Children’s shoe store owners find hidden gem in local resource
Little Feet Shoes of Pasco County
On an average summer day, Yonique Hacker was driving down Highway 56 when she was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – to become a small business owner. Hacker and her sister Monique weren’t even sure where to begin, but they knew they were ready to take on the challenge.
Yonique and her sister bought Little Feet Shoes, located in Wesley Chapel, in July 2021, where they sell various types of children’s shoes for all ages. Although these sisters were ready to make an impact in their community amongst children and their parents, and were well-versed in the industry, they needed some additional assistance on the business side of things. That’s when Yonique reached out to the Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida.
“We reached out to the Florida SBDC at USF, specifically to consultant Bill Burnham, because this was brand new to us, and we had no business background except for online selling and our full-time jobs,” she said. Lucky for them, Burnham knows the industry well, as he worked in his own family’s shoe store as a youngster.
“Bill evaluated our business for us. At that point we had no idea what a business evaluation was, or the math behind it. Bill explained all of the steps to us and we did weekly meetings where Bill brought everything to a level that we could understand. He was the perfect guy to help us. He was honest with our evaluation, and anything we didn’t know we needed he was able to explain what the next steps were. He gave us different avenues within the Florida SBDC at USF to take for after his process was finished, and he also kept in contact by reaching out to us.”
Because the sisters purchased the business during the COVID-19 pandemic, the businesses’ profits declined as a result. “During the pandemic, the business was not as profitable because everybody started shopping online. With Bill’s guidance, he showed us marketing strategies that we could use to get the profits back to what they were pre-COVID,” Yonique said.
In the future, the sisters plan to continue to utilize the no-cost consulting services at the Florida SBDC at USF and are beyond grateful for Burnham’s guidance thus far.
“Bill has been there for us and I can’t even tell you how grateful we are. For years and years to come, we will still reach out to Bill for advice. Without him, and without the Florida SBDC at USF, we wouldn’t be here,” Yonique said. “I can honestly tell you that we are so glad we were able to reach out to him.”