Small is good when it comes to boutiques, Think hands-on customer service, a unique and ever-changing selection of stylish merchandise, great ambience, and fewer crowds. These are many of the reasons why Allison Orr, owner and manager of Dragonfly Apparel located in the historic Highlands district of northwest Denver, loves her job.
Originally from Kansas with a passion for retail and related experience, Allison and her husband, Casey Orr, moved to Colorado to pursue her dream of owning a store. “I was at the point that I wanted to try to figure out if it was possible to own a business,” says Allison. “Denver was a great place to look for this opportunity. Things just fell in to place with Dragonfly.”
Employed at Dragonfly Apparel as its manager since 2011, Allison, along with Casey, started talking with the store’s owners in 2012 about buying the business. Her bosses had relocated to California and were looking for someone to take it over. Allison knew the store’s main street location, loyal customer base, and surrounding historic neighborhood boded well for future growth.
Colorado Enterprise Fund Involvement
The challenge was securing financing for their business purchase. “We didn’t have enough equity and were frustrated in terms of funding,” Casey remarked. ”We were looking for a mid-sized loan and were pushed around from loan officer to loan officer.”
Eventually Allison and Casey contacted Biz2Credit, an online loan service, which referred them to Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) where they qualified for an SBA Community Advantage loan in 2015. “The process was streamlined and we were really happy with the experience,” remembers Casey. “We found a great community of support and a team to help us make the right decisions to grow and succeed.”
With their CEF loan in hand, Allison and Casey set forth to grow their business. “We increased [staff] hours and hired another person for the weekends when we’re busier,” Allison confirmed. "We also expanded our product lines and gift inventory to finish the year with the best holiday shopping season ever!” Allison also got more time to explore in-home services like closet consultations, personal shopping and deliveries, plus event planning wardrobes. Since taking over the store, she’s met other local businesses interested in collaborating on “eco-fashion” events using pop ups to engage customers, as well as creating custom scents and souvenirs for her store and customers.
With all these possibilities, Allison’s passion remains with creating and preserving the ultimate hands-on, in-store experience. “We are hoping to offer a unique customer service experience that puts the personal touch back into an increasingly impersonal industry," Allison stated. “We see a lot of growth potential in continuing to establish Dragonfly as an anchor business in Highlands Square.”