PIPESTONE, Minn. — It took some time to stitch together the details, but Lori Williams finally opened the doors to Calico Cat Quilt Shop last month. The long-time quilter started the business with help from Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Microenterprise Loan Program after more than a year of planning.
The shop carries a wide variety of quality fabrics, quilting and sewing supplies, Kangaroo cabinets, fat quarters, flat folds, batting, thread, scrap bags and more. Its name is a nod to a former pet cat who liked to lounge nearby while Williams was quilting. She took up the art about 25 years ago to fill long winter months after she moved to Minnesota from Nebraska.
Currently, the Calico Cat Quilt Shop is open Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Williams hopes to eventually expand those hours. She currently also works a full-time doing data input and analysis for sow farms. Despite limited hours, business at the store has been good so far.
“So many people stopped in to see us on our first day in September; they helped make it a fun and memorable day! I’m looking forward to many, many more days like this at the shop for years to come,” Williams said.
Loan funds from SWIF helped Williams purchase equipment and inventory. Loan programs have been a key function of SWIF since its inception to support communities and businesses throughout southwest Minnesota. In 2001, microlending was added to existing programs as a tool to support small businesses and people looking for self-employment opportunities.
“Lori knows her craft well, and now with her business she gets to share that passion with the community. We’re thrilled to help her set up shop and grow as a business owner,” said SWIF Economic Development Officer Jackie Turner.
Microloan clients receive free technical assistance from SWIF staff to improve their business management skills. Areas of support include business planning and financials analysis, QuickBooks training, marketing assistance and other training opportunities for the life of the loan.
This microloan program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact SWIF at 800-594-9480, 320-587-4848 or [email protected].
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) is a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has distributed more than $88 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs.