The brother-sister team of Sherry Idoux and John Recar shared a dream — going into business with some sort of retail store that provided gift items.
That dream became a reality this spring when they opened Outside the Box, a retail gift shop in the Rosana Square Shopping Center. Idoux and Recar said their store specializes in unique gift items with something for everyone.
Idoux and Recar had previous business experience working with the public. Recar had done corporate sales and had been in the bar business. Idoux worked in the administrative end of the real estate sector before starting a carpet cleaning business with her husband. Both say their previous skills have helped them in this joint endeavor.
Q: Why did you decide to go into business together now?
Recar was in the midst of a job change when he approached his sister with the idea.
“I brought this up to Sherry of opening my own place and getting to know people,” he said. “I told her I always wanted to do this and asked her to think of what fun it would be. She thought about it for about a month and said, ‘Why not? Let’s do it.’ ”
The twosome set out at first selling afghans, blankets and baby items handmade by their mother, Shirley Recar, through home parties. Next they started going to craft shows at churches, schools and other places.
At these shows, Idoux and Recar made friends with other vendors and built their eclectic inventory. After a year on the gift show circuit, the pair decided to open a retail location.
“We figured if we just had a place somewhere we’d be OK,” Recar said.
Idoux and Recar looked for a location for about two months in the southern Overland Park area.
“Places were either too pricey or we couldn’t get people to work with us,” Recar said.
With their own funding, and some financial support from their father John Sr., Idoux and Recar found a storefront at Rosana Square.
“When we saw this spot it needed very little work, and it was great exposure on the corner,” Idoux said.
Q: What sets your gift store apart from others?
Recar said the store sells items that few others may carry. In addition, Outside the Box’s product mix focuses on locally made items, those made primarily in the United States as well as products that benefit charitable organizations. Products include candles, bowls, glassware, soaps, lotions and more.
“I guess we’re both compassionate people,” Idoux said. “We wanted to make it an outlet for charitable products and support things that mean something.”
The store has products that benefit such causes as breast cancer or feeding orphans. There are also items sourced from Fair Trade organizations. Some vendors are closer to home — like their mother, Shirley.
“Her things are under the brand Squirrelly Shirley. It’s a nickname she picked up,” Idoux said.
“We’re constantly evolving and getting new things all the time,” Recar said.
Q: How is it to work with family?
“We’re fine together,” Recar said. “We’re only a year apart and we’ve always been buddies.”
“We generally like each other … and together we have a good dynamic,” Idoux added.
Q: What’s been your greatest challenge?
“The uncertainty,” Recar said. “That, and the financial stress and working all the time. We were just going on faith.”
Outside The Box is open seven days a week, and Recar and Idoux take turns working; they haven’t hired any outside employees yet.
Idoux said building up a customer base for the store has been a bit stressful.
“We’re beginning to get repeat business,” she said. “Most people like the idea when they come in.”
Recar and Idoux say business has steadily grown since open their doors to the public in March. The brother and sister team have a positive attitude about increasing their business.
Q: What’s next?
“I honestly see us having another place in the Waldo area where I live,” Recar said. “I think the concept works well.”
Idoux said the future is “wide open” for Outside the Box.
“We’re what we want to be for now,” she said. “People have been very receptive to our concept of buying things that are local and supporting causes — they’re ready.… You can make money and still do something that’s means something.”