Success stories

Success Stories

Community Futures is pleased to showcase some of the many good news stories in rural Alberta. Everyday we help people like you start and grow successful small businesses.

Pandora's Boox & Tea

Jason Moody and Lesley Winfield
Olds, AB


Pandora’s Boox & Tea is a literary oasis in Central Alberta. Entrepreneurs Jason Moody and Lesley Winfield realized their dream when they opened the store in October 2013. The quaint book store and tea shop serves hot and cold beverages and sells loose tea, tea ware, used books, games and other exciting products to help bring people together. With over 100 varieties of tea to choose from, customers are sure to find a tea that’s perfect for them.

Lesley and Jason have been avid book lovers for years. Lesley has also been the head librarian in Olds for over twelve years, and has been writing for even longer. Opening a book store/tea shop was a dream that both owners thought they would have to wait until retirement to realize, but when the perfect space, a beautiful historical building in Uptowne Olds, came available, they jumped at the opportunity to make their dream a reality.

The name of the business is inspired by the tale of Pandora’s Box. Also, every time we open a book, we open up a new realm of possibilities, the two ideas were merged and Pandora’s Boox & Tea was born. Since opening, the store has been home to several tea blending workshops and book clubs, including a weekly get together of the Divine Goddess Circle. There is also a weekly board game night, and the store has already grown to become a home to Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons leagues by Wizards of the Coast, as well as an official Games Workshop location. With meager beginnings, the games night has grown to take up every seat in the house on most Friday nights.

One of the most exciting new accomplishments was becoming one of the top 35 book stores across Canada to visit according to BuzzFeed (http://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahaspler/canadian-bookstores-to-visit-before-you-die). Jason and Lesley are honoured to be listed alongside some of the great bookstores that inspired their dreams to begin with including Munro’s Books and Russell Books in Victoria BC. Because of this exposure, they’ve even been host to international bestselling authors from across the world.

Because of Lesley’s passion for writing, Pandora’s Boox celebrates local talent. The only new books in the store are written by Alberta authors from across the province. They have hosted author talks, book launches, and events for traditionally published and self-published authors. The business continues to grow with each week, and both Jason and Lesley are happy to be a part of a supportive community that has embraced them and their cozy little shop. The words of C S Lewis sum things up nicely, “You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

The Bra Lounge

Cortney Murphy and Sheena Johnson
Red Deer, AB


Sisters, Cortney Murphy and Sheena Johnson, decided to open their business over six years ago in downtown Red Deer.  The Bra Lounge's concept is simple - make sure every woman feels comfortable and sexy in the lingerie they wear.  The responses has been overwhelming.  Due to a great social media presence, a new easy to navigate website, many networking opportunities and creative marketing campaigns business is thriving. 

Community Futures Central Alberta (CFCA) has worked with Cortney and Sheena from the beginning to help start and expand their business to the clients of Red Deer and Central Alberta.

For more information visit www.thebralounge.com

(Photo courtesy of The Red Deer Advocate)

The Grow Zone

Sharon and Dennies Vierboom
Red Deer, AB


 

The Grow Zone isn’t your typical retail business. With a focus on various types of hydroponics, this innovative company exists to help consumers transition into a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle by enabling them to grow their own vegetables and herbs indoors. Put simply, hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil. More specifically, with hydroponics, plants are grown with their roots suspended in water containing all of the necessary nutrients.

The Grow Zone was started in August of 2013 by Sharon Vierboom, with assistance from her husband Dennies. With a wide variety of experience in multiple industries, Sharon and Dennies are the ideal team to run this type of business. From Sharon’s background in bookkeeping and healthcare, to Dennies being a triple-ticketed journeyman with a focus on plumbing and refrigeration, the couple has their bases covered and is able to handle the technical and financial matters of the business on their own.

When it comes to operating the business in terms of sales and customer service, one of The Grow Zone’s best assets is their employee Shawn.  “Customers gravitate towards Shawn and he really believes in all the products and he educates our clients on all their requests” says Sharon.  She adds that “Shawn frees up time for us to plan the next phase of the business.

While Sharon and Dennies were able to start the business on their own, when it came time to expand the business in the fall of 2015, they decided to reach out to Community Futures Central Alberta in search of the funding that they needed to increase their marketing efforts and website capabilities, as well as relocate to a larger location across the street. They had their hearts set on this larger location as it would provide space for more displays and a classroom to help educate consumers on how plants grow. The thought was that the displays and education classes would help to smooth out the sales process and show customers how their products work to grow plants. Sharon and Dennies also wanted The Grow Zone to become more of an online presence and open themselves up to the world of e-commerce, where they would be able to reach a broader group of people through selling on their website.

“Without Community Futures, The Grow Zone would not be where it’s at today”, says Sharon. “The funding we received through their organization was instrumental in expanding our business and preparing for future growth.”  If you are looking for help with starting up a business, or are looking to expand or purchase an existing business, contact Community Futures at 403-342-2055 to see what they can do for you.

