Fall lights and flowers glowing in a grandfather’s old toolbox. Silk flowers spilling from a water pitcher.
Melissa Stover enjoys repurposing antiques or any medium to create something new and unique. It’s sort of like her shop, Queen Bee Collectibles. It’s housed in an old church in Beech Creek, but its interior is repurposed as a gift shop that features unique gifts, handmade items, and a few antique gems.
It only took one class to ignite Stover’s love of painting about 15 years ago. Ever since, she’ll add a splash of painted color to anything that catches her curiosity – a piece of wood, canvas, old ironing boards. She’ll even redo small furniture.
Since owning the business last year, she’s intertwined a few of her own art pieces at the shop, creating a shabby-chic and vintage atmosphere.
Right now, Stover’s featuring primitive Easter items. She painted Easter bunnies on pallet wood and used a pink silk flower for the tail.
She’s wanted to own a store for years. “I started to create pieces in my house, and then it started to leak into my hallway,” Stover said of the growing demand for her products.
Even so, it took her over a year to work up the courage to pursue ownership of Queen Bee Collectibles from her friend and former owner, Melanie Rupert, at 146 Main St.
But when she took the first step, Tom Keiffer, business consultant at the Lock Haven University Small Business Development Center, worked with her to make it a reality.
Together, they prepared a business plan and met with Jersey Shore State Bank, which offered 80 percent of the financing at $63,000. However, Stover still needed the last 20 percent to complete the financing for the building, equipment, and existing inventory.
Keiffer directed her to the Clinton County Enterprise Zone Program that paired with the bank loan to complete the funding package.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this,” Stover said, who is grateful the $24,000 loan came through quickly and just in time. “And now, I have a shop!”
Stover worked with Ray Haden of SEDA-Council of Governments’ Business Finance Department, who acted as the loan officer for the enterprise zone loan. Haden worked with her on every step of the loan, answering questions, and making the process simple and clear for Stover.
The loan’s benefits are attractive:
· Low application fee: 1 percent of the loan that a borrower is pursuing
· Low interest rate: 3 percent for the life of the loan
· No prepayment penalty
· 10 percent equity requirement (some restrictions may apply)
· Eligible to all existing businesses and industries in the Enterprise Zone Area
The grand opening was Oct. 1, 2016, and Stover said things are going well. She’s provided opportunities for other entrepreneurs by renting out some of the space to local artisans. Stover also sells her own art and handiwork, such as paintings and floral arrangements.
The store is open in January and February, which is different from the prior ownership’s hours. Stover hopes more locals will discover the shop since she has many customers who find it when passing through town.
Things still feel surreal. “It’s like after you have a baby, it’s like, oh my gosh, I’m a mom!” Stover exclaimed, saying she still can’t believe she’s a store owner.
She hopes to grow with the trends and meet new people in the trade, and is in the process of acquiring wholesalers.
Even though things are still new and some nerves remain, she is thankful she took that first step of faith toward business ownership – and met Keiffer and Haden along the way to help make it a reality.