Two years, 10 months and 16 days ago a 27′ UHaul Truck with a dead headlight and bad windshield wipers was driving over the Rocky mountains then through a terrible snowstorm. The truck contained the entire contents of a 13 year-old (old for the internet) company and was traveling from Silicon Valley to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Six months before that, Travis and I were looking at each other asking each other “Are we nuts?” as we kept coming across this website for sale: DiscountCatholicProducts.com.
All I really wanted was a little something I could do on the side of my “real job” to pay off student loans a little faster, just a couple extra $100 a week or so. What commenced after that… I never would have gone down that road if I knew what were to come. (Don’t get me wrong – we’re having a blast. But it’s the complete opposite of what I thought I wanted. A few hours a week on my own time? HAH! Not even close!)
I thought maybe having a website would fill this criteria, so the search began. We looked at a few small sites here and there, and then we came across this behemoth that was super compelling, but way outside our list of criteria, and way outside our price range. So we ignored it and kept looking.
But it kept popping up. This Catholic website. It wouldn’t be ignored.
So, fine, we thought. Let’s just take a look and see what it has to offer. What could it hurt? We may even learn something.
What we saw was very compelling. We saw a business with strong roots – founded by a brother/sister team out of their garage back in 1999, with great customers and vendors. And then it had been sold off to a large Silicon Valley company that wanted to use it for their Christmas decoration business, but it just never really tied together. Discount Catholic Products was tucked into the corner of a much larger office, and cared for by a small staff. The synergies they were hoping for never really panned out, so they were selling it off, and not having an easy time of doing in.
That’s where we came in. At the time it just seemed like such a large, daunting company (even with a staff of only 3) – so much more than we were looking for – that we didn’t want to want it, so we passed.
And it just kept coming back into our minds. As did insecurities – Could we handle something like this? How would our family life change? Are we Catholic enough?
So we put forth what we thought was a ridiculously low offer – that way we could say we tried and then forget it.
But they accepted.
Nuts. Not what we were expecting. But on the other hand we were SO EXCITED – and totally scared! This little website needed some dedicated, Catholic love! It needed to come back to a Catholic family willing to nurture the customers and catalog. It needed an upgrade and some testing, and pruning of product list. It was a fixer-upper!
I LOVE new projects, I love challenges, and I had nothing but pure anticipation when we realized what was coming.
So I took a few days off my job, conned my mother into being a trucker for a week, flew out to California, loaded the business onto a U-Haul. The original plan was to run the business out of our basement, but when we saw the racks of product when we got to Silicon Valley, we knew it would never fit.
So I flew back to South Dakota, and Mom took off in the U-Haul. I had 2.5 days to find a place for this business to land. She would remind me of this with a string of text messages that said “by Friday”. That’s all it said. Each text – for 2 days straight “by Friday.” Meaning – “you better find a place for this stuff to land because I’m only moving it this once.”
On Thursday Travis was driving the same route to school that he had driven over 1000 times in the last 7 years, and he noticed a barn that had been converted into offices. On a whim he pulled in to the parking lot and poked his head around. Within 2 hours he and I were talking with the landlord and helping him clean out a space he was using for storage that would now become our Discount Catholic Products HQ.
And it was perfect!
The UHaul arrived the next day, we unloaded it, and began filling orders that had been backing up for the last 3 days. Due to both our inexperience and the mess of unpacking Travis and I would be filling orders until 1-2 AM every night, and teaching/accounting during the day.
And slowly we’ve made our upgrades, we’ve honed our product offerings, and we have learned so much. But the main take-away for us so far is our faith and how much we’ve grown in our faith thanks to our customers.
You don’t know what you don’t know until someone points it out. Sometimes we felt really dumb, under-catechized, and confused, but the amount that we learn only fuels our faith. We know God brought us to DCP for a reason. My prayer is that we somehow help others on their faith journey so they can grow in their relationship with God, as we have been gifted for the last 3 years.
So while this labor of love is much more labor than I ever expected, the other end of that is that the love is multitudes more than the labor. Thank you so much for being part of the DCP Family. We appreciate every one of you!