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September 20, 2006

How This Service Came To Be

Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson: Boring stuff ahead

With apologies to the Robot in "Lost in Space," here is a short-ish version of how this service came to be. A couple of people have asked (I promise), so here goes.

The idea for Owner's Locker has been around for a long time and I'm glad it is finally seeing the light of day. It really is a combination of three experiences I've had spending time away from my home base and the lengths I would go to to feel comfortable away from home. I'm from Kentucky and in 1990, the company I worked for transferred me to London (the real one, not the little one in south eastern Kentucky). While living in London, I used to like to get away on weekends. I loved the big city, but it was nice to get out in the country (England has some beautiful countryside) and chill out. I liked it so much that I bought a small cottage in the area known as the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire, down the road from Oxford. The kids, dogs and I would pile into the Land Rover Defender (still my favorite car) on Friday afternoons after school and come back Sunday evenings. What fun.

At first, things were sparse in the cottage as I didn't particularly want to duplicate every earthly belonging I had. It was a bit comical to see the things that I would haul back and forth--like a TV, believe it or not. I eventually broke down and bought a TV for the cottage, but I continued to use what became know as the "country box" for a couple of years. About the size of an Owner's Locker (surprise, surprise) I would toss things into it during the week in London that I thought I might need in the country that weekend. I'd take it to the country, use the items and then put them back in the box along with anything else that I thought I might need in London. Since no one else used the cottage, after a couple of years, I did wind up duplicating everything in the country box and it fell out of use. I think one of those expensive lever corkscrews was the final thing I was taking back and forth.

In May, 1992, I bought a lot of points at a vacation club in the Orlando area. And at about the time that I discovered the joys of the country box, I decided that something like that for our time in Florida would be great. What we needed was a Florida box. Like the country box, it would hold the things we needed while we were away from home. Unlike the country box, however, it was impractical to take it back and forth to England, so I arranged to have a friend keep it in his garage when we were not in Florida. He worked at the resort we visited so he would bring it to work the day we checked in and take it home with him the day we checked out. Sounds like Owner's Locker, doesn't it?

Anyway, we came to Florida several times per year and really loved the Florida box and really learned how to use it over the next few years. The more we used it the more we liked it and the more we learned. I discovered that it was not a good idea to put smelly sneakers in it and I realized that I needed to keep a list of what was in the box for reference. It was neat to open the box when we got to Florida and the kids all liked seeing the pool toys and art supplies that they remembered. Oh yes, and I bought my third lever corkscrew.

The idea really gelled for me in 1999-2000 when I was based in Copenhagen for six months and commuted home to London on most weekends. I worked out a deal with a hotel to leave a few suits, shoes, toiletries, laptop, etc. (and four dirty shirts) when I checked out on Friday mornings. This was really handy because I could leave from the office after work on Friday; go straight to the airport and straight on the plane without checking any luggage! And on Monday, I got on the plane with only a briefcase, went straight to the office and checked into the hotel Monday evening after work to find all of my stuff (and four clean shirts) there waiting for me. This whole, "gee, I don't have to pack" experience did it for me and Owner's Locker moved from being an idea to a company.

I began working on it in my spare time. Became obsessed with it actually and talked about it constantly. When the company I worked for decided to shut their London operation down, I began to focus even more on the design of this company and, with the encouragement of my wife, determined to pursue this dream full time. So here we are.


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