When Dan Hohman opened Sugar Creek Country Store LLC – his bulk foods store in St. Mary’s, Kansas – it was because he had decided that not only would this type of store add something new and different to the St. Mary’s community, but it would also give the Hohman kids a chance to grow up with the experience of participation in a family business.
With 10 children and more than 30 nieces and nephews, Dan knew that if the kids were interested, he could bring them into the business and provide them with the opportunity to learn valuable skills and acquire the self-confidence that comes from work and success.
Several years earlier, on the recommendation of a friend, Dan had begun working with the Kansas SBDC at Washburn University (WU) in order to get his idea of opening a new business in St. Mary’s off the ground. In 2013 Dan and the SBDC worked to vet his business concepts and develop a feasible business that would work in a town of 2,600 people.
Dan and his advisors analyzed the various business plans before Dan settled on the general idea for a bulk foods store. Once Dan decided bulk foods was the way to go, the team worked together to dive deep into the business’ financial projections. The SBDC provided extensive market research including demographic information he could use to build a plan. Establishing a workable budget as well as developing a solid marketing plan were key to starting up a profitable business that wouldn’t overspend its resources during the start-up phase.
“With the Kansas SBDC’s assistance in putting together a business plan and a budget, and also looking at where the marketing budget could be best spent, we were able to open Sugar Creek Country Store in St. Mary’s in July of 2016,” shared Dan. “The time spent studying demographics and figuring out how to get word out about the store to folks outside of St. Mary’s so that Sugar Creek could become a destination, was an enormous help in contributing to the store’s ability to be profitable within the desired timeframe.”
“With Sugar Creek we were able to make a bigger splash in a very big pond – northeast Kansas – by using best practices in marketing including social media and word-of-mouth to our advantage,” said Dan. “Because of this, our business has outperformed sales expectations and needed to increase employment by the third month in business.” Currently, Dan employs 15 people at Sugar Creek Country Store LLC.
Dan says that his Kansas SBDC advisors were really adept at putting themselves in his shoes and understanding his perspective as a business owner. Dan appreciated the advisors’ ability to understand what it would be like to run his type of business and to see both the challenges and opportunities that he would face.
Referring other business owners to the Kansas SBDC is a “no-brainer”, according to Dan. Whenever he talks with anyone interested in getting into business, Dan recommends that he or she contact the Kansas SBDC.
More about Sugar Creek Country Store
SBDC advisory team
Les Streit, WU
Laurie Pieper, WU
Karl Klein, WU
Bob Washatka, WU