Lee Perry purchased Thimbleberry Kids – a children’s and infant clothing and accessory re-sale shop in Traverse City – two years ago. With the help of Venture North, she’s planning to significantly raise her businesses’ profile.
Perry’s $35,000 loan from Venture North’s USDA fund will be used for a variety of steps to heighten visibility for the shop, located at 823 Garfield Ave. in Traverse City. The first step was to create a new sign for the exterior of the business, so customers will be able to find her location in the Garfield Center Plaza. The loan will also be used for other advertising and development of other marketing materials to create more local awareness of her business.
She’s also implementing a computerized “point of sale” system to better manage her sales and inventory, to replacing the hand-written tags she currently uses on her inventory. That will make it easier for her to track sales and inventory trends.
Perry also plans to expand the shop’s business base, which is currently about 85 percent from re-sale business. She plans to increase Thimbleberry Kids’ wholesale offerings to other local businesses, and to launch a rental service for baby equipment like cribs, strollers and other items.
“There’s a huge need for something like that in this market,” Perry said. She said vacationers and seasonal residents to Northern Michigan can’t or won’t bring all the children’s accessories they need – particularly if they’re flying in to the region. She also anticipates that grandparents who care for children will be interested in renting such items, rather than buying things they will only need on a temporary basis.
Perry said Venture North’s resources were critical to her business expansion. She wasn’t a candidate for traditional bank financing and that Venture North helped fill that business capital gap.
“I appreciate how it works, and how it’s been able to help us expand,” she said. “That fact that we were able to use it has been a total blessing.”
Click here to learn more about Venture North’s USDA Loan Fund.