Reno’s Jenifer Rose incorporates community into office supply business
RENO, Nev. — Jenifer Rose admits when she opened My Community Store seven years ago, it probably wasn’t the best time to start a new business.
Back then, the country — and Nevada in particular — was in the throes of the Great Recession, and Rose’s business struggled to stay afloat.
“The first three years I was in business, it was sheer hell,” Rose recalled during a telephone interview with NNBW.
However, her office supply store persevered through the tough times and now is poised for a massive growth spurt.
Originally, My Community Store had a product line of 5,000 items, which eventually grew to 15,000 and has since expanded to 60,000 items, incorporating supplies for breakrooms and bathrooms that other office retailers won’t carry.
That growth is being parlayed into a new location — Rose plans to open a showroom at 777 S. Center St. in Reno in May.
The showroom gives clients the chance to look over supplies and furniture, rather than Rose and staff having to make multiple trips to clients’ office to share samples of product lines.
Rose said My Community Store, which currently employs a staff of nine, will maintain its administrative office at 1140 Financial Blvd., No. 600, in Reno.
Being active in the community
Part of the reason My Community Store has transformed from a struggling entity to a fixture in the office supply market is Rose’s passion for community service and business-to-business networking.
Among her roles, Rose serves as a board trustee and Treasurer for the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, as well as chair of the statewide 2018 Economic Development Conference.
To further promote herself and her brand, Rose has co-produced and hosted the Reno-based The Plush Life, an interactive TV show on NBC that highlights local businesses, charities and events.
“Being very active in the community has got me in front of many well-respected businesses, and I love working with all these unique entities,” she said.
My Community Store has also always incorporated community service as part of its mission. The online store has donated a percentage of every business’ online purchase to a nonprofit of their choice.
Further, one of the new features My Community Story offers is a Charity of the Month.
The featured charity for March is the Washoe County Child Advocacy Center, a nonprofit that investigates and assists victims of child abuse.
Competing with big business
Through her efforts over the years, Rose has landed large contracts, such as with Washoe County, which she said is proof that a small retailer can compete with office supply and furniture big-box giants.
“One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is dealing with perceptions that small businesses have a hard time competing with big companies,” Rose said. “People figure that if they go with a big-box store, the items are less expensive or they have more resources. But sometimes, perceptions don’t always meet reality.”
Rose is no stranger to building successful companies, having worked in the office supplies industry since her ‘20s.
She began working at Horizon Data Supply in the Central Valley area of California before moving to the Reno area when the company expanded operations to northern Nevada.
She left to start her own company, Future Computer Technology, in 1998 and built it into an Inc. 500 company before selling to a new owner. She then bought an existing, undisclosed office supplies franchise and owned it for five years.
Moving forward, she said she is eager to see how well her latest venture, My Community Store, is primed fro growth.
“I think people have and will continue to appreciate the interaction and service that we have to offer,” Rose said.
The $625,000 deal included a low-interest SBA 504 loan facilitated by Nevada State Development Corp., the state’s largest SBA 504 loan provider. City National Bank partnered in the financing package.