A Steady Stream of Trekkers Remembering Route 66
Linda Riley owns the Rusty Bolt in Seligman, Arizona which offers memorabilia, leather goods and souvenirs to seasonal, nostalgic tourists who remember the iconic status of Route 66. For nearly 50 years, Route 66 covered 2,400 miles as the only automotive thoroughfare from Chicago to Los Angeles.
When Linda's late husband Bill purchased the Rusty Bolt as an antique store in 1997, he kept the historic vibe with hand-painted and original signs from bygone days. He also added the unique whimsical touch of mannequins dressed in eye-catching costumes to the top of the front porch awnings in order to one-up his competition.
Making enough money in the few short months of a seasonal business to last an entire year takes a special fortitude and creative financing. Meeting her mortgage payments was making it difficult for Linda to maintain and restock the store so she sought help. The U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA's) loan programs offered her better interest rates and longer terms than conventional loans, resulting in lower monthly payments.
Linda found information on SBA loans online and pursued as an alternative to existing onerous commercial loan. She refinanced in 2018 with a $140,000 SBA guaranteed loan that cut her payments in half.
Linda has been able to invest in renovations and maintenance while stocking products that appeal to patrons visiting from as far away as Australia, France, Amsterdam, and China. Such customers often leave signature items of their own which add an international experience for other visitors as they are added to the store’s decorations.
The reduced payments under the new loan have helped Linda better survive the off season and prep for coming years. Meanwhile, the business remains a family affair as her son, daughter, and grandchildren continue to pitch in.
As a special touch, Linda creates a custom Route 66 souvenir driver’s license for everyone who visits the store.