Small businesses The Milk Man, Device EMS, Liz And Roo Are Thriving

By Cheryl Truman
Lexington Herald-Leader

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Liz and Roo a designer-style, upscale linens company with a commitment to being produced in the U.S. is just one small business that is bucking the odds of achieving super success.

Lexington Herald-Leader

Bloomberg says that 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the 18 months.

The reasons vary — running out of cash, failing to identify a true market niche, not communicating what makes a business unique.

But we’ve found some exceptions — Bluegrass businesses that continue and even thrive after adapting to changing market conditions: The Milk Man grocery delivery service, EMS mobile electronic device repair and Liz and Roo baby linens.

Liz and Roo
Some of the Louisville company’s products, including its Woodland Crib Bedding and Gray Elephant lines, are available on the Buy Buy Baby website. One of its two sewing sites is in Carlisle, where we caught up with the company as it was trying new products in May.

But soon, within the next eight to 12 weeks, Liz and Roo products will begin their roll out in Buy Buy Baby stores nationwide.
Buy Buy Baby is owned by Bed Bath & Beyond, which bought the company in 2007 for $67 million.

The expansion means more sewing will be done at the former Jockey in Carlisle; Liz & Roo also has production in western North Carolina.

Liz and Roo are designer-style, upscale linens with a commitment to being produced in the United States clearly stated on the company website.

“We’re very stringent and particular about our quality standards,” Eager said. It’s what makes our brand stand out. … Our quality is so different from what is made overseas. The quality is beautiful. Every product is truly sewn by hand.”

The Milk Man
When Kroger debuted its ClickList service in Lexington last December, Khalid Rayan took a hard look at his grocery delivery business.

ClickList allowed Kroger customers to order online and pick up and pay for their groceries without ever going inside the store. Khalid Rayan’s Lexington business, called The Milk Man, allowed customers to send a list of requested groceries at a number of Lexington-area markets, where Rayan would pick them up and deliver them to the customer’s home.

Rayan’s business even offered prescription pickup, a benefit for shut-in customers and those with difficulty making it to a store.

But Kroger was offering the first three pickups from ClickList for free and for $4.95 thereafter. The Milk Man charged a delivery fee of $7, a shopping fee of $15 for the first $100, and 15 percent thereafter.

Rayan’s business is still going, and he figures he fills a niche — for clients who have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with an online list, be they elderly, disabled, students or working-class families who would, as Rayan put it, “rather spend time with each other.”

He knows his customers’ buying patterns, he said. If they forget an item on the list, he will prompt them about its status. If they forget while Rayan is still at the store, he’ll happily add it to the list.

“I get to people who can’t travel that much, so it’s a very feasible company,” Rayan said.

He works with about 35 clients.

Device EMS
Alex Orr really can’t say enough about how well his Lexington start-up, Device EMS, is doing.

He has two operating ambulances — the genesis of the EMS idea was to have an emergency vehicle riding straight to the client, which is an impressive sight when you want your shattered cell phone screen repaired — but recently added a Toyota Prius to the lineup and is considered tiny Smart cars as well.

All would be outfitted with the EMS look.

The rationale: “It’s an emergency when you break your phone.”

Device EMS is now a franchise operation, Orr said. Cincinnati’s Device EMS, a franchise, is now operating.
Orr has three employees. The company still has its mascot, the tiny dog Teddy, who loves to ride along.

Early on, Orr described his business as an everyday adventure: “Everything is an opportunity,” he said in January.
It still is.

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