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Daily Inspiration: Meet Sarah Boehnlein

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Boehnlein.

Sarah, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
The idea came to me in December 2016 on a long car ride back to KC after visiting family in Indiana. I was unhappy with my corporate job and daydreaming of what I could do to be my own boss one day. (One thing that my husband and I picked up on shortly after we got transferred to KC in 2002 was how many people didn’t seem to leave their little “bubble” aka their part of town. I thought how cool would it be to bring different goods from parts of the city and region to people so they didn’t have to leave their little bubble.)

So that is when I took my idea to the drawing board. I wanted to get an old truck or van to make into my mobile shop. Something that had some character. I also had come up with the name The TruKC – having a little fun with the word truck to emphasize KC. (I also wanted to Include the Western Auto arrow in the logo. That was the first building/sign I noticed when driving into KC for the first time and loved it!) We didn’t end up getting a van or truck – but instead came across an old RV and I knew that was it. It had all the characters I was looking for! We spent most of 2017 gutting and repurposing it to make it my store on wheels.

I did my first official event with the RV completed & show ready in May of 2018. I spent the rest of 2018 and 2019 popping up around the greater KC area at different events and shows selling local & regionally made apparel, decor, housewares & gifts.

During this time, I also had started to get some of the goods that I personally made into a handful of other area stores on a consignment basis. That was starting to do pretty well and was another Avenue to get my name out there.

In 2020 things looked a little different for a while. I kept contemplating where I was going to take this business and the workload from my corporate job was getting too heavy. I also felt that my husband needed my help more with his new company. I got a wild hair and listed it for sale and in late summer sold it to a new entrepreneur that wanted a mobile business.

As businesses started to open back up, I continued to sell in area stores and by the end of the year, I was really wanting to go out on my own. I wanted to take this business to the next level and give a B&M a try even though that was not on my radar when I first got started.

The search for retail space started after the first of the year. It needed to be in just the right spot between our home and kid’s schools. I knew it needed to be somewhere in Lee’s Summit.

In March 2021, I signed my lease and started to gut the space with the help of my husband to make it my very own space. I went in with the full intention of doing both my full-time job and running the shop until I grew my business to where I felt comfortable leaving. By the time May rolled around and the shop was getting close to opening, I had decided that I would give my notice after not seeing light at the end of the tunnel with all the problems my full-time job was tossing my way. It was scary and exciting to go 100% out on my own but was ready for the new challenge ahead of me!

So here I am. Just a little over one month of having my very own storefront and love going to work, being my own boss and a sense of accomplishment that I did it.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Oh gosh – for sure hit some bumps along the way. We thought turning the RV into a shop would take a few months. It took almost an entire year to get it ready for me to use. I am pretty sure my husband was ready to kill me by the time it was completed! Then fast-forwarding to this year and getting the storefront ready had its ups and downs but not as many as with the RV.

And I am sure there will be more bumps along the way with only being opened now a month…

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I graduated from Purdue with a degree in business with a minor in marketing. I was fortunate to get a manufacturer rep sales job within the FoodService industry right after graduation. I spent 20 years in that industry with three different companies doing multiple roles within each organization. I always enjoyed the sales part of my job and helping others. I finally reached a point I was sick of working for “the man” and wanted to go out on my own. I am proud of my small business that started out of an RV and has now grown to having my very own B&M and continuing to sell in other stores and also offer some of the apparel & accessories I do myself at wholesale for other shops to purchase. I like that I am able to help support other local makers in my shop and getting to be engaged with customers that come into the shop.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
So many things come to mind.

– Finally making what I had been thinking into a reality.
– Doing something I look forward to and love.
– Having a creative outlet with store merchandising and creating apparel/hats.
– Proving to myself and others that I will make this business successful.
– Showing my kids and others that may be thinking of doing this that it IS possible if you work hard and put your mind to it.
– Giving my customers a unique shopping experience.
– Being my own boss and the good, the bad and the ugly that goes along with it.
– Being happy, life is too short.

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