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Small Business Owner Seeks Start-up Guidance from SCORE, Opens for Business

Amy and Darrell Hauge are celebrating their first anniversary as owners of Amy’s Classic Confections, a retail store specializing in unique candy baskets custom made for special occasions. Located in the Minneapolis skyway at 6th and Marquette, the business offers a variety of items that will be the delight of any candy lover, and make great gifts for employees, co-workers, teachers, birthdays or to say congratulations or thank you.

Browsing the store is a trip to temptation. Tastefully displayed is a broad assortment of ready-to-go gift baskets with themes such as Chocolate Lover, Midday Munchies, Off to School Survival Kit, Minnesota Madness, and Tower of Treats. Or, Amy will help you custom design your own theme for that special someone or special occasion. There are baskets for the coffee lover and for those on sugar-free diets. Local delivery is offered, which can be a lifesaver for anyone needing a last-minute gift that will be appreciated. Nationwide shipping is also available.

No stranger to entrepreneurship, Amy and her brothers had operated retail candy and florists shops back in her native Ohio. She came to Minnesota when she married Darrell. The couple started Amy’s Classic Confections as a home-based business and sold their gift baskets mostly through craft shows, home shows, and temporary kiosks at various mall locations around the Twin Cities. The business was successful, but Amy harbored the dream of having a retail store in a prime location.

A friend suggested that she contact SCORE, a volunteer business counseling group that provides confidential small business counseling at no charge. SCORE members Loren Herbst and Bill Wise were assigned the case.

Herbst spent 35 years with Norwest Bank serving as a commercial banking vice president. Wise was senior vice president for Norwest Bank in Faribault and most recently spent 11 years with First National Bank of Chaska. Both are now retired and have a wealth of business knowledge and experience based on their many years of providing financing to entrepreneurs of every stripe. The two SCORE counselors did a thorough evaluation of the Hauge’s plan and met with them to discuss the issues they would face moving from a home-based business to a retail location.

Amy said, “Loren and Bill were very straightforward with us and provided guidance on all aspects of opening a retail store from obtaining financing to lease negotiations. The information and advice we were given helped us find the right location and secure a fair and equitable lease. It also helped us obtain an SBA guaranteed loan through TCF Bank.”

The loan officer at TCF Bank told the Hauges that they had the most complete and well-written business plan he had seen in a long time. Amy said, “We could not have done that without SCORE’s help.”

SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business, is a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration and has more than 11,000 volunteer members serving in chapters nationwide. In Minnesota, there are 400 members. The Minneapolis Chapter, of which Herbst and Wise are members, is the nation’s oldest having gotten its start in 1964.

Back in the mid-1960s when the SBA folks in Washington, D.C., heard about a group of volunteer business owners and executives in Minneapolis who were working one-on-one with fledgling entrepreneurs, they thought it was such a great idea they established a national program. They also took the #1 designation for the D.C. Chapter leaving Minneapolis to go down in the records as SCORE Chapter #2.

George Saumweber, SBA’s public information officer for the Minnesota Office said, “In spite of being designated the #2 chapter, we know that SCORE got its start right here in Minneapolis. And what is really important is the thousands of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs who received sage business counseling over the years to help make their small business dreams a reality.”

Amy Hauge agrees, “We are very thankful for the all the help we received from Loren and Bill. We owe much of our success to the wisdom and experience these two gentlemen shared with us.”

Last year, SCORE members in Minnesota counseled more than 5,000 individuals and provided seminars and workshops to 3,000 attendees.

Caryl Sharp, current chair of the Minneapolis Chapter, said, “SCORE volunteers receive a great deal of satisfaction by using their business experience gained over a lifetime to help small business owners in our local community.” She encourages others with business experience and a desire to give back to the community to consider joining the ranks of SCORE.

Anyone interested in joining the group can talk with a member about his or her experience by calling the Minnesota SCORE office at (612) 370-2309.