Franchising Veterans Take On New Venture
Franchising Veterans Take On New Venture

Rene Tirado, 45, and James Weaver, 58, come from a long history of franchising – a total of 48 years combined, to be exact.

Rene, originally from New York and raised in New Jersey, has lived in Florida for the past 27 years. After graduating with a business administration degree from the College .....

Rene Tirado, 45, and James Weaver, 58, come from a long history of franchising – a total of 48 years combined, to be exact.

Rene, originally from New York and raised in New Jersey, has lived in Florida for the past 27 years. After graduating with a business administration degree from the College of Central Florida , he went on to become a men’s and boys’ wear buyer in the late 80’s  before working with Play it Again Sports in 1994 as Director of Operations.

James grew up in Orlando, FL and graduated with a degree in accounting from the University of Central Florida. In 1987, James and his wife Connie opened up a franchise computer supplies and accessories business in Colorado. They sold the business in 1997, took a couple of years off, and eventually moved back to Florida and purchased three Play It Again Sports stores. James was a solo player for a year or two before bringing Rene, who was well-known within the brand, onto his team in 2000 as a partner of his three sports stores in St. Petersburg, FL.  Looking to expand their reach, the duo wanted to open more Play It Again Sports locations but new territories were unavailable, which led them to Plato’s Closet, which falls under the same franchise umbrella as Play It Again Sports, Winmark Corporation. In 2001, the partners opened their first Plato’s Closet.

Rene and James sold the sports stores in 2006 and currently own five Plato’s Closet locations.

How did you learn about the brand?

James: My wife bought me a gift certificate for a three hour treatment at Hand & Stone. I was skeptical at first and didn’t think I could even sit still for that long, but I eventually made an appointment a year later. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Immediately after, I asked about franchising opportunities and called corporate on the ride home.

Why did you choose an opportunity with Hand & Stone?

We wanted to go into the services industry. We didn’t want to get into a business that competes with the growing amount of Internet sales. We wanted something service related with an up and coming brand that had a proven track record of growth and success. Hand & Stone really fit everything we were looking for in an opportunity.

Do you have any development or extension plans?

We are looking to open 2-3 more locations in the area. We’re currently working with the real estate developer for Hand & Stone and hope to have another location up and running soon after this first.

Do you have any interesting hobbies or passions?

Rene enjoys running in his free time and has his first full marathon coming up next January. His goal is to complete three half marathons and one marathon within 100 days starting this November.  James’ hobbies are slower in pace, spending his free time playing golf and fishing.

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