The Great American Hanger Co.
An interview with Devon Rifkin, founder of The Great American Hanger Co.
(FSB Magazine) -- When I was 23, I went to work in my father's warehouse in Miami. It sold store fixtures - mannequins, showcases, hangers - everything in a store that a store doesn't sell. I started to pay attention to the hangers when I noticed that every retailer who came in to buy supplies would also purchase hangers for his own home.
"Give me $500 worth of hangers for my house," a typical jewelry store customer said. When I realized there was no universally recognized place that specialized in selling high-quality hangers, I decided then and there to become the Hanger King.
In the same month I got married, bought an apartment, and used it as collateral to borrow $30,000 and start the Great American Hanger Co. (hangers.com). Then I started to travel the world to learn about the hanger business. I went to India, other parts of Asia and South America.
In a leap of faith, I bought $50,000 worth of wooden hangers from India, because they were the cheapest and the Indians spoke English. I started selling them to my dad's customers and to other store-fixture distributors.
I sold $25,000 worth of hangers in three months in 1999 and $500,000 the next year. Today we are one of the world's largest sellers of high-quality hangers, including lines designed for lingerie and suits. We did $8 million in sales last year, and I think we can definitely become a $100 million company.
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From the April 1, 2007 issue