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Founder restores work-life balance by selling Shopify store

Adrian Alfieri profile picture

Adrian Alfieri

Dec 14, 2022

Clothing Rack

Barn Chic is a DTC apparel marketplace offering organic and sustainably produced products for babies and toddlers. This year, the brand was acquired by OpenStore for an all-cash offer.

We sat down with Barn Chic’s founder Sarah McElvain to dive deep into how she quickly reclaimed autonomy over her work/life balance after selling her store to OpenStore. 

In our conversation with Sarah, our team covers a range of topics including:

  1. How OpenStore offered Sarah a smooth transition forward

  2. Why legacy marketplaces and investors weren’t a good fit

  3. Reclaiming work/life balance with the help of OpenStore

“Selling my business to OpenStore changed my life for the better. It’s incredibly freeing to move on from this chapter of my life, while also knowing that I’ve passed my brand along to good people and experienced operators.”

OpenStore’s path forward to help combat overwhelm

Sarah had never considered selling Barn Chic until OpenStore reached out to her. 

2021 was a wild year for retail due to supply chain disruptions and shipping delays. Her spring stock arrived in the summer, so she played catch up for a few months. 

The fall season was well underway when she received an email from OpenStore, telling her they wanted to buy her business. She noted the message but selling wasn’t on her mind. Come October, supply chain disruptions only worsened.

Sarah was at her wit's end — she has two kids at home, and her house was overflowing with boxes of inventory. Opening a brick and mortar was never in the plan, but she found herself researching retail space or, at the least, a warehouse. While the increased inventory led to more orders, it also created a need for hiring additional staff.

Piecing together shifts with her three part-time employees, Sarah felt like she was on a hamster wheel and wondered, “What am I doing?” 

Sarah went back to her mailbox and found OpenStore’s email. She’d seen many fellow children’s boutiques go out of business, and the owners just had to go back to what they were doing beforehand. The idea of reversing her career trajectory overwhelmed her.

She also had no idea how she’d deal with all of her inventory if she closed. 

Finally, Sarah decided to go through OpenStore’s simple, no-obligation valuation process to see what she could sell Barn Chic for. 

OpenStore’s seamless application process

After connecting her Shopify Account to OpenStore for an accurate pulse on her store’s performance, Sarah quickly received OpenStore’s offer, and was pleasantly surprised by the number. 

She and her husband had far lower expectations about what they could get, but now selling to OpenStore felt like a great option. 

“When I looked at the OpenStore team on LinkedIn and in press coverage, I was impressed by their legitimacy and credibility. This established trust and helped drive my decision to sell the brand to OpenStore – the strength of their team.”

Hitting roadblocks with investors and marketplaces

Now that Sarah was comfortable with the idea of selling her business, and with the added bonus of OpenStore’s attractive offer, she shopped around for counter offers. 

She posted on Shopify’s Exchange marketplace, which Sarah notes “takes a 15% cut of the profit, which is crazy.” They gave her a shockingly high valuation that she immediately knew was inflated. 

She had a general idea of how to find the cut and dry value of her business; you look at two or three X of your net profit at the end of the year. OpenStore’s offer mirrored the fair and expected price, and she confirmed that number with other platforms. 

Even though it was unusually high, the Shopify valuation didn’t include inventory stock.

Inventory is a massive burden that would be frustrating to handle separately. In addition to evaluating prices through the Shopify marketplace, Sarah chatted with a potential private buyer who wanted a business for his wife to keep in the family. 

Not only did this buyer seem serious, but Sarah appreciated his intentions with her store since her business was close to her heart.

Between these exchanges and the chaos of the Thanksgiving holiday, Sarah let her OpenStore offer expire. Then, the angel investor completely ghosted her; she never heard from him again.

“When you receive offers elsewhere, they’re not necessarily serious or conclusive. With OpenStore, the offer means they’re ready to buy and they’re good for it.”

Returning to OpenStore: a warm welcome from the start

Sarah pivoted back to OpenStore and updated her brand info to pursue another priced offer.

OpenStore understands that a lot can change for a small business on a month-to-month basis, and makes reprices as easy to obtain as the first price. To receive her second offer, Sarah didn’t have to fill out any paperwork outside of a simple P&L statement.

Sarah received a new offer that was only 1K off of the original one and accepted it on the spot. 

She especially liked how each offer was personalized — she wanted to sell her business to someone who would care for it and seeing that OpenStore gave her an offer specific to Barn Chic helped her see that they had a vested interest in doing right by the brand. 

“OpenStore got me the reprice as fast as they could with the variables that were in play. Considering how intense BFCM weekend is, I was thoroughly impressed.”

Charting a path forward with a focus on enjoyment

Sarah accepted OpenStore’s offer on a closing call on December 10th, 2021. The final closing was just two weeks later on December 27th – a fast turnaround by any industry standards.

Previously while running her company, Sarah often felt overwhelmed and wasn’t an expert in every part of the business. 

In transitioning Barn Chic over to the OpenStore team, Sarah saw how experienced and dedicated all the team members are to Barn Chic’s success giving her the peace of mind to focus elsewhere. 

Reclaiming work/life balance with the help of OpenStore

Sarah’s found a good balance in her life now; she works at her kids’ elementary school as a substitute teacher a few times a week. She used to be a teacher full-time, so she loves being back in the classroom while having the bandwidth to dip her toes into whatever she pleases. 

More than anything, she loved having this past summer at home with her kids (and without inventory!). Her family enjoyed traveling, which they haven’t been able to do in so long.

With the help of OpenStore, Sarah was finally able to reclaim the balance across both work and life that she’d been seeking since launching the company. 

“For the first time since starting Barn Chic, I was able to take a vacation and didn’t turn on my computer once. Thanks to OpenStore, I’ve found a real balance.”

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