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.
You have to take negative situations and find a way to turn them into positive solutions, and I feel that this has been accomplished by dedicating many years into designing a company that has a simple, yet powerful, mission statement — Unite first class with secondhand.
This letter is to provide you with an insight of what we do, what we plan to accomplish, our current projects and efforts, and most importantly, how we plan to become an established brand and a recognized leader within this booming industry.
We have all felt the financial crisis affect each of our lives in one way or another, including myself, regardless of: social status, financial situation, or educational background. Everyone from the struggling college student to leaders of local Fortune 500 companies; we’ve all had to take a step back to reevaluate our own unique challenges, and begin to utilize more cost-conscious decisions as consumers, as well as, business owners. This company is designed to do just that without the need to sacrifice quality, service or value to our customers, and doing so, in a cost-conscious and sustainable manner.
Cargo Train is an apparel exchange company, privately owned, that offers clients and guests to: buy, sell, trade, and consign a wide-range of new and pre-owned, designer and name-brand merchandise, such as: clothing, fashion accessories, jewelry and select interior decor items at industry competitive prices. What we do is nothing new, but HOW we plan to utilize our resources and network, will clearly set Cargo Train apart from local competitors.
If you are unfamiliar to the resale industry, these types of businesses are commonly known as “thrift” or “secondhand” stores; however, Cargo Train is designed to be much more than this common ideology, and even more, we strive to be the first resale provider of its kind offered to the residents and visitors of our target location. It would not only be a great addition to the resale industry, but more importantly, a great addition to the City of St. Louis due to its focus on community engagement, That will benefit, not only our clients and customers, but several local charities and non-profit organizations. We are a company that continues to create innovative ideas that give back to our communities and actively pursues a ‘pay it forward’ attitude.
As I continue to publicly promote this company through the means of several social media platforms, local news publications, word-of-mouth advertising, and launching an informational website, my biggest challenge is locating a strong financial partner and/or investor(s) to secure start-up capitol, and take this company to the next level in its physical and social developments.
My strategies are primarily based on direct observations and market research from a vast background working for top private retail labels, including global retail giant, Hennes and Mauritz (H&M); where I focused my time in the areas of: visual merchandising, loss prevention, customer relations, and employee growth.
The location I have chosen is based upon on-site, real-time area analysis collected over a time span of three (3) years; with a heavy focus on high volume pedestrian traffic. All aspects of the primary location offer the most idealistic conditions that will make Cargo Train a successful venture, and offer the future opportunity to aggressively expand through out the Midwest region.
I have further discovered through my research, the primary location I have selected is found to be an open market opportunity. There are currently no known competitors that specialize in apparel exchange within a 5 mile radius of where Cargo Train will be located.
Again, this venture is time sensitive, and taking advantage of the open market availability will quickly set Cargo Train’s foundation within the City of St. Louis and officially become part of a 13 billion dollar industry. I strongly urge interested persons to contact me for further information about how I plan to make this company an innovative success.
Sitting in my office, enjoying the few moments of down time from dispatching on the radio. I start scrolling through my Twitter time line and coming across another story of success for a new start-up company that has secured (what is to me) a massive amount of funding, $250,000 to be exact, and all I could think of was “OH MY GOODNESS! I ONLY NEED A FRACTION OF THAT AMOUNT TO LAUNCH MY FIRST LOCATION”. I felt jealous and motivated at the same time. It’s an awkward feeling, and it’s an experience I have had many times before since I start putting my ideas into motion. I’m sure it won’t be the last.
I can see all of the vital pieces I need to reach my goal in opening the Cargo Train headquarters/home-store, and it gets tougher the more time passes by and you still haven’t found what you are looking for. This is one personality characteristic that I do have, which is a lack of patience, especially when I am trying to be the first store and company of its kind in an open market area. I want to take advantage of having some breathing room to establish my company and begin building its reputation and customer loyalty without the competition smothering me, or being branded as a ‘knock-off” or “copy cat”.
As of right now, the closest location of my main competitor is over 15 miles away from where I want to launch.
