Saving "Soles" in Shreveport, Louisiana

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Ivory Daniels knows shoes´┐Żand the people whose feet are in them. Working along side his father as a young man in the shoe repair business, he learned some valuable lessons. "My dad taught me the business, but more than that, he taught me how to treat people. Customer service is so important."

[Photo 1: Ivory smiles as he shakes hand with Caddo Parish]
Ivory smiles as a Caddo Parish deputy sheriff came in with an armload of boots, greeting the hardworking entrepreneur like an old friend.

Ron Schorr, another Shreveport businessman and loyal Ivory customer, agrees. "Ivory gets to know his customers and meets their needs. The customer comes first. No job is ever too small. He's just got a great attitude."

But the business side of his occupation wasn't always so good for Ivory, whose shop was once located on the outskirts of town in a once-thriving area now plagued by abandoned buildings and little foot traffic.

Ivory decided to relocate when a storefront became available in the thriving central business district. Dee's Shoe Repair is now located in a great spot for walk-in traffic and an asset for customers working downtown. It's half block from the courthouse, the chamber of commerce, several downtown banks and office buildings and next door to one of the district's most popular lunch spots.

[Photo 2: Front view of Dee's Shoe Repair shop]
Ivory Daniels used HUD CDBG funds to relocate and expand his business.

After relocating, Ivory decided to advertise his new location to potential customers, increase his inventory and offer a pickup and delivery service.

To fund those activities, Ivory secured a small business loan from the city's department of community development. Using HUD Community Development Block Grant funds, the staff there helped him develop business and marketing plans, and approved a low-interest CDBG loan to help him pay for advertising, new inventory and a delivery vehicle.

Ivory soon launched an aggressive advertising campaign that included regular ads in a local newspaper, a direct mail campaign targeting downtown businesses and ads in the local Bar Association journal and a local shopper. "People started coming in and saying, 'I had no idea you were here. I work around the corner and your shop is so convenient.'"

And now, Ivory sings the praises of the city's small business development program. "The program has really helped me. With the loan money in hand, I was able to negotiate with vendors and get better prices for inventory. It was a real bargaining tool. It also helped me to purchase a van to get my pickup and delivery service started."

And now, Ivory's business is booming. His pickup and delivery service is a big hit and he attracts a handful of new customers a week from his marketing efforts. In fact, he plans to pay off his loan early and then apply for a business development loan. "I'm thinking about a second location," he says with a smile.

With hard work, knowledge of his business and service to his customers, that's no idle dream for Ivory. There's nothing like saving lots of soles, especially when you're making friends and money to boot!

Content Archived: September 09, 2009