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Unique. One of a kind. Small town North Dakota success.
The story of MODE® is not your typical retail narrative. In 2006, seeing a growing need for maternity apparel, both comfortable and fashion forward, Ciara and Jim Stockeland set out to open their first retail store, Mama Mia. With no retail experience, but an attitude of tenacity, Mama Mia was off to a fast start.
By the end of 2006, the Stockelands were approached by a company storing a large quantity of designer overstock product that needed to be liquidated. On February 1, 2007 Jim and Ciara opened a second retail store next door to Mama Mia and called it MODE®. This store was intended to be a short term retail setup, but very soon proved to be a booming business. MODE® opened in a bare bones location, utilizing cardboard boxes as dump bins and folding tables for display, it began to draw crowds of people all clamoring for the next “MODE®” deal! Word quickly spread that MODE® carried designer product for $4.99 and $9.99 and the staff of 2 at Mama Mia soon grew to 6 between the 2 stores.
Seeking the counsel of several local businessmen as well as that of SCORE, a national non-profit which provides free business counsel to start up entrepreneurs, Jim and Ciara made the decision in the spring of 2008 to merge Mama Mia, which carried exclusive high end maternity, and MODE®, which carried exclusive high end product at discounted prices. MODE® was moved into the gorgeous Mama Mia space and thus was born the “MODE® Concept” – a designer outlet store in a boutique environment.
By October 2009, a second MODE® was opened in Maple Grove, MN. The first franchise was sold and opened in May 2011.
Our Vision (Q & A)
How was MODE® originally conceived and started?
We opened our first boutique retail store in 2006. In 2007, we were approached by a trucking company that had a large amount of overstock items they needed to liquidate. We originally opened MODE® with the intent that it would be a temporary pop up store. MODE® was wildly successful and so in 2008 we merged the outlet store with the boutique concept and have continued to successfully grow the brand.
What was your original vision for MODE®? Has that changed over time?
Our original vision was to open 3 stores in 5 years. By 2010 we had had so many inquiries about franchising that we decided to open up to concept to other entrepreneurs. We signed our first franchisee in 2011.
What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?
I believe that the franchisee needs to be passionate about the franchise they choose. They need to be passionate about the concept and the product.
Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?
Women love to shop, but in this current economy, although they are looking for a deal, they do not want to exchange quality for value. The MODE®price points and concept are accessible to the everyday consumer. Consumers can shop for designer deals in a boutique setting.
As a franchise concept, the ability to buy low and sell high and turn products quickly is an exciting concept to be part of. Also, because the franchise is still small, more time and attention can be given to each franchisee compared to bigger companies.
What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?
We are looking for devoted, hands on, entrepreneurs. We want store owners that care about their customers and want to be involved in the day to day tasks of their store at the beginning and then are ready and willing to look at the big picture as their franchise grows.
What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?
Our fees cover a variety of things. They give the MODE® franchisee the ability to buy designer product at drastically reduced prices. Our royalties also cover in depth support, where we take our franchisees from start to finish and everything in between.
How do territories work for your franchisees?
Because one of our goals is to place MODE® stores in smaller communities where they can grow and “own” the market, our territories insure that a franchisee is never in competition with another MODE® store. On the flip side, our territories also make sure that, in large metropolitan areas, we can completely saturate the market and allow stores to be placed in each suburb.
Why has the MODE® business model been successful?
Our concept works: buy low, sell high and do it quickly. The off-price industry is the trend retail is taking. Consumers want quality product but they want discounts and we offer that.
Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?
In 5 years, we will be dotting the landscape of the Midwest from Winnipeg to Laredo, Texas with MODE™ Franchises. In 10 years, there will be a MODE® store in every city that fits our demographic along the mid-western corridor.
What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?
Don’t leave the success of your business to your employees. Always be active, attentive and customer-centric. Be the face of your business and a model to your employees.
On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?
A MODE® store can be opened within 60-90 days.
What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?
I did not have a lick of retail experience before starting MODE®. Research, networking and a lot of hard work can take you anywhere you want to go!