Bridal 'N More: A Successful Dakota Business Lending 504 Borrower
January 2, 2017
For years, the bridal industry had struck the interest of Jody Smith in a particular way. With a master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degree in business, Jody was more than capable to start up, take over, or successfully operate a small business. As she continually looked, researched, and evaluated several opportunities to open her own bridal shop someday, she made sure to keep any eye out for something local with a hometown feel. She dreamed of owning a business that she could one day pass on to her children or be a mentor to someone interested in the business down the road. It wasn’t until Jody came across Bridal N’ More that she began to see the reality of this dream.
Although she had been looking into several other business opportunities in the Bismarck area, Bridal N’ More seemed to fall into place. After contacting the agents, Jody was able to meet with the current boutique owner. As it turns out, they were both looking for the same thing. The current owner, whose daughters had passed up the opportunity to take over the business, was looking for someone who was in it for the long-term and was willing to take the business further.
“She wanted someone who really had their heart invested in it too because it was a labor of love for her to get the business going…she wanted someone who could take it, do it, and go on with it. That’s exactly who I was.”
In 2009, Jody purchased Bridal N’ More. Along with merchandise ranging from bridal gowns, tuxedos, prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, suits, shoes, and accessories, Bridal N’ More also offers custom alterations. Throughout these past eight years, Jody has worked hard to accomplish her goal of changing the way people feel and think about bridal stores in the Bismarck area. When she realized that her current shop did not offer room for growth and was not suitable for long-term operations, Jody started looking for a new place to relocate her shop. With her only setback being finances, Jody decided to seek help from her bank and was introduced to the SBA 504 loan program.
“When I saw the need to relocate I went to my bank and they suggested an SBA loan to help me out. Buying a building is a significant expense and it was nice to be able to go in, get qualified, and have some help out with that.
Jody worked in collaboration with the Kirkwood Bank & Trust and Dakota Certified Development Corporation (now Dakota Business Lending) in order to utilize this 504 loan program.
She said it was because of the bank, Dakota CDC, and the SBA’s desire to invest in her and her business that she was able to get the help she needed to successfully relocate.
“It was really seamless. The SBA gave us the information and the bank filled out all of it. Dakota CDC (now Dakota Business Lending) was really helpful and supportive,” expressed Jody.
This relocation has brought about many additional opportunities for Bridal N’ More. Since rent downtown had really skyrocketed with the oil boom, having her own space allowed Jody to keep the price down. To correlate with Jody’s desire to combine small town hospitality with a big city style shop, the expansion at her new location also allowed her to build private bridal rooms that offer a special atmosphere for the bride and her guests. The space has added a sense of freedom and privacy they didn’t have before. “In our old store, everyone was on top of each other. If you had ten people in there, it felt like 100. Now, if you have ten people in here, you might not even think there is one person”
Bridal N’ More prides itself in being known as a one-stop shop for any formal attire needs. “We try to make everything run smooth,” explains Jody.
“If people are buying bridal attire at four different stores, they have to jump from here to there. I think when people do everything here, it’s a lot easier on them and their attendants.”
With of her deep focus on the relationship aspect of business, Jody’s favorite part of her job is her interaction with customers. In fact, the relationships they establish with their customers is what sets Bridal N’ More apart from other bridal stores. “We’re in it for that long-term relationship,” Jody explains. Over the years, they have had many families come back more than once for proms, weddings, and other formal events. She has the privilege to watch families grow in a whole new way. She’s been invited to weddings and has had brides stop in the store years after their wedding to show off their new babies! Jody loves when customers come back to show her pictures or tag her in Facebook posts to see pictures from the different events they have helped with. “Honestly, we want to see them because we see them up until the day of and then never see them after that. It’s really nice to see the full circle of day one to their wedding day.”
For those who are looking to start up or expand on their own business, Jody advises them to be patient.
“You have to go through the steps and do things the right way. It’s not an overnight thing. You have a lot of paperwork to do, but in the end it’s worth it. Just be persistent and patient.”
This is what Jody claims to be the key to her success with her business. Today, Bridal N’ More continues to thrive in the bridal industry throughout the Bismarck area and also has many brides who travel from Montana, Canada and South Dakota because they have heard about the store. They’re continuing to look for more ways to capitalize on different opportunities and to create a unique and memorable customer experience with brides, families, friends, students, and children. “I just like to make people look and feel good on the most important day of their lives. That’s the best part of my job."