When Tom McMahon retired from the U.S. Air Force, he knew a suit and tie wasn’t in the next part of his career path. Instead of joining the corporate world, he decided to open a home decor and gift store in Washington, DC. McMahon didn’t let a lack of startup business experience stop him from launching his shop, Urban Dwell. Instead, he teamed up with SCORE to start his new business on the right foot.

“The initial reactions have been both amazing and extremely encouraging,” McMahon says. Urban Dwell offers carefully curated merchandise following the latest trends in home decor, women’s and men’s accessories, kitchen items, jewelry, baby gifts and more.

My successes. 

With Rose’s help, McMahon was able to determine the ideal location for his business, forge a relationship with his future landlord, and negotiate a favorable lease for this new shop. “In addition to the lawyer reviewing every part of the lease with a fine-toothed comb, my leasing agent and SCORE mentor were there every step of the way, providing inputs and recommendations,” McMahon says.

McMahon was featured in the On Small Business section of the Washington Post, highlighting his process of finalizing a successful lease agreement.

How SCORE helped. 

McMahon remembered SCORE from a few military-focused events he attended during his active duty service. “I always remembered how great the resource sounded -- almost too good to be true,” McMahon says. “After my recent experience, I have come to know that it is that good.”

“I didn’t even know what information I lacked until my SCORE mentor, Richard Rose (whom I call my guardian angel) entered the scene,” McMahon admits. “Through several initial meetings, we developed a list of critical areas where I needed the most help: finding a location utilizing a leasing agent; creating a reasonable letter of intent; negotiating the lease; and ensuring landlord responsibilities were fair and adequate. McMahon and Rose met once every week or two to review updates to McMahon’s plans.

“Without the assistance of SCORE, Urban Dwell may never have come to be, or would either still be in the development phase ,” McMahon says.

Urban Dwell was named Outstanding Veteran-Owned Small Business at the 2017 SCORE Awards. 

Urban Dwell

My Mentors