Her parents lived in Temecula, where a lot of people from Los Angeles and San Diego moved to when they tired of the city in the early 2000’s. With all the moving, there were lots of yard sales. Jen’s mother was an avid yard sale shopper and would take Oscar along for day-long excursions. For $20 he bought rims and tires from a woman who was selling them for her son. Oscar sold them on eBay for $600. “Wait a minute,” he said, “I can do this.”
One day Oscar bought a pair of BOSE 901 Series II speakers (pictured right) from the 1970’s. A couple of months later, he found a BOSE receiver from the same era. Jen and Oscar listened to it in the house – public radio, latin rock and plugged it into the television for movies. They liked the sound and the retro stereo looked cool. Oscar began looking for other pieces and found a niche in vintage audio gear and musical instruments. They bought a house five years ago with a huge garage to use as storage for his audio gear and vinyl.
“My husband is very hard working,” Jen says. “He has never had just one job. He’s always been ambitious.”
When her first daughter was born in March 2008, Jen stopped working as a school teacher and opened up a home child care center. Because she had been a teacher for five years, she thought it would be easy, but it turned out to be harder than she expected. When her father died a week after her daughter’s first birthday, she decided that she couldn’t do it anymore.
Something good came out of the child care center experiment. Jen belonged to Pathways, an organization that pairs parents with accredited child care centers and trains child care centers with CPR and money management. Pathways sent a flyer about an Entrepreneur Training Program sponsored by Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA). In the fall of 2009, pregnant with her second child, Jen enrolled in the class for $50, where she learned how to write a business plan. Within a month, she had a plan for Rewind.
Farzana Nayani taught the class, outlining the different steps to open a business in easy to understand terms and write a business plan. The class was general; marketing, business loans, business insurance. When it came down to specifics, Farzana offered a one-on-one session. Farzana was surprised with the numbers from eBay and explained why their plan would work financially. They talked about different types of loans, like a credit card in the business name for no interest in the first year instead of a small business loan. “She had a huge impact and was a wonderful resource for us,” Jen said. “She literally made our dreams come true. Our dream of having a business has become a reality because of that little flyer. Now look at us.” According to Jen, Farzana is an incredible person and wonderful teacher.
The class motivated Jen and Oscar to start looking for space. A lot of their customers were local, from the Los Angeles area. The people who bought on eBay could meet at a store instead of a public location. Maybe this would increase sales.
Oscar came home one day when Jen was nine months pregnant, “You are never gonna believe it, but the store where your wedding dress was made is for lease.” While Jen was in labor, Oscar dealt with the realtor. Their daughter was born January 16th; the lease was signed on January 30th. The previous tenant had been there 40 years. Oscar gutted the inside – took out six layers of carpet, fixed water damage, installed a new bathroom, and painted.
When they opened the store, Oscar brought the BOSE speakers and receiver from their attic. They were the first thing to sell.
The original business plan was to have a recycling center, where people could drop off old electronics for recycling and buy new stuff. But they couldn’t handle volume or obtain permits. Then they tried a couple of times to sell pieces on consignment on eBay, but the commissions weren’t enough to justify the effort and they didn’t have the room for gear that wasn’t picked up. Meanwhile, Oscar’s father was repairing stuff. People wrote great Yelp reviews like ‘did amazing work.’ Little by little people started to see the store as a repair center more than a retail shop. However, Jen and Oscar are selective about the gear they repair and prefer selling a variety of vintage audio. (Pictured above: Oscar and Dirty Vegas hanging out the store in February 2011.)
Jen and Oscar are still trying to solidify their niche. During their first year of business, they figured out what they were doing, what works and what doesn’t. One thing is to have an idea on paper, but so many aspects end up changing the plan. Jen is still in contact with Farzana. She wants to revise the business plan and make it true to what the business is currently about.
The shop and eBay sales make a profit. Oscar still has a 40-hour a week job working the night shift at the ACLU, where he has been for 11 years. He would love for the shop to be his full-time work, but they have two children and desperately need steady income and health insurance. Jen is devoted to the shop; two days a week brings her daughters to work. Oscars’ mother watches the girls on the other days that Jen manages the store. All hands absolutely on deck!
They have the store and merchandise. They like their customers and their customers like them. Many are repeat customers. Now it is time to brand the store within their community. Rewind Audio is definitely in it for the long haul.
1041 N. Alvarado Street
Los Angeles, CA 90039