On March 15th, the day before Governor Scott ordered the closure of all restaurants due to the evolving Covid-19 crisis, the Toohey family temporarily closed their chocolate shop and café on Burlington’s Battery Street to customers. The following day, instead of filling retail cases with their handcrafted chocolates, they were picking, packing, and shipping these delicacies to addresses across the country. Their mail-order business had taken centerstage.
“This has been an incredibly trying time to be a small business owner,” said Nora DeMuth, owner of the Flower Basket in Hardwick, Vt. “I can’t remember ever needing to think through major decisions so many times and within such a short period of time like I’ve needed to do over the past few months.”
Less than three months ago, Dar and John Tavernier of Tavernier Chocolates, based in Brattleboro, Vt, relied on in-store sales for the bulk of their revenue. You could find their gourmet chocolates in shops and markets throughout the Northeast. Today, with diminished retail opportunities due to the Covid-19 crisis, their mail-order business has taken center stage.
“We’ve tried to make the best of this extremely stressful time by focusing on the things we can control and imagining how to improve our business when we eventually reopen,” said Cortney Keene, co-owner of Keene Perspectives in White River Junction, a behavioral health center for children with autism and other developmental disorders.
In 2013, Corey and Kelly Duteau bought Freedom Pharmacy, a Williston-based company that provides personalized medication management services to customers in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York. The independently owned pharmacy works with physicians and insurance companies to deliver prescription refills to their customers’ doorstep. The medications are organized into personal pill cups that make it easy to keep tracks of daily doses.
If a white-haired grandmotherly type comes to mind when you imagine your typical knitter, think again. Over 40 percent of crafters today are millennials (ages 18-34), and 36 percent are 35 to 54 years old, according to Mark Hill, CEO of the Association for Creative Industries, in an article on Forbes.com. And more than 20 percent of the knitting market exists here in New England.
Sometimes the risk is worth the reward. This is the gamble Dr. Phil Kiely and his partners at Tamarack Family Medicine were willing to take when they decided to leave a large hospital system to open a physician-owned practice in Morrisville, Vt. Like many physicians who choose to strike out on their own, the group wanted more autonomy and control over their day-to-day workflow. But they needed help turning an idea into a fully functional medical practice. So they reached out to VtSBDC advisor Charlie Ininger.
Two cafés in two years. Not even Charlotte and Johnny Steverson, owners of Kestrel Coffee Roasters, would have believed you if you had told them in July 2018, when they opened their first café and coffee roastery on Community Drive in Burlington, that they’d launch their second location just over a year later. But this fall, the couple announced the opening of a second café in downtown Burlington. Read more
Last spring Cayden Theberge was contemplating his next business venture when he enrolled in Greg Hughes’ business planning seminar at Vermont Technical College. Theberge, age 21, owns a 68-acre farm in Sheldon, Vermont, where he manages 75 head of beef cattle and a growing herd of dairy cows. His company, Theberge Meats, sells locally grown beef to retailers and distributors throughout the country. Read more
It’s not easy to find success in the specialty foods market. The owners of Tavernier Chocolates, based in Brattleboro, Vermont, have worked hard to turn their delicious product into a profitable business. They’ve rolled up their sleeves and put in the long hours. But just as importantly, they’ve known when and who to ask for help.
“They are honest, capable, efficient, and it’s good to know that there’s a local auto shop with friendly people that I can trust to do a good job with my car.” This is just one of nearly 700 five-star customer reviews that say, in one way or another, the same thing. Don’s Auto Service is known for its friendly service, honest work, and fair rates.
Last winter Kelly and Ricky Klein of Groennfell Meadery announced they would be closing their popular tasting room and restaurant in Colchester. It was a tough decision. But less than a year later, their new facility in St. Albans is going strong. They’ve tripled their brewing facility and are distributing their product throughout New England. Here’s their story..
TimberHomes Vermont, a design-build timber frame company, had been in business over a decade when the owners decided it was time to build on their success. First, they decided to transition from an LLC to an employee-owned cooperative, giving more decision-making power to their team of dedicated employees. Then they began planning for their next stage of business growth.
“My work with Steve Densham from the VtSBDC has completely shifted my mindset regarding executing business decisions,” said Dr. Mehaffey, owner of Epic Wellness in South Burlington. Densham helped Dr. Mehaffey develop systems and strategies to take her company to the next level.
