As many of you know the “story/ narrative” of B2 is richly encrypted with the storyline of God’s amazing grace. B2 would never have been a reality if my first wife Karin had not been diagnosed with cancer, cancer that eventually spread and took her life. Yet, even in this loss, with lots of questions around why people suffer, God’s unfailing love and grace shined through. That experience, among others, has taught me to look beyond the surface of what is immediately visible to a deeper reality of how God is always at work in and through our lives.
B2 is the result of Matt returning from Florida to be with his mom, and in the meantime, allowing God to use his entrepreneur brain to think up this concept. It was his initiative from the beginning, and my goal was always to support him, as well as my other children, in discerning God’s call and plan. Karin’s passing paved the way for us to purchase Grand Valley Online Auction and convert it to Bid-2-Benefit-Youth. Conceptually, selling overstock and excess goods on an online auction makes good sense, but there is a reason we no longer operate our own auction – it is simply too labor intensive. The first half of 2014 saw us struggling to makes ends meet, but God was at work. The building next to ours in Hudsonville came available for rent, and the landlord, Rob Becker, believed in our mission and vision. He approached us with a very favorable offer. I remember the conversation well between Matt and myself, knowing that with our then current financial situation, it would be a “make or break” decision. It was “high risk” every way you sliced it.
Five years later you know that we stepped out in faith, trusting that God had sometime more. We opened our first outlet store in November of 2014, not knowing how this step would eventually explode into B2 Outlet Stores. Although we were entering the Christmas season, it wasn’t until Matt reached out to Kyle at Liquidity Service in February of that next year that the store began to take off. That spring we stepped out in faith once again, locking down five Costco locations in which we’d receive goods monthly. In all respects, we could say that this Costco arrangement put us on the map. Not only were we receiving quality goods, but we could deeply discount merchandise to build our customer base. As 2015 progressed, word through the greater Hudsonville community spread like wildfire as Barb greeted new customers daily and turned them into our mission. Five years later, Hudsonville is still our #1 producing store, defying all odds, given that a store like ours in a small community like Hudsonville should never be producing such amazing results.
B2 could have died late in 2014 if God did not test our faith. He called us to step out into a high risk venture that had little to do with our efforts, and everything to do with his “power at work within us.” This month we celebrate 5 years in Hudsonville, the place where it all began and where we saw God begin to orchestrate his plan. B2 is owned by God. He is the one that made it happen, yet we have the privilege of being used by him for this grand purpose. Today, we remain as faithful stewards to what he has given us, and every day we continue to see God do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine. Our role is to trust him and continue to direct the glory to him.
I can’t wait to see where will be in another five years, and I hope you are still part of the journey with us. Thanks for all you do everyday to help us fulfill God’s plan for B2!