Steady growth and expansion have combined to make Carey's Furniture in downtown Cherokee the 2005 Iowa Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year, as awarded by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA).
The SBA announced this week that Carol Carey of Carey's Furniture was selected as the state's Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year. Carey was nominated for the award by Leon Klotz, vice president of Cherokee State Bank.
Carey's Furniture is a three-level retail furniture, bedding and floor-covering business located at 107 East Main Street in the heart of Cherokee's Cultural and Entertainment District.
The business started out by selling used furniture and has evolved into the present day business of displaying and selling a wide array of new retail furniture, bedding, carpeting and floor covering. Carey's Furniture employs four people.
Carol Carey, along with her husband, David, first opened the business in 1981. At that time they were only selling used furniture, and the small store was operated on a part-time basis with both of them taking turns operating the business on scheduled hours.
Due to health problems, David retired from the business in 1993, and Carol has since managed the entire operation herself, while raising her young family.
In 1999, Carol and her son, Chad, who had recently joined the business, decided they wanted to expand and renovate the store, which they were able to do with the help of an SBA guaranteed loan, as well as technical assistance from the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Carey's Furniture has doubled its sales over the past three years, exceeding original sales projections. The Careys have participated in several SBDC training courses to help them move their business to the next level. They also have worked with a local attorney and a CPA on a succession plan for their business.
"This was a total surprise," said Carol Carey upon receiving news of the SBA honor. "We didn't expect it. We are honored to know that all our hard work has been acknowledged and look forward to a promising future."
Carol is the first to admit that she couldn't have accomplished anything close to such a success story without the help of son, Chad, who joined and helped revitalize the business six years ago. Together they have worked long hours, planned and achieved the increased sales that have driven the store to its current expansion and success.
Today, the beautifully renovated Carey's Furniture creates a pleasurable shopping atmosphere in downtown Cherokee, and the Carey family continues to work together to improve the value of their business, while providing goods and services to the community of Cherokee and well beyond.
Carol was selected for the SBA award based on the following criteria: Staying power, growth in number of employees, increased sales, innovativeness, response to adversity, and contributions to the community.
"Without Chad's expertise and hard work, this wouldn't have happened," added the proud mother. We talk all the time and bounce ideas off each other. Then we sit down and talk it through.
"I'm more conservative and sometimes we don't always agree, but we always work it out. Chad will get an idea and we usually run with it and, so far, they've always worked out. We love Cherokee and expect to continue to grow and prosper here."