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?How does your garden grow' during a sluggish economy?
Photos and Story by James Hill
by Gary AllenWhen Hollyann Hood talks about owning a growing business, she means it figuratively, and literally. Hood owns Hollyhocks Garden Essentials. The business is a one-of-a-kind garden art and gift shop located in Portland’s historic Belmont District. With help from Portland Community College’s Small Business Development Center, the two-year-old business is growing at a steady pace and is outdistancing last year’s revenue figures. "PCC’s class has helped me focus my energies into productive avenues,"Hood said. "I have been able to use Galen (Sarvinski’s) expertise to find out specifics about my industry and how I compare to it as a whole."Sarvinski is a counselor and mentor at the PCC Small Business Development Center. Through classes in the Small Business Management Program, part of the SBA network across the state, Sarvinski and other instructors provide counseling, classes and resource materials to small businesses and start-ups. There are currently 63 businesses enrolled in the program. "The goal of the Small Business Management Program is to provide educational opportunities to existing businesses and help these businesses achieve their maximum potential in the marketplace,"said Sarvinski, who has been associated with the program for 13 years. "The classes and mentoring sessions are structured around real-world business scenarios and provide hands-on training and professional growth and development."Hollyhocks Garden Essentials, located in a turn-of-the-century building which has been home to everything from a communist bookstore to a neon benders shop, is a showcase for local garden artists’ work. Artists and craftspeople bring new items in monthly that include everything from garden tools and garden clothing to locally-made wreaths, bird feeders, baths, and houses, and imported English pottery. Landscape design and garden consultation is also available at the 2707 S.E. Belmont St. location. The store caters to an upwardly mobile clientele and high-end gardeners. "Because I offer one-of-a-kind items, Hollyhocks is a very unique shopping experience,"Hood said. In developing her business, Hood sang Sarvinski’s praises, stating he was invaluable in providing training pertinent to the real world of business. "Specifically, Galen has provided me with statistics for inventory turns and advertising budget projections,"she said, adding that despite a sluggish economy business is good. "Currently I am entering my busy season. I have 18-percent growth to this point over last year. I am anticipating a good season. That being said, I have my fingers crossed."Hood said Sarvinski arms his charges with whatever tools necessary to withstand a valley in the cycle of business. And the methods aren’t always traditional. "I feel one of the most important things I get out of the class is the networking opportunities,"Hood said. "The ability to discuss problems and possible solutions that every business owner faces in good times as well as bad times is invaluable."