For all of your growing needs, visit The Grow Zone in person at #7 6850-52 Avenue in Red Deer, online at http://thegrowzone.ca/ or give them a call at (403)356-9663 or toll free at 866-401-9663.

 

Homestead Firewood

Gerald Miller & Doris Austin
Innisfail, AB.


Ahhh that sound of a roaring fire keeping your fingers and toes warm on a crisp evening.  But where does that firewood bundle you burn come from?  It comes from local businesses like Homestead Firewood. 

In January 2013, Gerald Miller and Doris Austin, approached Community Futures Central Alberta with a plan to buy this Central Alberta based business.  It seemed like a perfect fit for Miller whose father was an avid outdoorsman and got his kids involved in the wilderness.  Miller states “It’s how I made extra money when I was younger and it’s a dream of mine to own my own firewood business.”

A short while later, with financing from Community Futures in place, Gerald & Doris took over Homestead Firewood and relocated it to their acreage near Innisfail.  Currently they supply gas stations and campgrounds with bundles of wood for campfires.  They also sell wood by the cord to home owners in Central Alberta.  Miller says, “We have four kinds of wood for sale; pine, birch, tamarack and spruce.  Some clients prefer one kind over the other.”

Currently the duo delivers to Sylvan Lake, Rocky Mountain House, Lacombe, Blackfalds, Delburne and Innisfail.  They hope to expand into the Olds, Trochu, Three Hills, Stettler and Ponoka areas.  If you are interested in contacting them, call them at (403) 304-6472.

Thorium Crane Ltd.

Phillip Thomson
Penhold


Thorium Crane Ltd. provides on-call crane and hoisting services to residential, commercial, industrial, and petroleum based companies. Owner Phillip Thomson launched the company in October 2007 and has been operating in Central Alberta ever since.

Prior to 2015, Thorium Crane was heavily invested in supplying services to the energy sector. With the downturn in the local economy starting in 2015, the company was met with some challenges and had to diversify their client base in order to continue to thrive in the midst of changing economic conditions. In order to diversify and obtain new clients in different industries, and with the help of Community Futures Central Alberta, they were able to upgrade their equipment, strengthen relations with some of their key clients, open opportunities in new markets, and cut their monthly expenses.

Although the economic conditions in 2016 were still slow, Thorium Crane was able to make the most out of an unfavorable economic climate. Specifically, in 2016, Thorium Crane was able to:

·         Reduce their monthly expenses by 40%

·         Enter and serve the green energy and recycling markets such as solar energy, farm reclamation, barn-board and antique salvage

·         Strengthen and add key clients within the energy sector to position themselves for success when the economy picks up

Overall, Thorium Crane has a positive outlook and with a lot of hard work, upgrading their skill set, and venturing into other aspects of business, they have a lot to look forward to in the years to come and are excited to see what the future brings for their business. Community Futures is proud of the hard work that Thorium Crane has displayed and wishes them continued success with their business. Business inquiries can be directed to Phil at 403-357-4533.

T.J.'s Lawncare

Todd and Marina Jordan
Penhold


Todd and Marina Jordan have been operating T.J.’s Lawncare since 2010. Since then, the company has constantly been expanding the services that they offer, as well as increasing the number of clients that they serve.

In early 2015, T.J.’s Lawncare was approached by the owners of another landscaping business in Innisfail to purchase their assets and assume their commercial contracts, as the owners of this business were ready to retire. It was at this point that Todd and Marina approached Community Futures Central Alberta looking for a business loan to help with the cost of purchasing the businesses assets. Community Futures was able to provide T.J.’s Lawncare with the financing they required, enabling the company to acquire these new assets and commercial contracts.

T.J.’s Lawncare offers the following services to acreages as well as residential and commercial properties:

 

Spring/Summer/Fall:

  • Lawn mowing
  • Spring start-ups
  • Weed control programs
  • Hedge and shrub trimming

Winter:

  • Snow removal 

As T.J.’s Lawncare is based out of Penhold, it allows them to conveniently service both Innisfail and Red Deer, and anywhere in between.

Contact T.J.’s Lawncare at 403.886.5880 for all of your lawn care and snow removal needs!

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Community Futures Central Alberta
5013 - 49 Avenue
Red Deer, AB T4N 3X1

403-342-2055
888-343-2055

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Communities Served

Alhambra, 
Aspen Beach, 
Bearberry, 
Bearberry, 
Benalto, 
Bergen, 
Betula, 
Bowden, 
Burnstick Lake, 
Campaign, 
Caroline, 
Carstairs, 
Cline River, 
Condor, 
Cremona, 
Crump, 
Dickson, 
Didsbury, 
Doan, 
Eckville, 
Elkton, 
Harmatton, 
Innisfail, 
James River Bridge, 
Leslieville, 
Markerville, 
Nordegg, 
Olds, 
Penhold, 
Pine Lake, 
Red Deer, 
Rocky Mountain House, 
Shawtz, 
Spruce View, 
Stauffer, 
Sundre, 
Sylvan Lake, 
Water Valley, 
Wessex, 
Westward Ho, 

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