The passing of George Hargrove, founder of Cousins Army-Navy Store, brought a tumultuous couple of years for Hargrove’s partner, and now exclusive owner, JD Richardson. Legal issues followed by a struggle to find and secure a good source of funding almost permanently closed Cousins. In October 2017, Richardson began to lease a new space just a mile and a half north of the original location on High Street with the intention of opening before the end of that year.
“I’m glad we made it to ECDI when we did,” says a sincere Richardson who has been running on fumes to keep his vision of the business alive. Now, with the acquisition of ECDI funding, it is only a matter of time until Richardson’s historic business is back in the market.
Cousins has been a Columbus staple since it opened in 1970. The business did exceedingly well for decades until about 2010. Up to that point, Richardson was not yet involved. Hargrove was the sole owner of the business, but he had hired someone to handle day-to-day management of the store. When that situation was no longer viable and as sales started to thin out, Richardson precariously found himself stepping in to manage the store once again.
As fate would have it, Richardson then came into the picture as a business consultant, and under his counsel, Hargrove saw profits abruptly rise as stability was brought back to Cousins. His success prompted Hargrove to incorporate Richardson as a partner.
As Richardson looks to the future of his business, he is confident he is on the right track—even in the midst of the corporate construction boom that looms over all small business owners in Ohio State’s University District on High Street.
“There is a place for everyone… from the big corporations to the smaller guys like us,” assures Richardson. In fact, the property owners of the newly-leased location were seeking a long-term tenant that embodied the local integrity that Cousins champions.
The focus on community extends even further than that. The decision to move, yet remain in the University District, was a conscious effort to continue to serve the same demographics that have been coming to Cousins for nearly 50 years. Richardson takes pride in Cousins’ community service to the homeless, who stop in to outfit themselves with clothes, sleeping bags, and tents to make it through the winters. Often times, he will go as far as giving them slightly damaged merchandise or gently used returned items that would otherwise be difficult to sell. In short, he does all he can to provide necessary provisions for the less fortunate. Richardson also has plans to provide the community with affordable self-defense training classes specifically geared towards the student population.
“We’d like to do some real basic stuff that anyone can learn in an evening,” he says.
As the business is winding up for its reopening, Richardson is excited to roll out some new ideas. Most notably, the business name has officially evolved to Cousins Army Navy and Survival Supply. Under that new, but still recognizable handle, Cousins will launch a website for e-commerce, include an expanded selection of women’s apparel, and focus on the branding side of business.
Cousins Army Navy and Survival Supply, now located at 2469 N. High St., will reopen by the start of Ohio State University’s Autumn Semester. Stay tuned for an official date and stop in to see what’s new!
For more information, visit cousinsarmynavy.com.
Since 2004, ECDI has assisted Ohio’s entrepreneurs through its one-stop shop business services model, suited to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs, regardless of what business stage they’re in. From providing capital to entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses, to providing focused, business-specific educational opportunities to enhance entrepreneurial skill sets, ECDI works with their clients to meet their unique needs. Whether assisting a new client with a business concept or an accomplished entrepreneur opening a fifth location, ECDI’s “never say no” approach has allowed over twelve thousand entrepreneurs to take advantage of the services it provides. Visit ecdi.org today to learn more.