Feelings of despair trying to knock you off course and try to make you lose your focus, and all you have to keep yourself going is knowing what an amazing opportunity your company really is, and not just for me, but for my future partners, employees, customers, and for the community itself. The biggest challenge is getting the ones who have the ability to take your venture to the next level believe in your idea as strongly as you do. Strong enough to confidently partner up and bring all of the pieces together.
I know I will be an incredibly strong force to be reckoned with in this particular industry. My strategies and advantages give me leaps above my competitors, and I am keeping those strategies very safe and quiet until the time comes to utilize them. The connections and relationships I have been developing and growing over the past 10+ years, & everyone who is standing by waiting for me to inform them that we’ve secured a financial partner(s) and are finally ready to hit this industry with everything we’ve got, is the pivotal moment that I am waiting for.
I’m working for that opportunity to prove what I’ve been speaking out about for the past year, and to show what I am fully capable of doing. After all, I was born and raised in the “show me” state…ironically.
My husband and I are currently in talks of relocating our family from what was our dream house into a much smaller place, as well as, begin to sell off as many of our belongings as we can. All of the money saved and earned will be going into, what I am calling, the “CTA Dream Fund”. This will be the beginning of the financial foundation of my company. It breaks my heart to let everything we’ve worked so hard for go, but this company means much more to me than my possessions right now.
A big part of getting to where you want to be is having the strength to let go of what you have. – Me
We are currently searching for available places to call our new home.
Reading the news headlines this morning made my heart drop a little. Saddened that I had no problem posting more stories on more shooting deaths in St. Louis. Latest victim being a former St. Louis University student, Megan Boken, who was killed in an area that I have been hanging out in since I was 15. It is by far, one of my favorite places in St. Louis, and unfortunately, another tragic mark for the city.
It breaks my heart to post these types of headlines, but I don’t post them to keep a continuous string of content present on my Twitter timeline in hopes of gaining followers; I post them because it feels that there is an underground war taking place on the streets, and the (real) good guys are severely outnumbered and/or under-powered, or even worse, those in power that lack the ability to care enough to really make a difference, lack of passion for what they do. This fact would have my father (former Sgt. police officer) spinning in his grave. He literally died for his job. I compare his well-known passion for law enforcement to current officers today and some just don’t even come close to that level of professional pride. This is where citizen/residents stop having faith in the local police. Not all officers are like this, but it is beginning to become a horrible trend.
This is a growing hot topic within the St. Louis area right now. For me and for obviously reasons (current profession & family background), this is a topic I feel very strongly towards, and have plenty of opinions about. Some agree with me, some don’t. Everyone is pointing fingers, looking for people to hold responsible (other than the actual offenders themselves), but few of those complaints are accompanied by any solutions that would help the problem, verses, just complaining about it.
My solutions will not make everything perfect, but they will help if people take note, and then take action. I place a heavy emphasis on this, simply because I do not want to see the city lost to the decay of St. Louis’s society. This is my hometown, this is where my roots are, so I have a tendency to be a bit protective.
St. Louis is making great efforts to bring up the city’s reputation with all of the new small business start-up opportunities, and established business moving their headquarters within the area. This is definitely a positive solution that helps, but there are other key factors that are still missing.
Small business owners and residents are the majority of those in ANY given neighborhood. There is a strong responsibility that lies with business owners and residents to help protect their areas. Making it known that violence and crime will not be tolerated, and that YOU WILL NOT BE MADE A VICTIM BY THESE ASSES! Most people are fearful to do this, therefore, they go about their day-to-day routine never taking into account what is going on around them. I see them pass me all the time, most walking with their heads down and tunnel vision on.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. -ALBERT EINSTEIN
This needs to change. The police can not do it all, local politics can’t do it all, nor can residents do it all. IT HAS TO BE A COLLABORATION OF ALL 3 WORKING TOGETHER — If one piece is missing it makes it 10X harder to take back control of the city. Just the same as fighting bullies in high school.
Here is a little tip for RESIDENTS AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS that can have a significant impact on safety, as well as, improve local businesses and the communities they are located in:
This truly is simple to do, and will make you feel empowered verses a helpless bystander. It wont prevent things happening to you; we all know that life happens, but it will definitely make it a lot easier to catch the ones responsible when crimes DO happen.