Feb 082013
 
 reflector
Students practice Hot Yoga at the Purple Blossom Yoga located at 505 S. Evans Street. The studio was the first winner announced in Greenville's Small Business Plan Competition which awarded the business $15,000. Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.   (Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector)

Students practice Hot Yoga at the Purple Blossom Yoga located at 505 S. Evans Street. The studio was the first winner announced in Greenville’s Small Business Plan Competition which awarded the business $15,000. Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. (Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector)

By Wesley Brown

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pitt County’s first full-service yoga lounge — the Purple Blossom Studio in downtown Greenville — has been named the inaugural winner of the city’s 2013 Small Business Plan Competition and awarded a $15,000 cash grant to further grow its membership.

The Greenville Redevelopment Commission made the announcement this week, after the Purple Blossom Yoga Studio impressed the board with a business model that won high marks as a “complete,” yet “sensible” approach to broadening the consumer base downtown.

Since opening its doors on Jan. 7, Purple Blossom has already exceeded its annual projections, with more than 450 unique guests visiting the studio at the corner of East Fifth and South Evans streets for a combined 800 classes — many returning after their first free session to purchase a membership, owner and co-founder Suzanne McCartney said.

McCartney said Wednesday that she plans to meet with her staff in the next few weeks to brainstorm ways to keep the momentum rolling, possibly putting city funding towards operating expenses, hiring a full-time employee or expanded marketing efforts.

“I am really excited to be here and to participate in sharing yoga and developing a yoga community in the Greenville area,” said McCartney, whose business officially celebrated its grand opening on Saturday. “It’s been a very busy and interesting month and we are looking forward to more days of meeting lots of happy faces.”

Of the four applicants and 20 referrals made in the opening round of the Small Business Plan’s 2013 Competition, the Purple Blossom Yoga Studio was one of the first to enter for a chance to win between $15,000 and $30,000 for creating or expanding a business in the downtown or west Greenville redevelopment districts, said Niki Jones, the program’s administrator.

The program holds two giveaways per year and can award up to four grants annually, with the forgivable loans being funded by a bond referendum passed in 2004 for the West Greenville and Center City redevelopment areas. The Bakery Art Center, on West Fifth Street; Cartridge Plus Inc., on South Pitt Street; and Our Success Magazine, whose location has yet to be finalized, will be considered next month by the Redevelopment Commission, the board that manages grant funding.

Purple Blossom unanimously won the approval of the Redevelopment Commission on Wednesday, presenting a business plan that achieved an almost perfect score in revenue projections, employee income and commercial equity, the major criteria on which entries are judged.

“They really had a very complete package,” said Commissioner Judy Siguaw, one of three members elected by the board to head a subcommittee to interview finalists. “Everything looked solid. The financial projections they used were very conservative and it seems that they just continue to grow.”

Filling a need

purplearrowThe previous owner of a interior design firm in Oxford, Miss., Suzanne McCartney moved to Greenville about two years ago with her husband, Bill McCartney, the associate vice chancellor of campus living and dining services at East Carolina University.

As a newcomer to the city, McCartney said she purposely chose to give up interior design and focus solely on yoga, an art in which she is professionally trained.

“But we discovered right away that there was no way to concentrate on yoga in Greenville, which was really interesting, considering it is a city of almost 100,000 people,” Bill McCartney said. “We learned that local yoga practitioners were faced with a hodgepodge of classes offered in doctor office conference rooms, university rec centers and nearby dance studios.”

Suzanne McCartney said she taught at two area yoga locations, but found neither to be accommodating. The frustration led her to begin talking with her husband about opening a studio that offers both individual and group sessions.

Strong believers in living and working downtown, the couple secured its present business location on Nov. 18 and began immediately renovating the space with corked floors, repainted walls and upgraded bathrooms.

With the help of four independent contractors, paid to teach sessions at $18 an hour, the studio has added four classes, which has translated into extra dollars for The Scullery and Winslow’s Tavern, where morning and evening workouts have led to coffee breaks and wine rewards.

“We are bringing people downtown that normally do not come downtown,” Bill McCartney said. “From college students to community members and beyond, people are stopping by during all hours of the day, from 6:30 in the morning to 10 o’clock at night. It truly speaks to the need of yoga in Greenville.”

 

Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or wbrown@reflector.com. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

 

 

via The Daily Reflector.

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