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National Small Business Week Spotlight: Q&A Community Thrift and Treasure, Inc.

Access to working capital is one of the greatest challenges small businesses face. One of our long-standing clients Kim Cabeceiras knows this all too well. She leveraged our funding multiple times to transform and rebuild operations at her retail store, Community Thrift and Treasure in Glenwood Springs, Colorado after taking it over from a previous owner.

Reliant Funding has funded Community Thrift and Treasure six times since 2015. Each time, the capital allowed her to elevate her business operations. Our partnership with her represents the drive behind what we do at Reliant: build partnerships with small businesses to help them grow. Here’s is the story of how owner Kim rebuilt a business with working capital from Reliant:

After taking the business over from a previous owner, what challenges did you face?

Kim: In the beginning, we faced a lot of roadblocks while trying to get the store off the ground. At the time, our biggest challenge was managing our employees and volunteers. Both were stealing from the cash register and from the donations regularly.  We had a big problem. They weren’t paying attention to the customers and so, they were stealing too. It had a huge impact on our bottom line. We were losing inventory and customers.

Before we took over the store, the previous business had also been a thrift store for 20 years. Because of that fact, the previous owners freely accepted public donations, and so the public was trained to dump everything there overnight. The dumps happened often and we were paying about $15k a year to get rid of the overflow of trash. Things weren’t functioning overall, and we really needed help.

How did you arrive at the decision to work with Reliant?

Kim: I received a prequalified offer from Reliant in the mail and it felt like fate. I called that day to get information and the representative was so helpful. It felt like I was talking to a friend. He was very supportive and he gave me a lot of hope about my situation.

The application process was effortless and I put together the needed documents very easily. It seems like the process went super-fast every time I’ve funded with Reliant. Whatever I needed, my representative always answered and returned my calls. I’ve been very happy – it’s quality service, professional and efficient.

You’ve funded a total of six times with us. How did those funds help you to overcome those challenges?

Kim: We needed to clean up and overhaul a lot of things initially. After taking out the first and second funds, we immediately saw a profit. We used the money to get rid of all the garbage from the public dumping on our property and cleared out old inventory. We retrained the public to only bring quality donations, and now we hardly have any dumping. What we pay for trash removal dropped to about $5k a year instead of the 15k we were paying previously.

The first month the money helped dig us out of our hole, as we were behind on rent. After dealing with these initial issues, we were almost immediately in the black and completely caught up.

The third and fourth time we funded with Reliant allowed us to make cosmetic and utility changes to the store. We built shelving, added fresh paint to the interior store, exterior fences and parking lot. We even hired an artist to paint sunflower art and bought new signage and security motion lights.

Also, we renovated our loft, and for the first time, we could store all our off-season inventory for the future. We kept all our Christmas, Halloween and winter inventory and made a killing off it when it was time to sell it in season.

The fifth and sixth time we funded were the biggest boosters of our business. We hired a business consultant to streamline our processes, make capital improvements and give us general finance advisement. As a result, our operations are now more organized and streamlined.

Through this consultant, we’ve also improved our hiring and interview processes. We’re able to invest in recruiting higher quality employees and offer better wages. Also, we have a more structured and vetted volunteer system in place.

What has your return on investment been funding with us?

Kim: Our sales have doubled since we initially funded and now I’m trying to triple them. When we first started, we were bringing in $200 – $400 a day. Now we are making between $600 and $1,300 a day. From all the changes we’ve made, our numbers have gone up and up. I was about to give up before I called Reliant. I was ready to be done.

Then I got a second hope. They helped me turn it around. If I didn’t have the extra capital to make moves, I wouldn’t have been able to fix the issues. The first loan gave me the positive attitude to keep going. And it’s turned around incredibly. Most of my customers are back and then some. We live in an area where there’s a lot of thrift stores, and we are one of the most competitive in the area now.

What’s next for your business?

Kim: We are now planning to expand our storage areas and inventory in the future and hope to triple the profits. We’ve recently added art classes to our store and plan to expand on that art program by adding sewing classes as well. We were happy to be able to keep this community resource alive by taking it over. Just from implementing the art programs, we’ve attracted more customers. The local farmers market may also start setting up in our parking lot, so there’s a lot of exciting things to come.

We love to see small businesses expand, improve and prosper with our funding. We work with many financial partners to create a variety of customizable financing options. Many of our clients use us as a renewable source of working capital whenever the need arises.

Based on the needs and finances of the business, we will work together to find a number and plan that works best. If you have questions about our programs,  we are here to help.

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