ShopTalk

Catching up with the NFL’s Everette Brown, now owner of two Charlotte businesses

Everette Brown’s days on the gridiron might be on pause for now, but the former Carolina Panthers defensive end is keeping up his business momentum.

Already owner of the Charlotte area’s first Tropical Smoothie Café franchise, Brown, 27, has started his own venture. In February, he founded Charlotte Luxury Rentals, an online rental company that allows customers to rent from a small fleet of high-end cars and enjoy 24-hour personalized concierge service. Rentals run from $299 to $899 a day.

“Cars are depreciating assets. It’s depreciated as soon as you drive it off the lot,” he said. By buying these cars for his business, “you take something that’s a depreciated asset and now you’ve been able to turn and make money off it. That’s a great business model.”

Brown and his wife, Tenisha, developed the concept last year – inspired by Brown’s own experiences traveling to different cities and renting “exotic cars,” such as Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis, without the expense of ownership, he said.

Brown said he felt there were few opportunities to rent luxury vehicles in Charlotte. He launched his business with three cars he bought from dealerships: a white Bentley Continental Flying Spur; black BMW Alpina B7; and a black Cadillac Escalade.

Today customers can select their car and sign a rental agreement online. Brown and his team – his wife and a business partner – then deliver the vehicle.

For Brown, it’s all about selling an experience: “You go into a city or go out on a weekend...and if you’re riding around in a BMW Alpina...you’re going to get treated differently. It’s a lifestyle. You can attain it by renting luxury and exotic cars.”

Brown says there’s even something for customers who do own high-end cars. His company’s tagline: “Why Drive One, When You Can Drive Them All.”

That type of marketing is critical for his business, he said. It helps that former Panthers teammates have taken some of the cars out for a spin and post about it on social media, he said.

As demand for the cars grows, Brown expects his workforce and inventory to expand. He also hopes to open additional Tropical Smoothie Café stores – a brand he fell in love with while a student at Florida State University. He opened his first one here in 2013 at the Metropolitan.

Still, football remains his top priority, he said. After playing with the Carolina Panthers for two seasons in 2009 and 2010, Brown was traded to other NFL teams before he signed with Washington’s team last July. He was released a month later when the team trimmed its roster. He was re-signed in October but released again in December.

Now he’s a free agent. He trains everyday at D1 Sports Training in Matthews to prepare his mind and body for his next recruiting call. Until then, his focus is on growing his businesses.

“Everyday is a grind,” he said. “Getting 2 percent better everyday is what I strive for. Anything after that is extra.”

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