Success stories

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Success Stories

Community Futures is pleased to showcase some of the many good news stories in rural Alberta. Everyday we help people like you start and grow successful small businesses.

Vilna True Value

Gisela Klauke
Main Street, Vilna, AB


Running a business in a small village means that you need to provide a number of services to your customers. That is exactly what Gisela Klauke does in the Village of Vilna in Northeast Alberta.

Gisela started her small business in 1997. She owns and operates a hardware store that has hardware, farm goods, paint, household supplies and fishing supplies that meet the wide variety of needs of her rural customers. On top of that she is also runs the local Alberta Registries office from the store. With these services under one roof, she if busy with customers looking for one service or the other. Gisela is also an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and she took the opportunity to renovate a room on the side of the store to rent to the Chamber for their office. This provided the Chamber with a downtown office that was easy for people to access and had all the space necessary for them to hold their meetings, keep their office equipment and supplies.

The Village of Vilna completed a “Boomtown” style renovation of their downtown a few years ago and the Hardware storefront was done to match the theme. It has a historical look and with it’s high profile location on the first corner of the main street, the store adds to the overall theme of the Village. The wooden sidewalks and the old town flavour of Vilna’s main street continue to bring visitors and shoppers to the store.

Today, Gisela keeps busy in her business. She is an active member of the community and can bring a personal touch to her business. She knows most of her customers by name and as a small business, she has the ability to be able to accommodate special requests and services that her customers appreciate.

A step into the Vilna True Value Hardware takes you back in time. It brings back memories of a time when life wasn’t quite so rushed and where a friendly and familiar face meets you behind the counter. Where the question “How are you today” is asked because the owner truly cares and a place where you can relax and take a few minutes to chat about the weather, the crops, or an upcoming event in the community.

Liquor Lodge Inc.

Marc LeBlanc
Jasper, AB


Our doors opened at around 1:30pm on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007. Marc LeBlanc, the founder of Liquor Lodge Inc. began developing the plan for the store in 2006 while still working in the sales department for Coca Cola.

With a vision for clean visual merchandising, the store was developed from scratch in a brand new building. Using modern shelving combined with rustic log woodwork, the store took on a unique look and quickly became a favourite with the locals and tourists alike.

Now after a few years Liquor Lodge has evolved into a full service store with free delivery, great hours and some of thebest staff you’ll find in the business. We work on the premise that to build loyalty you must continuously work on your selection and your service. We intend to be serving our great customers for many years to come

Top Hand Western Shop

Duane Warren and Katherine Balbar
Claresholm, AB


One of the goals of the entrepreneur is to earn your living doing the things you love. Duane Warren and Katherine Balbar started the Top Hand Western Shop in Claresholm to do just that.

“Top Hand” is a saddlery and western wear business and much more. The business provides for all of the needs of participants and fans of the various horse and rodeo events taking place at the Claresholm Agriplex and in Nanton. Duane is well known having 43 years within the industry and has superior knowledge of quality, style and fit in tack and saddles. People will come to Top Hand just to watch him work customizing saddles and harnesses. Top Hand’s customers come from all over Alberta as well as British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the USA.

Top Hand Western Shop opened in the Spring of 2010 with the help of Community Futures to serve as the source for everything equestrian having a large and unique selection of horse tack, including saddles for roping, reining, cutting, barrel racing or ranching; bridles, bits, pads, stirrups and more. You can find the best cowboy gear, shirts, jeans and outerwear along with belts, hats and boots that can be customized on site. They also carry a great selection of horse supplies such as supplements and grooming supplies.

Duane and Katherine’s entrepreneurship supports the jobs of two more employees that make sure that the customers enjoy their shopping experience.

It is the lucky few that get to earn their living doing the things they love to do. It still requires a strong plan and the marshalling of resources.

And for that, Community Futures is ready to help.

Ed's Roofing

Paul Frechette
Fort McMurray, AB


We are a family owned and operated business serving Fort McMurray, available seven days a week to serve all of your roofing needs. We are re-roofing specialists at Ed’s Roofing-- we perform residential and commercial contracting for services that include eavestroughs, new roofs and soffit and Fascia metal capping. We also install water management systems. Our trained roofers pride themselves on their quality work and are happy to answer all of your questions.

Don’t spend another day with a leaky or worn out roof, call us today.