“I will always be thankful to have worked with VtSBDC advisors who were not just helpful, but great people who were enjoyable to work with,” said Sean Lawson, co-owner of Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Waitsfield. In less than a decade the company has expanded from a one-barrel nanobrewery to a 30-barrel production facility that distributes its award-winning beer throughout New England.
“You can make the best beer in world, but if you can’t make money you won’t be around long enough for folks to enjoy your beer.” This is the first piece of advice Charley Ininger, a business advisor with the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), shares with aspiring brewers at the American Brewers Guild’s bi-annual workshop in Middlebury, where he teaches the business side of brewing.
In 2016 Poutry bought The Islander, a free weekly newspaper serving Northwest Vermont and Northern New York, from George Fowler, who retired after 35 years at the helm. She was a natural fit for the role. After 15 years as an employee for the company, she had hands-on experience in every aspect of the publishing process and was passionate about the paper’s mission. She said that her decision to purchase the company was driven by the desire “to continue the long-standing commitment the newspaper has to the communities we serve.”
Roam will celebrate its one-year anniversary this spring. The retail shop, located in downtown Montpelier, sells outdoor-lifestyle footwear and apparel. “The VtSBDC proved to be an invaluable resource when planning to open my business,” said owner Bobbie Roehm. “Without it, I’m not sure if I would actually be open today.”
Heather Hudson had been running a successful child-care business in St. Johnsbury for five years when she saw an opportunity to expand. A competing child-care center became available for purchase, and she wanted to buy it.
But was it a good idea? Hudson needed to determine whether the purchase was a sound financial move. Read More
Two Vermont potters turn their passion into a multi-faceted business that supports the clay arts in their community. This month Wheelhouse Clay Center opened its doors in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. “Our studio will enable the joy, healing, growth, and wisdom that often emerges from engaging in the clay arts,” co-owner Teta Hilsdon said. Read More
It’s tempting to rest on your laurels, especially when you’ve been in business for over 35 years. But complacency isn’t what enabled Jim Parker, founder of Warren-based Clear Water Filtration, to grow a successful business. Today, Jim’s children, Jen Fleckenstein and Steve Parker, continue his legacy of innovation and problem-solving.
The best business ideas solve problems. She Fly Apparel, founded by two recent graduates of Middlebury College and supported by a team of Middlebury students, addresses a dilemma every adventurous woman faces in the great outdoors: how to pee with privacy and comfort. Using innovative zipper and flap technology, the company’s line of layerable outdoor pants puts a feminine spin on the traditional fly, enabling women to “go on the go” without having to disrobe.
Cortney and Chris Keene are realizing their dream. In February 2018 they opened Keene Perspectives, PLLC. in White River Junction, a behavioral health center that offers individualized services to children with autism and other developmental disorders. When they first envisioned their new business several years ago, they weren’t sure how to turn their idea into a reality. That’s when they reached out to the Vermont Small Business Development Center for help developing, growing, and maintaining their business.
Ingrid and Franklin Chrisco, owners of Vermont-based True North Granola, have come a long way since they first started selling granola from a booth at the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market in 2006. The growth of their business can be largely attributed to their hard work and willingness to ask for help. But they’ll tell you that their VtSBDC advisor, Steve, had a significant hand in their success.
Two amazingly talented artists (Jessie makes exquisite jewelry and Michael makes eclectic furniture). A passion for their fellow Vermont artists’ works. Plus an incredible shared eye for all things beautiful. For Jessie and Michael Alon that means not just one gallery but two. One simply can’t contain their creativity and dedication. The downtown art boutique –DaVallia–features Jessie’s work combined with arts and crafts from fifty artists and on the way out of town –39 North Gallery– focuses on fine art, furniture and accessories for your home.
Megan Haygood and her family already had the land, hay and equipment needed to start a horse boarding, breeding, training and riding facility in Danville. But they knew they needed more in order to start a successful business. Enter Michelle Lemieux, an established equine trainer and manager and you have the makings of a quality small business partnership.
El Gato Cantina has quickly grown into a well-known authentic Mexican experience for northern Vermont diners. Their flagship Burlington location has long provided a wide variety of dishes and appetizers crafted from traditional Mexican family recipes. And that’s not including the fully stocked bar complete with seasonally-inspired house-infused tequila recipes like “jalapeno tequila,” “orange tequila” and “tricky kitty.”
When March rolls around in Vermont’s Green Mountains many large scale sugar makers are already hard at work tapping trees and boiling sap into the sweet syrup the state’s famous sugar maples provide. But there’s also a cadre of small scale home producers who focus on providing a gallon or two for their family and friends.