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From Small Business To Big Business: Gap Inc

Aug 3, 2008
Often when you think of trendy hip clothing retailers you will think of Gap. The chain that is based in San Francisco, California was founded by Donald Fisher and Doris Fisher in 1969. Today it operates over 3,000 stores and employs over 150,000 people all over the world. In addition to its trademark brand it also owns and operates Banana Republic and Old Navy stores as well.

When Donald and Doris Fisher opened that first store in 1969 they did so in a theatre located on Ocean Avenue in San Jose, California. Early on it featured Levi's blue jeans, records and tapes. They were located near San Francisco State University and were trying to appeal to that younger hip generation. Shortly after opening though they decided to discontinue selling the records and tapes and to concentrate on selling clothes.

Gap saw a great deal of early success as they were able to hit on what the younger generation wanted to wear at the time. This look consisted of blue jeans and white cotton t-shirts otherwise known as the "basic look". By 1970 their store was doing a brisk $2 million a year in sales. They soon realized they would have to expand. And expand they did. By 1973 they had grown to 25 stores and were able to open their first of soon to be many east coast locations in Voorhees, New Jersey.

In 1974 realizing the name recognition the brand was developing the decision was made to start their own private label brands. By 1976 they were ready for their big coming out party as the company was able to go public on both the New York and Pacific stock exchanges. Their initial public offering was for 1.2 million shares.

They have two other trademark brands that operate their own stores. Banana Republic which was bought in 1983 is an upscale line of clothing but began as a catalog merchant featuring safari themed clothes. The other one Old Navy was launched in 1994 and is known as a value chain but with a specialty flair. Together the three brands make up Gap Inc. as it is known today.

Over the years Gap Inc. has had its share of problems. Everything from bad marketing and lack of focus to trademark disputes and labor issues. But they continue to work through these problems. Just imagine though the fact that a company with over 3,000 stores and 150,000 employees began as one store in an old theatre near a college. Donald Fisher and Doris Fisher had an idea and after finding some success with that idea they were not afraid to run with it. Regardless of the troubles of recent years they have left a legacy that will survive well into the future. And giving others inspiration that they if those two can build something so great why can't we all.
About the Author
Cash Miller is an experienced entrepreneur and speaker who has spent over a decade as a small business owner. His years of experience in small business cover a variety of topics. If you are looking for more small business help please check out http://www.smallbusinessdelivered.com
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