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Kip Tindell has been at the helm of The Container Store since it first opened its doors in Dallas, Texas, in 1978.  Now, the "storage solutions" company has over 39[…]

Kip Tindell, CEO of the Container Store, on recognizing a great idea.

Kip Tindell: I don’t think knowing something is a very, very good idea’s all that hard. If we were a rock band and we were in the recording – and we recorded a song that was a future number one hit – you know, I think those guys know it’s a hit when they record it. I think they walk out of the studio going, “Hey, you know, that one’s really going to be big.”

We were very lucky in that we came – it took two years without pay of developing the concept, developing the resources.  It evolved out of furniture and into storage and organization.  And somehow in 1977 and 1978 we knew that – well we just got very, very, very excited about these products that saved you time and saved you space and organized your life, organized your world.  Businesses were interested in saving space and time, but nobody had ever – totally original idea – nobody had ever sought to bring that to individuals, to people’s homes.

We had no idea that people would become as time-starved and crazy and multitasking as they are today, but we knew that being well-organized allowed you to accomplish more in life, ultimately save you time, and that was important even back then. If you’re going to sell some commodity, selling time is – people think it’s space and making more out of less space.  It’s really making more out of less time.

We didn’t go through the terrible entrepreneurial terror of . . . are we going to make it or not? . . . because we were confident of the concept, confident of the products that we found . . . ‘cause we fell in love with these products.  It took a long time to come up with the products. Just to fill a little 1,600 square foot store took months and months and months of seeking products.  

Now the stores are 25,000 square feet, and there’s so much product out there it’s unbelievable.I think people came to this little store and said, “This is the oddest collection of merchandise I’ve ever seen in my life,”  and then they went and told people.  We had wire barrels that were made to burn leaves in – and those were like toy barrels ‘cause you could see through them – egg collection baskets that were meant to collect chicken eggs, and we sold that as a gardening basket where you could put all your gardening tools in it and stuff.  

Nothing in the store had ever been retailed before.  People got excited about it, and after a couple of weeks we said, "You know, maybe we have something." Then after a couple of months the President of Rubbermaid came down and visited us.  We couldn’t believe that.  And then Stanley Marcus came running around.  So we had a lot of positive reinforcement early on.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd