The leaders of BareBones WorkWear, Stu Nelson and Mason Moore, launched their first franchisee owners in December with a temporary location near the RC Willey and Sportsman’s Warehouse stores in Rocklin.
The new franchise owners, Aaron and Ronee Robertson, hope to open their permanent store in the same shopping center by the end of this month, but told me they were raring to get started earlier.
“We wanted to open up during the holiday season,” Aaron Robertson said. “We felt that we had a product that would be useful to a bunch of folks, and we didn’t want to sit on our inventory. We’re pretty scrappy and entrepreneurial. We said, ‘Let’s try to get in something.’”
Their temporary location, at 6696 Lonetree Blvd., has just 1,200 square feet, about a third of the space they will have in their permanent location, but the Robertsons decided to squeeze into it. The couple’s children – Jacob, 16; Bekah, 19; and Caleb, 21 – have stepped up to help their parents in the business, and even Ronee Robertson’s parents, Ron and Terry Stewart, have been putting in hours at the store.
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“It’s a whole different life for the kids,” said Ronee Robertson, who left a part-time job at the Rocklin Police Department to run the store. “They’re used to Mom working a few days at the police station. Now I’m working every single day.”
She also is spreading the word about the range of products offered by BareBones, primarily a retailer of uniform clothes for medical, construction and retailer offers.
“People ... see the BareBones WorkWear name, and if they don’t have a construction job or something, they think there’s not anything in there that they would want,” she said. “But we sell ladies’ jackets, ladies’ shirts. We have some really cute scarves and Carhartt vests. We sell dog beds made out of the Carhartt material, and we sell just regular belts and socks, long underwear and long-sleeve T-shirts. There’s something for everyone.”
Aaron Robertson will keep his job as chief deputy director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, but he took six weeks of vacation to help get the temporary store up and running. Robertson spent 29 years in the U.S. Marine Corps before going to work with state parks in 2012. He was deployed twice to serve in the Iraq War, his wife said, and after so much time apart, they were both looking for something to do together. Their company moniker, Aaronee Ventures, combines their two names.
“We’ve been wanting to own our own business and do something that really fits who we are for years now,” Aaron Robertson said. “I wanted to make a difference in my local community, and I’ve always been entrepreneurial.”
He called BareBones’ corporate office in Sacramento about a year ago, and the couple began franchisee training in March.
Nelson and Moore, who started their company about 16 years ago, are personally training the Robertsons, and the training process is helping finish and refine the BareBones franchising manual. BareBones has six locations, including stores in Truckee, West Sacramento and Rancho Cordova.
“Aaron and Ronee were smart and realized that they were going to benefit more than other franchisees going forward because we had to invest our time,” said Nelson, chief executive officer of BareBones. “They were getting the owners and the creators of this brand right at their side.”
Moore, the company’s chief operating officer, added: “They get the advantage of all the lessons we’ve learned and all our failures. It’s down on paper, so they shouldn’t make the same mistakes. They can get up and running and be successful quickly.”
Nelson said the training process exposed emotional elements to franchising that caught him by surprise.
“I didn’t realize the rewards we would have in helping someone achieve the American Dream,” he said. “You look in their eyes, and they’re living the dream, and we helped to create that. I’m not sure what giving birth is like, but if it’s like this, I can’t wait to sell more franchises.”
A BareBones franchise sells for $35,000, Nelson said, although there are discounts for franchisees who open multiple locations. A 3,000-square-foot store would cost roughly $300,000 to launch, including inventory and other expenses, Nelson said.
Aaron Robertson said that he and his wife hope to open a few more BareBones stores in the future, but their focus is on building customer loyalty at their temporary location. To do that, they focus on making each customer happy, something Ronee Robertson said she appreciates more now, as a store owner, than she did when working retail in her younger days.
“It’s your livelihood,” she said. “Just in the one month we’ve been open, we’re having repeat customers already. We’re having people come in and tell us that their friends or their family members told them they had to come here, (and) it’s not just because of the clothes or anything we sell. They’re telling people how nice we are.”