Quilter Norma Riley has practised her craft for more than three decades.
Selling the odd homemade quilt or blanket to her friends and neighbours, Riley never officially marketed her products in the small business world.
That all changed this past week when Riley, owner of Home Decor Sewing, was one of 26 local entrepreneurs selected to sell their wares at Parkland Mall’s inaugural Mall Street Market.
The four-day indoor market gave local Central Alberta small business owners the stage to connect with shoppers and sell their stock at kiosks throughout the mall.
Krista Dunstan, Parkland Mall’s marketing director, said the market concept was an opportunity to encourage local entrepreneurship and to shop local. The businesses were given free space for the four days (Thursday to Sunday). One lucky vendor will be named Mall Street Mogul and will receive two months free rent in a prime kiosk spot in the mall.
“It’s very scary to put yourself out there,” said Riley, 62. “ But (starting a business is) no tougher than anything else because this is a city of word of mouth … You take pride in what you do and the rest takes care of itself.”
Glenda Hodge, owner of Creative Coverups, said starting a business is no doubt challenging because the finances have to be in place to make it work. Hodge has a full-time job and works on her homemade chemotherapy bandanas business in the evenings.
“Eventually I would like to transition over to this being my full-time business,” said Hodge, who started her business about a year ago when her older sister was diagnosed with cancer. “So it’s been a little here, a little here on my paycheque trying to make sure I can proceed on.”
Jennifer Clark, owner of Kaylee Baylees Hair Prettys, said support from family and friends is key for success in the business world when starting out. Clark has been the business of hair barrettes and hair accessories for about three years. Clark said Red Deer is a great city for launching a business because the community likes to support locally made products.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business released its annual Communities in Boom: Canada’s Top Entrepreneurial Cities report last week. Red Deer was sixth in a ranking of 103 cities with populations greater than 25,000. In 2010, Red Deer was ranked seventh and in 2009, the Central Alberta city was 32nd on the list.