by: Colleen Perry
Growing up in Hot Springs Village, Heather Rincon knew from an early age that she wanted to own a lady’s clothing store. Some days she imagined a full scale bridal shop. On others it was a trendy boutique. She didn’t know when, where or how that dream would come true. Her store was simply a young girl’s dream.
She grew up, went to college and did all those things young people are supposed (translation: expected) to do. With a teaching certificate in hand, she landed a job as a teacher at Darby Junior High where she met and eventually married Brian Rincon. That’s when life began to take a new direction for the both of them.
Sometimes, life unfolds differently than you expected. It goes smoothly and then there’s a temporary rough patch. During those times we learn and grow. And then one day the path is once again smooth. It was during one of those rough patches that opportunity knocked on their door.
They were at a proverbial fork in the road and realized Heather’s dream was a now-or-never decision. With little money in the bank, but good credit, they began exploring options to open their own business. Heather recalls, “We researched a lot of things. Other ideas either didn’t have the appeal or lacked other elements we were seeking. Finally, we settled on opening the clothing store of my dreams.”
She tells of the search for the perfect location. Wanting to be downtown on Garrison they became disappointed when nothing was available. When they finally settled on a Rogers Avenue site, they were told the space had been leased the day before…sending them back out searching. Soon after they took another drive down Garrison and spotted a “For Rent” sign in a quaint storefront window–the perfect home for Crane Clothing Co. at 505 Garrison Avenue!
The challenge of finding the perfect location was secondary to that of finding the money needed for a dream come true. Brian recalls talking to banker after banker in search of the right loan for the right price.
“It wasn’t enough that we had perfect credit. We had no business experience. It took walking through a few bank doors before finding a lender who believed in us and our ability to be good business people. One of my proudest accomplishments has been that we paid off our six year business loan in two years.”
This is a common problem faced by those with a vision for a new business venture. They see the possibilities, know their own abilities, but have to sell an investor (most often a bank) on their dream. Loans for new business ventures are more often than not difficult to find – unless there is plenty of collateral to back up the financial investment.
For Heather and Brian, the money came, the building was renovated and there was that first trip to market. They remember how much fun it was to pick and choose merchandise that would fill the racks and display in every nook and cranny.
Heather recalls their first market experience, “We had a great time at that first market. It was something we had never done before and had no idea what to expect. We made some great choices! And some that were not so good. There was a learning curve as to styles and price point for the Fort Smith shopper. Like everything else we had done, market was another learning experience.”
Today, they’ve mastered the marketing dilemma. Heather still teaches at Darby and Brian is on site in the back room managing the merchandise. “There are three things you can be sure of,” says Brian. “You can’t out work, out think, or out price me. I love the work, am constantly thinking of what’s next, and love to negotiate price–whether it’s merchandise or marketing.”
Funny. When Heather talks about Brian she says, “ You can’t out work , out think or out price him!” These two know each other’s strengths and respect the expertise each brings to the business. And they respect thoughts and suggestions from the young ladies who work the store and interact with customers.
“The girls up front are vital to our success,” says Brian. “They give us input from customers as well as some of their own preferences when we place merchandise orders. We always listen and try to make the best decisions for serving our customers and keeping our business healthy.”
Crane Clothing Co. is a dream come true for the Rincons. For Heather, the store is her girlish dream come true. For Brian, Crane Clothing has given him the most wonderful life that he could have ever imagined. Both owners love the business, the challenges that present and the customers who walk through the door. And the young ladies who work the store are family.
If you’re a fashionista, check out Crane’s at 505 Garrison Avenue–and let them make your fashion dreams come true. Shop online at craneclothingco.com or call 479 629-5712.