Lynch’s Furniture & Appliance in St. Robert opened in 1942—before the city had even been founded. Katrina Lynch-Allen’s great-grandfather, P.R. Lynch, launched the business and helped found the city, to boot.
“His vision was simple: ‘I need to feed my family. Every household needs appliances. I’ll sell appliances,’” Lynch-Allen says.
At the time, Fort Leonard Wood was being constructed and the Army families needed furniture. P.R. and his wife sold everything from china to used furniture, and at the beginning they operated out of a tent. Soon enough, the business grew, first to a building where Interstate 44 now runs and in 1962, to a new building at 248 Old Route 66, where the store is still located today.
The whole family grew up in the business. After P.R., Lynch-Allen’s great uncle and grandfather took the reins, followed by her father, and now her.
“I have the privilege of carrying on the family legacy as the fourth-generation owner,” she says. “I purchased the store from my dad six years ago. Previously I had been a VP in the banking industry for 15 years. I felt that experience would prepare me well for small business ownership—was I wrong! Within the first month, I realized nothing prepares you for small business ownership.”
Lynch-Allen says Missouri is a great state for doing business and that federal regulations and policies, particularly the downsizing of the U.S. military, have been her biggest obstacle to success.
“My business is located right outside of Ft. Leonard Wood,” she says. “My main customers are military or government employees. Downsizing our military isn’t a good thing for the protection of our country and, selfishly, it has not been good for business.”
However, she has survived by staying on top of her financials, customer traffic, close rate, inventory controls, and cash flow—and because of a determination to prevail and uphold her family legacy.
Her NFIB membership also helps by providing valuable information and keeping her up-to-date on current and pending business issues. She also serves on the NFIB/MO Leadership Council.
“I’m glad to be a member,” she says. “I feel NFIB does a lot of good for small businesses in Missouri.”
As for free time?
“CrossFit is my hobby these days,” she says. “It has helped me greatly in reducing my stress level and helps me to feel like I’ve achieved something each and every day. When sales are not happening, at least personal records are keeping me sane.”
She encourages others to find something similar to focus energy toward—other than just working more—to help keep them in balance and manage stress, such as exercise, family, or faith.