The following 'success story' was submitted to OrilliaMatters by the Orillia Area Community Development Corporation.
Whether your bike is your main form of transportation or you ride it recreationally, Paul Belanger and Thomas Hulton, the new co-owners of The Bike Stop of Orillia, want to help you get the most out of your cycling experience.
“The Orillia Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) was instrumental in introducing this opportunity and helping to bring it to fruition,” Belanger said. “I think we're a great combination of age, experience and youth, and the CDC made it all possible.”
Last year, he was on the hunt to buy a business but was unsure of what he was looking for.
That changed when Belanger’s path crossed with the CDC when he approached it to access its Business Transition Matching Program.
During the intake interview, Carol Benedetti, community economic development co-ordinator, had a detailed conversation with him about his objectives and goals, which included investing in a cycling- or health-and-wellness-related business.
Knowing Belanger’s interests, Benedetti researched opportunities in the area to find a suitable match, resulting in the sale of The Bike Stop at 84 Colborne St. W. in downtown Orillia.
“Without the personal touch, nobody would have pointed me in this direction,” explained Belanger.
Through the previous owner, Belanger was introduced to Hulton, who had worked at the shop for a number of years while working on his business degree and was also looking to get into the bike business.
Hulton and Belanger had passion and a plan, and as they interacted with the CDC, they learned more and more.
“They were great help for us in developing a business plan,” added Hulton. “It was a good exercise for us.”
The new plan they came up with was more robust and included a number of important considerations such as a marketing plan, key success factors, and target market analysis to name a few.
“But the main thing was the CDC’s offer of financing. They provided a third of it, allowing us access to the opportunity, decreasing our own financial burden,” Belanger said.
He said the support continued with a deferral of loan payments during the early part of the pandemic.
Further, Belanger and Hulton have also taken advantage of the accounting and Google AdWords marketing seminars offered through the CDC and look forward to future learning and networking opportunities.
For more information on The Bike Stop of Orillia, visit https://bikestoporillia.wordpress.com or call 705-325-2453.