Skagit Valley Herald Article - Jun 2019
In August 2017 Christine approached SCORE seeking help in opening a small bakery/coffee house in the Mount Vernon area. She met with mentor John Sands, discussed her plans, and evaluated her preparation for this venture. Christine possessed some community college education in culinary and bakery and work experience at the Haggen bakery in Mt. Vernon. She had managed to accumulate sufficient capital to start her venture, although she knew she would need to borrow more in order to equip her location and provide for working capital. She arrived at SCORE with a business plan, which needed little additional updating.
Peter R., SCORE’s lead mentor in Skagit County, began mentoring through many follow-on sessions throughout 2017 & 2018 as Christine refined her financial projections, budgets for tenant improvements (TI), and equipment purchases; evaluated alternative locations; procured additional capital; purchased equipment; hired contractors for plumbing, electrical, and general construction; worked with the City of Mt Vernon on permitting issues; evaluated lease terms; determined her marketing strategy; and hired employees.
As Christine said:
“My mentor was there whenever I had questions and was always willing to set up a meeting. When I was most overwhelmed and felt like I didn’t know my next step, he was able to guide me and set me in the right direction. Having someone who has been through the process before is invaluable. There are so many pieces that go into opening a business that you just can’t learn from going to school. Having a mentor helped me through so many confusing and difficult spots. I am so grateful for the SCORE program and for the mentors that volunteer their time to help dreams like mine come true!”
Christine opened her shop in October 2018 and is now profitable and very busy while serving baked goods, coffee (of course), and delicious sandwiches to a steady stream of loyal customers.