When Megan Zielke and Patrick Turner lived in Chicago and San Francisco, Zielke was active in the vintage and sustainability movement, and Turner had entrepreneurial aspirations. Once they decided to settle in Kalamazoo in 2017, they immediately saw a need for a vintage and handmade marketplace, and established Vintage in the Zoo.
Zielke and Turner believed in the opportunity enough to seek out a group of small business vendors to test the concept at the local farmers market. Once tested, they continued to drive awareness of their offering to bring out the crowds, and evolved their business model to standalone events.
“Our network is a community of vintage resellers and handmade makers; they are all small business owners themselves to whom we sell booth space. Our customers range from middle schoolers – who think vintage is all the rage – to folks my parents’ age,” said Turner.
As Vintage in the Zoo grew, so did the partners’ need to scale bookkeeping and the back end of the business. A formal introduction to the MI-SBDC, through Western Michigan University, resulted in weekly one-on-one consulting meetings to help define their vision, identify market growth, establish revenue projections, analyze year over year sales growth and make plans to take the business to the next level – all during the pandemic.
“We couldn’t have done it without the MI-SBDC,” said Zielke. “In 2022 our business is growing and flourishing. We now know how to track our money and where it’s going.”
Though Kalamazoo remains home base, future plans for Vintage in the Zoo include regional events in Grand Rapids and beyond.
Learn more at vintageinthezoo.com