Staying small gives owners control | Entrepreneur | Financial Post
Rheo Thompson was a living entrepreneurial legend in the Stratford community. In 1969, he began his own confectionary business from the basement of his home in the Ontario city, best known for the Stratford Festival theatre, simply because he felt he could do a better job at it than other local shops.
A few visits to farmer’s markets, and a co-op-type sales agreement with a local pharmacy put him on the map, before setting up his own Rheo Thompson Candies shop in 1970. As time went on, his little venture became one of the busiest retail outlets in the city.
When Purdy’s Chocolates owner Charles Flavelle dropped in, he marvelled that Mr. Thompson was doing as much business in his one store in a city with a population of 30,000 than two of Purdy’s best stores combined.
While success typically breeds success, Mr. Thompson took the idea of expansion off the table, despite countless offers, at one point even turning down an offer from President’s Choice to sell his signature mint smoothies.
A visit from a Laura Secord executive put it all in a nutshell for him. “He told me I was fortunate because I come in and only have to deal with one headache. For him it was 240.”
As he approached his sixties, it was time to think about a succession plan and by the end of 2002, the iconic store was up for sale. “My daughter didn’t show much desire to be in the business at the time,” he says. “And I didn’t want to hold on until I was in my seventies. My wife and I were in good health, so it was an extremely smart move.”
Mr. Thompson says the idea of expanding his reach never held any appeal. “Once a big company takes control, they can chew you up and spit you out,” he says.
Strange Random Chocolate Quote:
“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.” ― Katharine Hepburn
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Posted on July 14, 2012, in Article and tagged Business, Entrepreneur, Financial Post, Katharine Hepburn, Laura Secord, Ontario, President's Choice, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Thompson. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.