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Bin Shop'n continues store growth spurt
Bin Shopn
Bin Shop’n not only has items in bins; there are bigger items, too.

The idea has been around a while, so it’s hard to say it’s a phenomenon or a fad. But judging by the line that develops every Saturday on the sidewalk in the 1700 block of Main Street in Great Bend, it is certainly popular.

Bin Shop’n owner Anthony MacMahon and his wife, with his brother David, first opened the flagship store in Hutchinson a year ago, immediately followed by its Great Bend location at 1701 Main Street. Since then, the company has been on a growth spurt, adding locations in Salina and Wichita.

It hasn’t stopped there. This year, the MacMahons launched a separate endeavor in Larned titled Bin Shop’n Boutique and Gifts and have added more locations — up to a total of 11 at last count.

The bin shopping concept dates back to 1967, when Russian immigrant Sol Shenk transformed his wholesale auto parts shop into the Big Lots chain, amassing 1,500 stores and $1 billion by his death in 1994.

“If you think about the concept and the history around bin shopping, there’s been several companies that have done it,” Anthony MacMahon said. “You might recognize their name, but not know who’s behind it. The idea has been around forever.”

The MacMahons have spent the last 11 years refining Shenk’s Big Lots concept, with a focus on getting quality merchandise into the hands of small-community shoppers at a reasonable price. The price starts at under $8 on Saturdays when the bins are full and keeps dropping during the weekdays until their 99-cent sale on Thursday. Over and over again.

“There are bin stores all around, right?” MacMahon said. “But our goal is to have each store be a different experience. We are not a regular bin store that literally throws everything into bins and there’s no categorization. We want our customers to have the best experience possible, and not have to search through a bunch of stuff they don’t want to find the thing they do.

“Our idea is to be close to a TJ Maxx but still a bin store,” MacMahon noted. “Right in-between, that’s what we want to be. It’s a fine line and it takes extra labor to make sure that our bins are clean as they can be and things like that. Our team works extra hard to fulfill that goal and heighten customer experience. Our team does a great job.”

Better than Black Friday – and on a Saturday, week after week.

“Absolutely,” MacMahon said.

The boutique model

On Feb. 24, the MacMahons launched their scaled-down flagship for its boutique model sideline venture  at 418 Broadway in Larned. That store features clothing, hats, shoes, boots, purses, handbags and gift sets without the bin setup.

“We have a company strategy and Larned fit into that strategy,” MacMahon said. “It was close to my brother so that was our first location because it was easier to make sure that things were being taken care of there. We had no idea how it would go off. 

“We say we want to bring ‘big city’ to the small cities, because a lot of towns don’t have access to the big chain stores. We wanted to make sure that everyone has the same access to that kind of shopping opportunity; you can’t put a Target in Larned because there’s not the populace there. 

“But people in smaller places still need things and we want them there so that they don’t have to travel,” he noted. 

Humble beginnings

MacMahon and his wife’s basic concept was born out of garage sales, he said.

“We had two garage sales, starting with a half of a truckload from Amazon,” he said. “We had fun with that and we made our money back with a little bit of profit.

“We decided to jump all in and go for a bigger truck.”

Now, the business does anywhere from four to seven truckloads per week.

It’s a family business, but the MacMahons have had to do some recruiting. The company has since expanded to include about 60 employees. Anthony’s brother David lives in Larned, but commutes to Great Bend to operate the Great Bend shop. David’s daughter, meanwhile, operates the boutique store on Broadway in Larned, as part of their expansion into a sideline venture.

The expansion has continued without a break for ribbon cuttings. “I think that’s something we need to do,” he said. “We’re growing so fast, there’s a lot of moving parts and we’re working to get teams established so that things like ribbon cuttings can happen.”

Since the Larned store, the company has opened seven boutiques to go with the bin-style locations: in Hutchinson, Salina, McPherson, Stafford, Kingman, Wichita and last week in Wichita East.