Solano SBDCFairfield, CA

"The SBDC gave me the needed insight to see that I would have to add classes to my business plan in order to be a successful retailer in our quiet little town. I have a tendency to be over optimistic so I very much appreciated their help in keeping my feet on the ground with regular 'reality checks.'"

Debra Minnema-Dingman

Debra Dingman is a Certified Childbirth Educator/Bradley Doula and started writing her business plan to open a new and gently used clothing and gear for children and mother-to-be store in downtown Dixon. She previously owned a similar store in Davis for approximately 23 years which gives her great insight into this industry. The owner of a cake decorating business was moving to the space next door and also happened to be the building’s owner and thus offered Debra a great rent.

Client was able to get a $500/month rent agreement from the owner (no lease) and would be able to borrow from family which would leave her undercapitalized based on her budget. The store doesn’t have very much parking during the day since it is downtown but has lots of space in the evenings. Dingman also has long-standing relationship with Mother & Baby Source store in Davis so she did have a resource for out-of-season and overstock items. 

Over the past 12 or so years, client has utilized SBDC for bookkeeping and tax trainings as well as assistance moving from a sole proprietor to partnership and then selling her prior business. Knowing that startup cash would be tight, Debra needed assistance in determining areas to concentrate on and how to generate income quickly. Debra met with an SBDC Business Advisor to discuss the need to get into the space and hold her training classes - natural childbirth, bringing up baby, and Grandparenting 101 ASAP. Debra and the SBDC also discussed the possibility of renting space for baby photography and music for children.

Debra opened store at the end of February 2012. She has developed her terms for resale and consignment to her benefit and averages $.50 per inventory item. She obtained a family loan for $6,000 for startup costs.

The store is now filled with inventory purchased from her clients; she is filling her childbirth classes and getting good response from her bi-weekly toddler’s read time. She is seeing a gradual increase in her weekly sales gross and marketing is starting to be effective based on customer comments.  She is creating a gently used maternity clothes niche based on customer desires.

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.