With encouragement from family and friends, Samantha Miller started a women’s lifestyle boutique in 2014 offering clothing, shoes, purses, jewelry, accessories, and unique gifts. Launching The Farmer’s Wife Boutique on Facebook with an e-commerce site, the online site was so successful that in January 2015, Samantha opened her first storefront location in her small hometown of Groton, South Dakota (population 2,000). A year later, she opened a second location in a historic building in downtown Aberdeen, a community of 28,000 about 20 miles away. Before long, she consolidated her operations into the Aberdeen shop.
While building her business, Samantha learned about GROW South Dakota (GROW SD) through a local community Facebook page. Attracted by rates at the time, she took out a loan from GROW SD for inventory and working capital. She also received technical assistance from the Aberdeen Small Business Development Center (which is hosted by GROW SD) and GROW SD loan officers, who helped her improve customer service and record-keeping. Sales increased after moving to the larger community of Aberdeen, which allowed the business to become an employer and add more store hours.
In 2016 and 2017, however, the combination of expanding and temporarily operating two locations; launching a new specialized boutique within the store; and signage problems with the city and landlord that reduced the shop’s visibility—coupled with a nationwide decline in consumer spending—caused a decline in profits.
In summer 2017, Samantha refinanced her existing loan with GROW SD and received a new loan for working capital, which helped right the ship. By exiting the specialized boutique and purchasing much-needed inventory that she had been unable to purchase, she was able to boost sales. In 2018, the business saw positive changes in all financial categories.
Named the SBA’s Small Business Woman of the Year in South Dakota in 2019, Samantha has returned to GROW SD for financing three times since her first loan to continue growing her business. Like many business ventures, The Farmer’s Wife Boutique has had its highs and lows, but Samantha appreciates the assistance she has received from GROW SD.
“Your support means the world,” she shared with GROW SD staff. “I’m so incredibly blessed to have you in my life and this crazy business venture.”
Check out The Farmer’s Wife Boutique Facebook page for news about what’s happening with the business in 2020.