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.
I CAN’T SLEEP. Most of the time I would be getting pissed right about now, complaining about a day that hasn’t happened yet, however, some of my insomnia nights are very beneficial to me. I can’t sleep because I have millions of idea running through my head, and can’t seem to shut them off. So as I know one way to suppress them, is to write.
Now I understand why one of my lead adviser told me to keep a pen and paper near by me at all times. A Laptop will have to suffice.
I literally dream and visualize my entire company. I see my company having multiple stores, and I know exactly how I would accomplish that. My strategies and how they would make me unique in the industry. I can see the steps that I have to take to get exactly where I want my company to be. I know what I will have to sacrifice, but keeping myself focused on the ultimate goal doesn’t make them feel like sacrifices simply because; my company is worth it. I honestly can’t visualize myself doing anything else for the next 20-35 years. This is it.
If I can cross paths with a handful of other people that share my intensity for business and fashion. This company would dominate the St.Louis-Midwest region. Finding others like myself is proving to be a little more difficult than I imagined, but I know they are out there. Just a matter of time. So until then, I will keep building what I can to get myself closer to where I want to be.
Ultimate goal: Be the leading branded chain-resale merchandise provider within a 50 mile radius of St. Louis. (Give Plato’s Closet some healthy competition)
BRING IT ON!