Business contest winner proposes roving art store
Elizabeth Coyne had long thought that someone should start an art supply store in Winston-Salem that offers merchandise beyond the limited selection found at chain stores.
Then, Coyne learned that the City of Winston-Salem was holding a start-up business competition that would award the winner a $5,000 grant and a matching $5,000 loan to a start-up micro-business (one with five employees or fewer).
“That’s when it changed from ‘somebody should, to I could,’” said Coyne, a Lenior native who moved to the Twin City from Connecticut two years ago.
For the contest, she came up with a business plan to pitch a mobile art supply store. Hers was among the 45 executive summaries submitted. Of those, 18 were invited to submit complete business plans; fourteen of them followed through.
Coyne’s plan was chosen as the best by the City’s Small Business Loan Committee, whose five members chose those who would receive loans from the city. The Small Business Loan Program has helped 200 small businesses since 1984.
Loan Committee Chair Andrew Dreyfus said Coyne’s plan was superior in its operational, marketing and financial planning.
“… We consider ourselves the city of arts and innovation and this was an interesting combination of innovation and arts all wrapped up in a unique format,” he stated in a press release.
Coyne’s new venture is called S2dio Supplies. S2dio (studio) is also the name of the freelance design, copy-writing and marketing outfit that she runs. She plans to buy a used small school bus and transform it into an art store on wheels that can be parked to sell supplies at local colleges and community events.
She said she will offer many finer art supplies that are not found locally, supplies she says many local artists now turn to the Internet to purchase.
Coyne fully credits the city for providing the impetus to start the venture.
“I was totally inspired by and felt supported by the City, and that’s what’s making this happen,” said Coyne, a mother of two, whose husband teaches set design at UNC School of the Arts.
Until she can buy a bus, Coyne is selling art supplies to mainly art students at pop-up stores. She has plenty of inventory, having invested thousands of dollars in supplies to sell. Starting Friday, she’ll be setting up a temporary store at UNCSA. Next month, she’ll set up in a space at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts. She said she hopes to work with local art instructors to supply exactly what students need. Supplies are also available through her web site. She personally delivers orders.
Ruben Gonzales is the project supervisor for the City’s Business Development Programs, which sponsored the competition. He considers the competition a great success. Aside from Coyne’s winning idea, the competition inspired dozens of local entrepreneurs to create business plans and educate themselves about the City resources available to small businesses.
“We want to help all small businesses get situated and get open,” said Gonzales. “Small businesses create job opportunities and increase economic opportunity in our community.”
Coyne said the competition opened her eyes to the City’s many programs and resources for entrepreneurs. In addition to her winnings, she’s applied to the City’s Small Business Loan Program.
“What the City did more than anything with that competition is invite me to take a look at what it would take to start up a small business,” said Coyne. “That incentive, it was a true incentive, worked for me; it’s what I needed. It made the hurdles seem less like an obstacle.”
For more information about S2dio Supplies, visit www.s2diosupplies.com.