Since the incubator opened in September 2020, it’s had businesses move into brick and mortar locations.
SPARTA, Mich. — For entrepreneurs hoping to launch their own business and bridge the gap between start-up costs and a storefront, there’s a program that can help.
Communities all over the country have started business incubators — and there’s one right here in Sparta that’s already had some success.
Dottie’s Dog Bowl makes handmade specialty pet treats for cats and dogs.
The treats are healthy and all-natural with only six to eight ingredients.
“We said let’s jump on this because it’s an opportunity we might not get again. Because we were ready for a store, just not financially ready for a store,” said Dottie’s Dog Bowl owner Julie Trombley.
The business was inspired by the family dog, a pit mix named Dottie.
You can find the shop in a 150 square foot shipping container in the Sparta town square.
The shipping containers are part of Sparta’s Business Incubator Program, a platform for entrepreneurs growing their small businesses.
“We’re kind of the in-between space,” said Elizabeth Morse with the Sparta Chamber of Commerce. “We expect our businesses to have a business model, to have a marketing plan and really take a business from a starting point to a place where they can really test the market.”
Since the incubator opened in September 2020, it’s had some success stories.
Clothing boutique Lemon and Lola and home décor store the Wild Bee both moved into the incubator during its first year, and after joining forces they have graduated to a brick and mortar location just 50 feet away.
“It was part of making a big step but it was also leaving those containers, we felt very at home in them. I can’t explain it, except it was such a blessed opportunity,” said Lemon and Lola owner Errin Wodarski.
The business owners credit the incubator’s owners and the Sparta Chamber of Commerce for their support.
“It’s a family unit and the camaraderie really makes you feel like everybody’s invested in your success. As far as I’m concerned, every town should be doing something like that to help develop businesses,” said Wild Bee owner Melanie Gallagher.
As for Dottie’s Dog Bowl, Trombley loves her small space and hopes to continue operating out of it with the dream of turning it into a full-time job.
“We’re getting ready for summertime to have an ice cream bar for dogs. So we are totally ready for this whole opportunity. And just to be here a while because this community is great and very supportive too,” Trombley said.
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