Amy Smerekanich first came to the North Central ISBDC to attend the “Business Feasibility: Can I Make Money at This?” workshop. She had already started developing the content for a business plan based on her vision of opening a specialty yarn shop in the South Bend area. With her extensive background in art and a strong interest in knitting and fiber arts, Amy had a solid knowledge of the trade.
What Amy most needed help with was determining if her extensive market knowledge would make for a feasible business. Together, Amy and South Bend SBDC Business Advisor, Staci Lugar Brettin, developed a strategy for pulling together the research Amy needed from the needle artists that she depended on for a sustainable business model.
Despite Amy’s desire to open a shop in the downtown South Bend area, an existing knit shop already located in the Central Business District caused Amy to redirect her site location. She found that the downtown Niles, MI area, just outside of South Bend, was an ideal location to access knitters from Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana.
Following the completion of her feasibility study, Amy attended the “Preparing Your Business Plan” workshop to learn how to integrate what she had learned during her feasibility study into a final business plan. Shortly after Amy completed her market research, she met with Staci to finalize her marketing strategy and complete the marketing portion of her business plan. Amy then met with North Central SBDC Business Advisor Bob York, to review how to develop financial projections for her business.
Amy opened Red Purl Knits on September, 27, 2007 in her 800 square-foot shop with European décor and yarns and fibers from all over the world. Her first month’s revenues were 25% higher than originally projected, and she had to reorder inventory shortly after her grand opening to accommodate the higher sales. Based on customers’ requests and ever-increasing sales, Amy is expanding her inventory to include a new line of knitting needles, knitting accessories, two new lines of yarn, and numerous patterns and books.
“The North Central SBDC workshops and business advising were critical to my start-up. Even more, my business advisor regularly contacts me to help me work through the next steps of my growing business.”