When Kirsten Gjesdal opened Carrot Seed Kitchen, located in Brookings, SD, in 2015, the young entrepreneur rented her space in the area’s downtown.
“It was hard because we didn’t have a back entrance so the delivery guys were out on the street blocking traffic when we would get deliveries and parking wasn’t convenient for our customers,” she said.
She also explained that renting her own place didn’t allow her to have as much inventory. While she was renting an off-site space for inventory in addition to what she had available in her store, she still wasn’t able to have as much room for inventory as she wanted since the space was limited. This, she said, caused her to run out of cookie sheets last year during the holiday time.
Nonetheless, the business thrived in the South Dakota town and after two years, Gjesdal stumbled on a piece of good luck – the building next to hers, which was almost identical, was up for sale.
“We talked about it and went to the bank and everything turned out well, so we decided to purchase the building,” she said.
Taking advantage of some small business loans that South Dakota allows, Gjesdal said that owning her own building ended up costing her $50 more per month than renting her one-floor space from someone else.
“Now, we have a back entrance for our deliveries, more space to keep inventory in and there is a nice big lot in the back for our customers,” she said.
In addition, she has rented out the basement to another small business – a clothing retailer – who brings her own clientele into the store, which has boosted her foot traffic.
However, owning her own building hasn’t been without challenges. Gjesdal said that the building had never been updated since it was built more than a century ago and a lot of systems needed a complete overhaul and things were a lot more expensive than she had anticipated. But, the renovations gave her an opportunity to maximize the space she would need to help grow the business for the future.
“For example, there was a spot where we were going to just put shelving in. Then we decided to open up one wall. Then we just decided to take all the walls down and completely re-do it. You have to think big – the sky is really the limit and you want to do it right the first time,” she said.