Fashion-forward boutique discovers grant from First State Bank and FHLB Dallas to be a perfect fit

Fashion-forward boutique discovers grant from First State Bank and FHLB Dallas to be a perfect fit

WAYNESBORO, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

The small town of Waynesboro, Mississippi may have only 5,000 people and three stop lights, but you'll find a big success here in Reverie Boutique – an upscale shop offering women's and children's fashion and accessories.

The store, which began life as two separate businesses, merged in 2014. It is now owned and operated by two sisters: Sheila Nicholson, and Sherri Merrill, and Amber Lawson, who is Ms. Nicholson's daughter and Ms. Merrill's niece. Together, they turned the boutique into a bustling, full-time business, even after a flood in January 2015, which forced the store to close temporarily while cleaning up two inches of water inside.

"We carry a different style of clothes – for young moms who still want to be really cute but classy," said Ms. Lawson, who founded the original Reverie Boutique. Ms. Merrill and Ms. Nicholson had a separate clothing store and then joined forces with Ms. Lawson. "After we merged, we decided in 2014 we should purchase a building instead of renting," Ms. Merrill said.

The business owners banked with First State Bank, a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas). They discussed their financing needs with First State Bank Vice President Jarrod Frasier, who suggested a loan funded by an Economic Development Program (EDP) advance from FHLB Dallas to purchase the building. The trio also qualified for an accompanying $16,950 EDPPlus grant from FHLB Dallas, which they used to tear down walls and enlarge the space inside the one-story building.

As part of the EDP program, the entrepreneurs also worked with the small business development center at Jones County Junior College, which assisted them with their business plan.

FHLB Dallas awards noncompetitive EDPPlus grants through members, like First State Bank, in conjunction with EDP advances. The grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis to promote and enhance small-business development and job creation. In 2015, FHLB Dallas will make available $1 million in EDPPlus grants through its member institutions.

Mr. Frasier said First State Bank has used EDP advances and EDPPlus grants quite a few times, wanting to inject those funds into the local economy.

"We thought the EDP and EDPPlus programs would work well for Reverie to purchase a building and make upgrades," said Mr. Frasier. "By funding the inventory with their savings, the owners have taken a conservative route of crawling before walking, so to speak."

He noted that Reverie Boutique had rented their previous space for a long time, wanting to make sure their core business model was successful.

"We're wanting to redo more, but it's hard to find the time to close for the remodeling," Ms. Nicholson said. "Business is going really well."

Their success is just one of many stories heard by Greg Hettrick, vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas.

"The EDP advance, and its accompanying EDPPlus grant, offer business owners the rare opportunity to leverage a grant that's available to for-profit businesses," said Mr. Hettrick. "We are very pleased to be able to support communities, like Waynesboro, to grow and thrive with the EDPPlus and other grant programs."

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