Business Profiles

by Two Dollar Things Plus

last updated 16/07/2024

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Alice's Wonderland

by Two Dollar Things Plus

last updated 16/07/2024

How a finance graduate is finding her feet in franchising through a remarkable retail opportunity

Armed with a degree in finance, Alice Cho always knew she wanted to go into business herself - she just didn’t know what business that would be.

After immigrating to Christchurch from South Korea with her architect husband Jin Choi, eight years ago, Alice took a job in a nail art studio as a way of meeting people and finding her feet in her new country. She learned the intricacies of nail art and worked on her newfound craft for seven years.

‘It was a bit challenging,’ says Alice, who arrived in New Zealand not speaking any English. ‘I found talking to people very hard. When I was working at the nail shop it was very difficult for me because I had to have a lot of conversations with clients. I found that quite stressful,’ she says.

Nail art to new horizons

Alice chose to leave her nail art business for a job at Two Dollar Things Plus in Christchurch. There, the expectation and intensity of one-on-one conversation was less concentrated than it was in the close-up proximity of nail clients. Taking the job at The Palms branch would be life-changing for Alice.

‘I realised this was a business I wanted to run,’ she smiles. ‘Working at Two Dollar Things was far more enjoyable for me, and I quickly knew I wanted to have a franchise.’

Eastgate Mall site in Christchurch would become Alice’s new project. ‘When I visited the company, the two Mr Lees – Hyun, Managing Director and HK, Master Franchisor – were very patient, very kind people. I believed they could help and support me very well as a franchisee and they wanted me to succeed. So, I now own my own business!’

Variety and value

Selling ‘everything’ provides variety for Alice; the range of customers wanting to buy a diverse range of items means no two days are the same. ‘For a low price – we sell almost everything for $2.50 – the quality of the products we sell is incredible. I saw this as a low-risk opportunity because of the standard of the items, despite the low price.’

Evolving from the original two-dollar shop concept, Two Dollar Things Plus came about after the global pandemic, when the well-known two-dollar items had a price increase. From haircare to pet products, jewellery to greeting cards, snack foods to gardening gear and much more, the store is gaining a loyal group of customers keen to save money during the so-called ‘cost of living’ crisis. ‘We try to give people real value for everyday goods, often brands that people know well,’ says Alice. ‘That’s the foundation of our business.’

She likes seeing the continued popularity of greeting cards in this increasingly digital age. ‘Cards are our most popular items, above all else,’ says Alice. ‘Writing cards is clearly still a thing – people still like to give and receive handwritten cards. I like that!’

Old friends, new ventures

The two ‘Mr Lees’ behind the brand go back a long way. ‘We were friends as little kids here in Auckland. The two of us go way back!’, says Hyun.

Hyun joined with HK shortly after his old friend’s family opened a store in Tokoroa. ‘In 2012, HK wanted to expand on this, so we set up in Whakatane and the rest is history!

‘We have big plans for the franchise: to reach 80-plus stores in New Zealand. We think that’s a good target for us, for towns and cities across the country. We’re confident we can reach that number,’ says Hyun.

Alice is their first franchisee. Next, they plan on expanding to Whangārei, Whanganui, Tauranga and Invercargill before filling the gaps in between. ‘We want locals to be the drivers of the success of the stores. To reach our target, we decided we needed to introduce a franchise model to get to this number quicker than we otherwise could.

‘We see small towns as bringing big opportunities for this business. We want to target several towns and we wouldn’t be able to make these stores successful without the buy-in of local people,’ Hyun adds.

Such local buy-in is already being ably demonstrated by Alice in Christchurch. After taking on the franchise in mid-May, the mother-of-two is already fully invested in the Two Dollar Things Plus vision. Not only for her Eastgate Mall store, but the bigger mission to provide low cost, quality everyday goods to make daily life a little easier for Kiwis.

Pride and joy

‘It feels very good to be finally running my own business,’ says Alice, whose two children are both at university – one studying biomedicine in Auckland and the other, dentistry in Budapest. ‘My children are also very happy for me. I’ve decided I’m going to do well at this and, with the support of the two Mr Lees and my family, I know I can.’

To find out how you could become part of the Two Dollar Things Plus journey, contact Hyun Lee today. It might just change your life, like it has Alice’s.  

See this advertorial on page 31 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 33 Issue 2

Contact details for Two Dollar Things Plus!

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