Donald Lester – Brohalla

Donald Lester - Brohalla

What’s the origin story of your business? 

About eight years ago we were visiting family in West Palm Beach, Florida and we went to a fish market to pick up some dinner. Next to the market, there was a store called The Man Cave.  It was a men’s consignment store. Most associate consignment stores with clothing.  In this particular store, they only had a small selection of high-end clothing, such as suits and things. The rest of the store walls were covered in sports stuff, fishing things, WW1 and WW2 memorabilia, and more. It was the coolest store I had ever seen. I thought it was a unique idea and wanted to bring one back to Murfreesboro. I am an advocate of shopping locally, and there are a lot of women’s boutiques but not a lot of stores for men. I had to let the idea take the back burner for a while, as I was already the owner and general contractor for L&L Contractors. The building next to our office was put up for sale, so I bought it with the intention of expanding our office. Then I remembered the idea and realized it was the perfect opportunity to start Brohalla.

What’s an obstacle that you’ve had to overcome to build your business?

I would have to say building the store. We started construction right around when Covid hit. The building needed to be completely remodeled. We started the remodel in December and planned on the project only taking six months. I ordered the storefront window package around mid-December, but we didn’t receive the windows until May. With the project taking much longer than we thought, the costs of things doubled and tripled in some cases. It took a year for us to finally finish. Another problem I faced was finding the right POS. Being a consignment store instead of a retail store meant I had to find the right employee for the job. A final obstacle was storage. When creating the space I didn’t realize how much back room we were going to need. At the moment, we have two offices acting as our storage rooms.

What is unique about owning and running a business in Murfreesboro?

I would have to say the community. Murfreesboro has become a central hub for people coming from all over the states. I was born and raised in Murfreesboro. The square is my home and it’s always going to be small. It has the downhome country feel and respect with a smile. Smiles are contagious, so I love the community.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night? 

I find it hard to sleep anyway. My hobby is work, so when I get home I log into my desktop from home to keep working. But, when it comes to my family, I know how to turn it off. We don’t talk about work at home, instead, we make it all about family. When it comes to what keeps me awake work-wise though, I think about how my actions may have impacted a client. I want to provide each client with the best experience possible.

Was there a season in your business where you were hustling to get to a certain point and once you got there the stress level kind of eased off? 

It all starts off with a good foundation and structure that you build your company with. All of it starts with processes and procedures. Job descriptions that tell employees what expectations you will have for them and guidelines for them to follow. Once everyone understands the job, the stress goes down. Don’t be afraid that the company may have many plateaus. You may have to make adjustments to get yourself back on track.

Who or what helped you get to where you are today?

I had a consulting firm come and help me with some long-term things that we needed help getting to. I also read a lot of books such as Traction by Gino Wickman.  This book shows you how to come up with some of the simple stuff.  Other books I read are E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, 7 Habits, and 48 Laws of Power.

What time of the day are you most productive?

I try to keep my day packed. I work early mornings from 7 to 11 and then from 2 to either 6 or 7. I am a firm believer in giving myself time to completely check out and do nothing work-related at all, so I always take an hour’s lunch break. I used to be go-go-go all day long, but when I noticed my health and my family were suffering, I knew something had to change. So, I started giving myself time away from everything to pick up a sandwich at a deli and go to the park to read or go to Applebees and watch a sports game. Everyone needs time to just take a break away from everything and reset.

What’s one thing you’d say to a person starting a new business?

Do not take “no” for an answer. Success is the ability to overcome obstacles. There will always be something in the way. You can do whatever you want to do as long as you hustle and do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.

What’s one thing you’d say to a person who’d owned a business for a long time?

Don’t be hard on your employees. Define what you expect out of them and hold them to it, but be a teacher, not a jerk. Results of work will tell performance. Your job is to make them better. Take care of them, be fun, and make it enjoyable.

To learn more about Brohalla visit their website!

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