Mike & Laureen Blakemore, Uncommonly Gifted, Blacksburg
During the summer of 2013 we had the idea to open a gift store in downtown Blacksburg. Our mission is offer items from around the world, including quality art glass and glassware, greeting cards, novelty items, and gifts for all occasions. We became a client of the Radford SBDC in the fall. During the initial consultation, Anthony Byrd offered us some extremely useful and relevant advice on how to get a successful start in business. Over the next two months, he was extremely helpful with many issues, including helping us:
- Writing our business plan
- Obtaining a $15,000 small business loan
- Selecting a POS systems
- Offering insight into potential layout issues of our store regarding security and visibility
- Advising us about resources to create a good press release for our grand opening
Anthony arranged for us to have a private consultation in our store with Marc Willson, Small Town and Main Street Program (STAMP) consultant. Marc assisted us with registering our business on Trip Advisor and advised us about our website and about marketing our store in general.
We opened our store, Uncommonly Gifted, on November 2; a soft opening which we publicized only through Facebook and Twitter, targeting friends and family. We had a huge turnout on the day and in addition to sales of approx $1,000 we received a great deal of positive feedback about our store and products. Our Grand Opening was on November 22. We had one of the largest turnouts for the Ribbon Cutting ever seen! We had over a hundred people in the space and received a great deal of publicity. We are able to pay all bills -- rent, electricity, phone, business taxes -- and have enough money to order more stock.
We have truly appreciated the personal support which we received from Anthony and Marc during the first month of our store opening. We also know that this support will be ongoing and feel that we can call on Anthony for advice or resources which we may need. Our relationship with the SBDC is an extremely important and invaluable resource to us and our business.
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