2015-09-17 / Business

Creek’s Convenience Store celebrates grand re-opening this weekend

CLAYTON TOWNSHIP — The public is invited to a grand re-opening at Creek’s Convenience Store located at the corner of Seymour and Miller roads.

The celebration, which takes place Friday through Sunday, will feature food and beverage specials.

Creek’s Convenience Store is being lauded as a hometown success story. Owners Joe and Shannon Orriss are familiar faces in the Swartz Creek community as operators of a 7-Eleven at this location.

When 7-Eleven announced they would close the store, the Orrisses were given the option to buy their store.

“We made this store what it is, and the majority of customers come here because it’s us, not because it’s a 7-Eleven,” Joe Orriss said.

“We’ve put so much of ourselves into this place, we couldn’t just walk away. And there are five others who would be out of a job if we did.”

Thus began a life-changing journey preparing for and becoming business owners.

While keeping the store open and working 12-hour days, Joe and Shannon had to figure out what it would take to buy the store.

Joe Orriss contacted the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) regional office in Flint in July 2014 for assistance in putting together a business plan, preparing for and getting financing.

It took three months of hard work using tools, information, and counseling provided by SBDC, but Orriss completed his plan and started looking for financing.

Even with an excellent business plan, it takes time and effort to find a lender with the right fit and willing to take on a specific loan deal.

First lending stop was the bank with which Joe had business banking history. In spite of good projections and history of profitable operations, the answer was no. The lenders said there was not enough collateral value given the age and condition of the existing equipment. A credit union gave the same answer.

Marsha Lyttle, director of the I-69 Trade Corridor Region’s MI-SBDC office, recommended applying with a Community Development Financial Institution that was an SBA lender, hoping their community impact focus would make this deal attractive.

Orriss got an immediate appointment and it looked like the lending deal was on. But the CDFI decided in January 2015 they could only approve half the amount requested.

Orriss was discouraged and ready to call it off but the SBDC wasn’t and suggested contacting Huntington Bank, one of the strongest SBA lenders in the U.S.

After a review of Joe’s plan, a regional vice president for Huntington contacted SBDC to say, “Thank you for reaching out to me. This is the exact situation that SBA is designed for.” Within two weeks, Huntington approved Orriss for an SBA loan for the full amount. The deal was done and the hard work of re-opening the store proceeded.

It took a little more than a year from the day Joe Orriss contacted the SBDC in Flint and his comment on the SBDC assistance received: “I really appreciate all you’ve done for us,” Joe Orriss told the SBDC. “We would not have been able to stay open and seven people would have been out of work without your help and encouragement. I’d have given up and wouldn’t have made it through this without MI-SBDC.” — L.R.

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