Vicki Schulte (right) receives her first place award for the Business Plan Challenge for her soon-to-open business Once I Was. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
Vicki Schulte (right) receives her first place award for the Business Plan Challenge for her soon-to-open business Once I Was. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)

BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - One winner was announced Thursday from the three finalists in the Business Plan Challenge. First place was given to Vicki Schulte who presented the plan for her soon-to-open business, Once I Was. The shop will feature designed and unique repurposed merchandise.

"Our business plan is already into action," Schulte noted. "We're planning on opening our shop at 121 S. Washington St. in May."

Schulte said that things are moving fast toward her grand opening. The business plan she drew up for this competition was for a sole proprietorship, but she already has the paperwork to organize as a limited liability corporation (LLC).

Schulte's business plan for his business is set up as more than the repurposed merchandise she has been offering at places like the Market on Main.

"Our plan is to do things in thirds," she stated. "One-third of the merchandise is going to be the things we create. One-third is for things we have been testing the waters to order wholesale merchandise to sell at retail. The other third is to offer to little micro-business entrepreneurs."

She hopes that with 700 square feet of business area and 14-foot ceilings, there will be plenty of room to help out the smaller business operations.

"It's like a pay-it-forward type of thing," she explained.

The Entrepreneur Fair and the Business Plan Challenge are provided jointly through OSU Extension Economic Development, the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce, Community Improvement Corporation, Main Street Van Wert, and Wright State University Business Enterprise Center, along with the City and County of Van Wert.

Second place in the Business Plan Challenge went to Christy Balliet with her plan for Play Days Daycare, LLC, a state-licensed daycare facility in Convoy. Third place went to Mike and Tracey Reichert of Distinct Curbing, LLC, a landscaping service for residential and commercial properties.

The Reicherts recieved $500 in business development funds. Balliet was given $1,000 in business development funds, 500 printed business cards from Burcham Printing, and a unique plaque designed by The Artful Swan.

Schulte was also awarded a plaque from The Artful Swan, 500 printed business cards from Wilkinson Printing, certificates for business courses and continued counseling through Wright State University Lake Campus Business Enterprise Center, a Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce Business Membership, and $2,500 in business development funds.