Pink Tie Events

Ashley Walker and Whitney Christensen
Lethbridge, AB


Ashley Walker and Whitney Christensen are two young, vibrant women who have the passion to pursue their entrepreneurial dream. They love business, they love helping people and they love creating happiness.  So when they identified a niche in the wedding planning market in Lethbridge, starting Pink Tie Events was an easy business decision for them.

“Wedding planning is stressful; there are so many ideas, so many opinions and so many choices. We just wanted to remove the anxiety and save some tears by offering a ‘one-stop shopping’ storefront for the bride,” says Whitney.  When the two friends were planning their own weddings, they found there was a lack of selection and availability of everything décor wise under one roof. 

They started small, renting decorations from their home basements but the demand for their services required more space. So they left their marketing and accounting jobs and took the entrepreneurial risk, moved to a storefront and increased their services to include rentals, decorations, gifts, wedding and special event planning, and event setup and takedown.

Even though both women had Business Management degrees, Ashley and Whitney thought they could benefit by registering for the 8-week business training offered by Community Futures Lethbridge.

“Each week there was a new topic taught by a professional from the community,” states Ashley. “We were eager to learn and excited to do the classes. Meeting other people starting their own business was priceless.  We learned from others.  The experiences, the feedback, the advice from the other participants helped us improve and define our business plan and clarify our vision, ” advises Ashley.  “It opened up a whole new direction for us to go,” explains Whitney. “The program helped us improve, helped us validate our plans and gave us confidence.”

The pair is creative and embraces innovation to keep their market fresh.They are often the same age as their clientele and nurture the business relationship. Every event offers a new experience, a new challenge as the little hiccups on the event day are certain to happen.  But the strength of the partnership brings a sense of calm for this “take charge” duo, and the laughter and fun pulls them through the intricacies.

In less than a year, the business expanded to incorporate event planning for fund raising, bridal showers, and a variety of other special events.  When asked if they feel successful, Ashley and Whitney replied in harmony “Yes we do!”  When asked what has contributed to their success, they agree networking and being involved in the community is key.  “And you have to have the passion for what you are doing.”  

The two women are definitely passionate about their business, and passionate about creating happiness.  And yes, most importantly they both agree ‘they are passionate about the color pink.’

Website: pinktieonline.com

Pixedust Photography and Design

Agnes Guminy
Redcliff, AB


Co-owner of Pixeldust Photography and Design, Agnes Guminy, completed the Self-Employment Training program atCommunity Futures Entre-Corp in April of 2009.  This service-based small business located in Redcliff, AB is an incorporated partnership between Guminy and her daughter Jen, and offers its clients the duo’s expertise in photography, web and graphic design, and cinema and mixed media collaborations.

Aside from Guminy’s $16,000.00 personal capital investment into the business, CF Entre-Corp approved Pixeldust for a $50,000.00 loan in March of 2009, which would go towards general start-up costs including equipment and lease-hold improvements. Guminy also recognized the need for proper business training to further operations, which she received through the SE Program.  According to comments made by Guminy towards the training, she felt the program met her needs, beyond expectations.  In relation to the program facilitators, Guminy commented that overall, each seminar leader had thorough knowledge of the subject they were presenting, which enabled her to better understand essential business matters such as financials, marketing, and the overall business experience.  Furthermore, the program’s outsourced presenters including insurance specialists, accountants, and CRA representatives, were an essential part of the learning process, commented Guminy.

Since its inception, Pixeldust has reached a very large demographic, including a Facebook page with over 1200 fans and an interactive website. In May of 2009, tragedy struck the owners’ studio when most of their inventory was perished in a fire.  The team made a quick recovery and was able to continue providing assistance to their large market.  Special services the company offers is their recent implementation of modeling classes, where clients are able to enjoy an interactive setting, learning how to build self-confidence and esteem in front of the camera, while learning how to use lighting and pose effectively.  The last segment of the class includes a photo shoot for each client to contribute to their growing portfolio.  Moreover, Pixeldust offers web and graphic design and cinema and mix media services.

A highlight for the company last year was their contribution as the lead in the CFB Suffield Firefighters charitable calendar project, donating photography services to the campaign.  They also do the photography for the Terrific Kids program through the Kiwanis Club of Medicine Hat Gas City, and are working with the Medicine Hat College, providing photography needs towards rebuilding the website and corporate branding.

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