Donna G. owns Beach Memories by the Sea, a beachside boutique that sells souvenirs and beach ware. Originally from Las Vegas, Donna and her husband moved to Corpus Christi 20 years ago to manage another beach-themed boutique in the neighboring Padre Island National Seashore Park. They bought Beach Memories by the Sea 11 years ago, and have been running it ever since.
Located inside a Holiday Inn on the North Padre Island Beach, Donna’s business relies heavily on tourists and guests staying at the hotel. The tourist season lasts from spring break through Labor Day, with business dropping off sharply as soon as the weather cools. Donna’s strategy has always been to save enough money during the tourist season so that they can survive the down-season. However, the past couple of years have been very slow, no doubt in part due to the fact that fewer people were vacationing because of the recession. These unusually lean times caused Donna to rethink her business strategy for the down-season.
Donna and her husband work at the store full-time and have a part-time employee who helps them. Though they want to continue catering to tourists, they believe that for their business to grow, they must develop a local client base. They are doing this by bringing in higher-end clothing and other merchandise that will appeal to non-tourists. To help spread news of their new inventory, they plan to market their business in the local newspaper and other media outlets. They also hope to benefit from word of mouth advertising as locals discover them anew while dining at the hotel’s restaurant or attending business conferences hosted at the hotel.
With this loan from ACCION Texas-Louisiana, Donna and her husband are paying off the new inventory that they have ordered, as well as building their business’ credit. Donna is most proud of being able to offer nice merchandise at an affordable price, which she says sets her store apart from other shops that cater to tourists. Fortunately, business is better so far this year than it has the past couple of years. The real test, however, will come this fall when the tourists leave.
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.