I’ve survived summer. I knew it was going to be a challenging one. Toughest one in years actually, and now it’s time to: get up, brush myself off, and get ready for Round 2.
Lots going on, big changes. Waiting out the storm to be able to see the rainbow.
Awaiting final word on whether the landlord of the property I’m working diligently to get will accept me as a tenant. If approved, CTA will be able to continue progressing and growing…getting now just mere steps from reaching my home store goal; if rejected, then it’ll be time to find another path to take for Cargo Train.
I’ve never been so nervous, and a job loss and marriage separation is making this venture 10x more difficult. All that is driving me right now is the pure passion I have for my company and for my future.
Only time will tell. I hope to be able to report back with good news.
OK… UPDATE ON ARCH GRANT PROCESS….THERE’S ONE LITTLE PROBLEM…..
I emailed the committee through their website requesting permission to submit my business as a valid entry even though it wouldn’t be located within Downtown St. Louis, but IS still located within the city limits. I have yet to receive a decision…so I am currently stuck in limbo, but I am not stopping any momentum I am trying to build up. I am continuing on as I have been for the past year, and hopefully will get a big thumbs up…soon. There are major reasons why I want to launch outside of downtown; which I expressed my main ones through my email to the Arch Grants, and wanted to express in a little more detail why I don’t feel downtown is the best market to consider at this time (not to exclude it completely from future local expansion plans)
1.) Limited pedestrian traffic, and limited vehicle traffic. — Yes, this area is rebuilding and rebounding, which is awesome and amazing, but it hasn’t yet hit it’s peak, and there is no guarantee that, once it is completed, that it will pull people back to the downtown area. My business could actually have a GREATER chance of FAILING by simply having to “wait and see” if the area does in fact, rebound. Currently, I don’t see a lot of daytime traffic (pedestrian or vehicle) outside of Washington Ave. and Market St. And even then, it is only certain blocks on Wash Ave and Market that would make it a viable market for my company.
I don’t have the time to wait for my target market to come to me, nor, do I have the extra finances to invest in additional marketing, advertising, and enticing promotions. I have to go to them….SIMPLE! I find locations that ALREADY have the pedestrian and vehicle traffic established, in combination with, my customer demographics. Downtown, currently, is a POSSIBLE market, but not appropriate for my action plan at this time…unfortunately.
2.) Not exactly an open market….anymore — My initial excitement about launching in downtown was the fact that it was an open market opportunity. There were no current resale providers (with a positive public image) within the area. However, last June, MOV clothing store launched at Washington and 13th. (My Round 1 Arch Grant submission last Feb/March listed CTA’s location to be at or near Washington and 4th) One of my stronger advantages is locating open or under-served locations, and as closely located to my target market as physically possible. It’s having that “head-start” in building the company’s customer/client loyalty that will be a big factor in CTA’s overall sustainability, and most importantly, being EASILY ACCESSIBLE to my customers and clients. I welcome the competition, but there are big perks in being first!
St. Louis (as a whole) is a very business-loyal community. If you execute your business correctly, you will have loyal customers for life — FOR EXAMPLE: The Coffee Cartel (located at Euclid and Maryland in the CWE) is a single location, and yet, their customers and associates are so die-hard loyal that this one little St. Louis coffee shop put big ‘ol Starbucks (which was located across the street) out of business.
3.) Crime in downtown – Being a police dispatcher for areas bordering with St. Louis City, I hear of a lot more that goes on than what most St. Louis residents and businesses know of. Most crimes never make it to the evening news, and my confidence is still insecure for a few different reasons that I can’t currently disclose of at this time (professional/political conflict of interest) but they are compelling.
4.) Target market conflict – Like I said before, my business needs to be located as close to my customers as possible. This is one of my marketing strategies that will greatly increase my appeal to my customers, the flow of customer traffic into the store, and provide me with an endless supply of potential employees. I do not have this advantage if I launch in downtown right now. The building I have picked out to become my “living business model” has a large concentration of my target market located right across the street, and directly next door….no joke. This is an area that most in my position could only dream of having, and yet, here I am, looking at the big FOR SALE sign on the building and dying a bit inside by truly knowing its full potential.
