How we started selling books...
Our garage full of books (2005)
Jim and Breanne met at the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) and started dating in 1998. They were married a year later on August 7th, 1999 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. After marriage, they moved to Corvallis, Oregon where Jim studied Computer Science at OSU. Breanne went to Linn Benton Community College and graduated with an Associates degree in Animal Science in 2002. Jim graduated in 2003 from Oregon State with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and cum laude honors.
While at OSU, Jim noticed that many students were frustrated during the end-of-term textbook buyback process. The school would not buy back many used textbooks, and the students were simply throwing them away. Jim picked up a few of the tossed textbooks, and sold them online for an incredible profit. Jim and Breanne then started spending many evenings and weekends going to thrift stores, garage sales, and book sales, looking for books to sell. Thus, McKenzie Books was born! (McKenzie is Jim's middle name.)
Spring and summer of 2003 was a turbulent time in Jim and Breanne's life. Jim and Breanne's son Mekiah was born in March 2003. Around the same time, Jim received a job offer from Portland based Freightliner, and plans were made to move to Beaverton. Also in the spring of 2003, Jim started experiencing dizziness and hearing loss in his left ear. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with a large and life-threatening acoustic neuroma brain tumor. It took two major surgeries and months of recovery, but Jim made it through. As a result of removing the brain tumor, he has no hearing in his left ear.
Getting bigger... (2007)
But on the up side, as Jim's brain recovered, he started getting many, many, many ideas... So many ideas that it kept him up countless nights. His brain, it seemed, had more room now, and Jim had changed to be more driven and entrepreneurial. With the new brain power, a bit of research, and the prior experience with McKenzie Books, Jim created McKenzieBooks.com in the winter of 2003-2004.
After graduating and after recovering from both surgeries, Jim started working for Freightliner in NW Portland as a Java Developer in the IT Department in the fall of 2003. At that time, Jim and Breanne moved into an apartment in Beaverton.
While working at Freightliner, Jim worked to design and develop McKenzieBooks.com on evenings, late nights, early mornings, and weekends. McKenzieBooks.com was launched in March 2004. McKenzieBooks' first customer was a doctor at OHSU (where some flyers had been posted). The doctor sold McKenzieBooks some medical textbooks, and Jim personally went and picked the books up at his home. While the business was still in the apartment, Jim's mother Nancy began helping, as well as Breanne's sister Crystalyn.
Millikan Way warehouse (2009)
After about a year in the apartment, Jim and Breanne bought their first house in January 2005 and moved the book business into their new garage. The first non-family employee was hired at this time. In the first 12 months, the business had spread from the garage, to the den, to the covered patio, and to the 10x12 shed (built for business storage). They then leased their first warehouse, a 4,000 sq. ft. space on the corner of TV Hwy and Cornelius Pass. At that time, they had about five employees and 3,500 books in inventory. Jim and Breanne thought they would be there several years. They were wrongafter outgrowing the 4,000 sq. ft. warehouse in only one year, they set their sights on the 23,000 sq. ft. building on 153rd and Millikan Way. The business moved into the Millikan Way warehouse in March 2007, where it continued to grow.
Jim and Breanne's family also continues to grow, with the birth of Abrielle in November 2007, and the adoption of Josanna in July 2010.
Jim and Breanne are excited to see where the company, and their lives, will go from here!