Chasin’ Turkeys – Carleton Place, ON
The Small Business Advisory Centre’s Feature Business for October 2021 is Chasin’ Turkeys Bowling Center, located at 51 Bridge Street in Carleton Place, Ontario. The business has been owned and operated by Ashley Walrond and his family since 2018 and boasts six lanes of traditional 5 pin bowling with updated automatic pinsetters and ball returns. The fully licensed location is an excellent venue for birthday parties, corporate events, and leagues.
Chasin’ Turkeys, the term for bowling 3 strikes in a row, was established in 2018 when Walrond, who had a history of working in sales, found himself wanting to branch out into business ownership and entrepreneurship. The idea of owning and running a family entertainment business seemed like an exciting albeit challenging option due to the overwhelming capital costs needed to purchase a commercial space and to furnish equipment/machines. Luckily for Walrond, he approached the owner of the historic Carleton Place Bowling upon news of their retirement and was able to transitional ownership, including the building with its already existing lanes. The previous business was exceptionally well-run and highly regarded by the community allowing for the newly created Chasin’ Turkeys to be easily established.
As part of his business ownership journey, Walrond signed up for the Starter Company Plus Program to help ensure the health of his business. His entry into the program coincided with the first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic which allowed Walrond to fully commit to the program, although under tense and unknown circumstances. The program, which was being run online due to restrictions, allowed Walrond to connect and network with like-minded individuals which allowed him to gain perspective and develop strategic business alliances. He was able to develop a new business plan that helped to make improvements and streamline efficiencies within the business operations and ultimately allowed for a successful reopening.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected many, if not all businesses within our region. This is especially evident with the complete and lengthy closure of indoor entertainment venues. For Walrond, it was necessary to understand and work within the public health restrictions, and to expand his services to include home-use rentals like bowling mats, bowling bingo, and board game rentals which could be sanitized once returned. These changes allowed for a vital revenue stream during some of the toughest times. Walrond remains positive and offers this advice to other entrepreneurs struggling through tough times:
“You can’t take all the good times and not expect the bad times. Focus on the knowledge that there will always be better days and that there will always be others to help you when in need. Be kind to those who are struggling and offer help when possible.”
Chasin’ Turkeys can be contacted by phone at (613) 253-0094 or by visiting their website at https://www.chasinturkeys.ca/.
SEPTEMBER- FEATURED BUSINESS
THE PIE BAR
This month’s feature business is The Pie Bar, a small batch bakery located in the charming village of Westport, Ontario. The Pie Bar bakery is owned and operated by Stacy Blair, a Structural Engineer by trade, who reluctantly slipped into the world of baking during her maternity leave in 2013 in order to provide tasty snacks to her hungry husband. Ms. Blair’s husband had worked in a bakery during his youth and was happy to teach her traditional techniques and recipes. Throughout the learning process, Blair fell in love with the process of baking and soon started a blog and Instagram page which amassed a large following.
The Pie Bar business started organically over the years as Blair started bringing her baked goods to local farmers’ markets. In 2019, after many years of trial and error, the business proved to be sustainable, so Blair decided to take leave from her engineering career to pursue her newfound passion. By 2020, Blair and The Pie Bar were successfully providing pre-orders and ready-to-go baked goods to surrounding communities. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the business continued to rally support much to the surprise of Blair and her family. Customers understandably desired access to ready-to-go, delicious, and beautifully crafted comfort foods and The Pie Bar filled that slice of the market.
Stacy Blair was a successful participant and grant recipient of the Starter Company Plus Program organized by the Small Business Advisory Centre of Lanark County/Smiths Falls. Blair found the program beneficial in that she was better able to see the vision of the business and make more strategic decisions, especially regarding finances. When asked what her advice would be for other entrepreneurs, Blair stated:
“If you aren’t happy at your 9 – 5 job, take the leap and jump into small business and make a life worth living. Follow your dreams, take a chance and see where it will bring you.”
The Pie Bar can be found on Instagram at the_pie_bar and on Facebook @ThePieBarCanada. You can also contact Stacy Blair directly on the business phone (613) 453-2647 or email email@example.com.
The Arts Hub – Smiths Falls
This month’s Featured Business is The Arts Hub, located in Smiths Falls, ON. The Arts Hub is the collaborative creation of Ambre McLean and Matt Connell with Rosalyn Dennett and Rob McLaren, two couples who had the desire to unite the Arts Community and showcase the seemingly under-represented musical and artistic talent local to Smiths Falls. The business provides a collective workspace for artists to develop and display their passions, including music/vocal rooms for private/group lessons, a recording/sound studio, an art gallery, and a boutique gift shop.
Owner Ambre McLean explains that the formation of the business was serendipitous in nature in that the couples moved to Smiths Falls at approximately the same time and connected online soon after relocating. Ambre and Rosalyn, who are both professional touring musicians, had crossed paths throughout their careers at national and international music festivals and conferences. Further, while developing the idea for The Arts Hub, the group stumbled across an available commercial building (14 Main Street W) that had the exact requirements needed for the proposed multi-function workspaces, including an existing storefront design and name from previous business “Serendipity Lane”. The group knew the beautiful storefront, with its gorgeous showcase windows, would allow for the display and sale of numerous makers and artists found locally, an essential component to the business plan.
The business’s success to date has been made possible through the symbiotic integration of several independent businesses that share the workspace, blending complementary skills and expertise within a variety of industries. The businesses, which are represented by members of the ownership team, includes Smiths Falls Music (private and group music/vocal lessons and workshops), Northwood Studios (an independent record label geared toward Canadian singer/songwriters), and Stump Media (a female-owned, Canadian-based label focusing on artist management and promotion).
Ambre McLean was a successful participant and grant recipient of the Starter Company Plus Program organized by the Small Business Advisory Centre of Lanark County/Smiths Falls. Through the program, McLean was able to learn how to structure the business, develop a business plan, and develop key networking relationships with other entrepreneurs within the group, many of whom have remained close and supportive since the end of the program. McLean valued the group’s input which gave her clarity and validation about the unique yet wholly similar challenges each entrepreneur experiences. When asked about what advice McLean would give to other entrepreneurs starting out, she said:
“Limit what expectations you may have and try to gain a realization of what can be accomplished. Have patience and try to be content with what resources you have available at any given time.”
Upon opening, The Arts Hub was received positively by both vendors and customers alike, with support being expressed through the increase of foot traffic driven primarily by word-of-mouth. McLean graciously acknowledged the support of the Smiths Falls Downtown Business Association (DBA), the Smiths Falls Chamber of Commerce, and the Town of Smiths Falls, including Mayor Shawn Pankow. McLean thanked her customers, students and their families, and vendors who have continued to support the business with understanding and compassion while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many businesses, The Arts Hub collective team has not been unaffected by the pandemic and has been required to challenge themselves to meet each hurdle. McLean admits that some benefits may have come from the initial shut-down (and subsequently reduced foot traffic) which allowed the team to work out small kinks and regroup/restructure to allow for the development of creative and inspiring new ways to run the business online. Happily, over 90% of registered students continued learning throughout the pandemic through the online program.