pages of a Norman Rockwell book. We rode bikes to baseball practice, fished in the local river for whatever would bite, and delivered newspapers each afternoon through rain, sleet, or snow. (For stories about growing up in “A Simpler Time” you can read our blog).
In 1997, with a two year old son (Cannon) and soon to be “colicky” newborn identical twin girls (Ellie & Morgan) on the way, somehow it seemed like the perfect time to leave a great job as the national sales manager of a small retail chain and start a new store concept based on that childhood (my wife begged to differ). We opened our first location in the Mall of America in the fall of that year in a temporary lease, and were soon off and running!
Eventually my wife left her job in medical sales to help out, and over the years we’ve probably violated child labor laws as our children pitched in to help ship signs or dispose of used boxes after school and on weekends. And especially in December! One Christmas we were boxing wood replica airplane propellers and noticed our four year old twins coloring on those boxes with crayons. Some customers got the equivalent of original crayon art wrapping on their boxes that year.
We started our website, asimplertime.com, in the year 2000, which put us among the pioneers of the industry. We never imagined the site, which initially rarely got more than 3 orders in a day, would one day be the driving force in the company, or that we’d eventually need an actual customer service department to answer phones!
Our warehouse in Morrisville, North Carolina (near the Raleigh airport), is staffed by a wonderful group--- many of whom are parents of young children---who are far too talented for us to afford normally, but work here because of our very flexible scheduling. In fact, it’s not unusual to have spare offices turned into tent parties on weekdays when school is out, or to stumble over three story high cardboard box “forts” in the reception area.
We currently have a retail store in New Orleans, where my Louisiana born wife Lauren and I met while I was working there in the 1980’s. You can find us on the historic Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter, about 50 yards from the St. Louis Cathedral.
Many of our products are designed by (and exclusive to) us. We always welcome new ideas, plus any suggestions on how to do things better. We have real people answering the phone, and try to respond to emailed questions the same day whenever possible. And you’ll never have to keep (or pay for) anything that you’re not 100% happy with. Because that’s the way businesses treated their customers where I grew up, in…A Simpler Time.