SBDC turns business dreams into reality

Success story: Program helps create, open businesses

By Dillon Brollier
On January 26, 2012

  • Garrett Baker, the owner of Happy Trails Outdoor Goods & More, Tuesday shows sophomore Sally Gore different backpacks. ASU’s SBDC helped Baker create his own outdoors goods business, which opened in September of 2011. Dillon Brollier
  • The store is located at 2023 Knickerbocker Road. Dillon Brollier

People often think of companies such as Wal-Mart, Apple and Microsoft as some of the biggest in the world.

All large corporations started out small, and nearly all of the founders needed help of some kind in the beginning.

The Small Business Development Center at ASU has helped many people open their own businesses in the last 22 years.

In the last couple of years the SBDC has helped start or expand about 40 businesses in the area, SBDC Director David Erickson said.

Normally the SBDC sees around 500 clients each year, Erickson said.

Among these small business owners is the owner of Happy Trails Outdoor Goods & More, Garrett Baker. Happy Trails opened in September of 2011.

"I used SBDC in the past when I worked with Family Power Sports, and when I started with the idea to open my own business they helped me with a lot of the things I was not familiar with," Baker said.

"I had the right idea," Baker said. "I knew how to sell, how to order product and market stuff, but I did not have the tools as far as accounting, balance sheets, and profit and loss statements."

It is really hard to get a loan from the bank, but SBDC helped organize all the detailed paperwork, Baker said.

SBDC Assistant Director Cindy Hartin is the agent who worked with Baker to make Happy Trails a reality.

"Garrett came to the SBDC about a year ago," Hartin said. "He and his family own Family Power Sports, but he wanted to do something on his own."

There are other stores in town that sell outdoor gear, but Baker thought there was a niche that San Angelo was missing. Baker started researching the possibility of running a retail store and selling certain brands that he believed people would want, Hartin said.

"I have been in retail for the last 13 years," Baker said. "If I wanted to stay in retail, I wanted to pursue a market that I was really interested in. I wanted to sell products that I was passionate about and not just sell stuff to make a paycheck."

 San Angelo has responded very positively to having a store like this, Baker said.

 "So far the store has been extremely successful," Baker said. "The store has exceeded the expectations that the SBDC and I came up with for the first four months of the calendar."

The SBDC is a nationwide network, Erickson said.

The regional SBDC offices in San Antonio created the San Angelo branch at ASU when Harlan Bruha, the first SBDC Director, contacted the regional SBDC offices in San Antonio and requested a branch for San Angelo.

By adding a branch at ASU, the SBDC is able to provide learning opportunities such as working with real businesses through internships, class projects or as a student worker of the SBDC, Erickson said.

 As one of SBDC's success stories, Baker has not forgotten about his core values.

"I have always been a good ole boy," Baker said. "As far as the way we have always done retail is simple, taking care of the customer. My dad is in retail and I took his values. That's the way I've learned."

 The SBDC hosts business training seminars throughout the year to help prospective business owners learn how to run a successful establishment.

The next seminar SBDC will host is "Financing Options for Your Small Business."

The seminar will be held in the Rassman building in room 100 Jan. 31 at 8:30 p.m.  The SBDC offices are in Rassman, room 201.


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