Poundland founder Steve Smith went from market stall trader to multi-millionaire by the time he was 30 years old.
He was dragged to his father’s stall in Bilston as a toddler, and set up his first high-street bargain goods store when he was a teenager. He turned that into the retail empire Poundland, which he later sold for £50 million ($US74.2 million).
His next venture is EstatesDirect, an online property agent.
After trading a humble townhouse in Wolverhampton, West Midlands for a 15,000-square-foot-mansion in Shropshire in 2000, he told Business Insider how he did it.
Smith also shared with us some early photos from his days on his father’s Bilston stall. We’ve mixed them with other images of his roots in the Midlands.
In the mid-1970s, his father's stall blossomed into a cash and carry business called Hooty's. Lewis Collins (centre) from British crime-action television drama series The Professionals flew in on his helicopter for the opening. Steve was just a teenager here (far right). His father is Keith (in the white jacket).
He noticed that 'we used to sometimes make more money by selling people leftover packaging or goods from the 10p to £1 box than the whole day's stall takings.' Here is a picture of his original stall cash box with an old £1 note in it.
So he hatched a plan to build a bargain empire of his own. After Britain abolished pound notes in favour of coins in 1983 he decided to launch his own store through his savings.
At the time, his family were going to sell Hooty's and move to Majorca in Spain to be with his sister.
With the help of a £50,000 loan from his father, Smith told us that he used a fax machine and a phone to secure a lease remotely so people wouldn't know how young he was. He was 17 at the time.
By the time he was 18 he had his own West Bromwich store, Steve's Discount Market, where he sold most goods for £1.
He also met his wife Tracey there while she was studying hairdressing. They celebrate 30 years of marriage this year after getting married in the Sedgley Church in the West Midlands. They now have three children Katie, 26, Ashley, 19, and Joe, 16.
However, his plans to build a bargain shop empire didn't stop in the West Midlands. 'The dream was always to turn over the first £1 million, then £10 million, then £50 million and so on,' said Smith to Business Insider. This was his first drawing of a potential logo.
He started drawing up plans for the first Poundland. Here is one of the renderings for the first shop.
In the first year, Poundland made £1 million in profit. But he said 'all the money was put back in the business.'
By 2000, he bought a 15,000 sq ft mansion on Hammer Hill, Alverley, near Bridgnorth in Shropshire for £2.2 million.
By 2001, he had opened 10 stores and several warehouses for storage and distribution. Here's one in Brighton.
In 2002, he ended up selling Poundland for £50 million and joined the likes of Virgin's Richard Branson as a self-made multi-millionaire.
Not resting on his laurels, he bought and sold nearly 100 properties over the last 12 years. He's even selling his Shropshire mansion for £5.75 million, which would make him a profit of £3.55 million.
After he paid more than £200,000 in estate agents fees, he got the idea to launch a bargain online property agents website -- EstatesDirect.
In September 2013, he launched EstatesDirect.com with Darren Richards and Ben Groves. Properties can be marketed for as little as, you guessed it, £1.
But the Smith bargain empire doesn't stop there. He also launched the first online shop where everything is £1.
His eldest son Ashley is an investor and runs the website. Although Steve helps him out, he cheekily said Ashley 'has a lot to live up to the Smith name.'
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