……I am really hoping that they will accept my business submission, and that I will be able to confidently pursue the competition! Right now, only time will tell.
Ahhh….it is that time again!
ARCH GRANTS COMPETITION 2013!
For my readers who are unfamiliar with the Arch Grants…here is a really quick run down: (20) $50K grant awards for businesses and start-ups either currently located, or willing to relocate their business to the downtown St. Louis area. It is a tough, tough competition with hundreds and hundreds of entries last year….and the AG committee is expecting the number of entries this year to grow into the thousands now that the competition is being offered worldwide. This will be Cargo Train’s 2nd year in the competition.
Last year, unfortunately, CTA did not progress far enough to win one of the grants, and that was OK. I had high hopes on winning of course, but I knew more importantly that I needed to pay close attention to the competition process that first year, and take the opportunity to strengthen Cargo Train’s foundation.
I can smile today being a last-year-loser simply because Round 1 was ultimately the event that launched the public awareness campaign for CTA, and it was the first time I had ever introduced this company to the public. This time…last year…. CTA was nothing more than all of my ideas and storefront doodles on cheap spiral-bound notebooks, and worlds away from what it is today.
Taking you back a bit….Here is the story on how I got involved with the Arch Grants.
…it was completely on accident/luck/chance/fate…..
in January 2012, I was contacted by Chris Lim, an entrepreneur based out of Los Angeles, CA, and his message to me was along the lines of, “Why are you special?” This obviously got my attention, and the first response I gave back was…. “nothing.”
Chris took my comment in stride and we began to play 20 questions after I saw that Chris was a former officer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department; a department that my uncle had retired from as Lieutenant some years ago after 35+ years of service (Yes, I did call my uncle to make sure that Chris was who he said he was…not that I didn’t believe him, I just didn’t know him….Sorry Chris) And yes, everything checked out just fine 🙂
Our Twitter conversation continued on. Then Chris had asked me, “What do you do for a living?” and I told him that I was currently a police dispatcher in St. Louis….,” then I paused briefly,….and for some reason I added, “…but it [dispatching] wasn’t my life’s ambition.” Chris proceeded to ask the million-dollar question of “why?”, and that opened the door for me to confess about my secret entrepreneur life that I had been hiding since high school.
Chris was intrigued and we agreed on a phone meeting, and this is when I took the opportunity of asking Chris why he thought I was “special”, and he told me that he was just curious since he saw that Tony Robbins was one of my followers on Twitter, and that is what lead him to initially contact me.
As our phone conversation continued, we went through my background and what lead me to…. just start designing this company back in high school. After hearing my story, Chris said that he wanted to help me pursue my life’s “true purpose” of pushing myself into the fashion industry somehow. I had the passion but no plan what so ever.
Chris heard information about the Arch Grants competition, and I love what he told me that day, which was in such a confident tone of voice: “We are going to get you one of those grants” It was one of the best feelings ever…..and at that moment, Cargo Train had began to SLOWLY take shape into what it where it is today.
Before the Arch Grants, I only knew that I wanted to be involved in fashion, and that I didn’t want to pursue apparel design or manufacturing (I suck at drawing & sewing) as much as I wanted to find an area where I could exploit my obsession for shopping and extreme bargain-hunting………and then..
My knowledge was vast among brand labels and designers after chasing them damn near my entire life, as well as, several more fun facts, and an OPEN MARKET OPPORTUNITY that show me this venture is more than possible to obtain with a true potential of ranking within the top 3 consignment/resale apparel companies within the Greater St. Louis area, and eventually paving the way to expand nationally
Round 1 did a lot in the initial development of this company, I can hardly begin to imagine what Round 2 will bring! If interested in learning more about the competition, here is the official Arch Grant website