Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club lends its hand to local business
Acacia Organics, located in downtown Barrington, took advantage of a micro-credit loan from the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club to stock its shelves for the holiday season. | Photo courtesy of Laura Mueller
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:32AM
BARRINGTON — The Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club is working to make Barrington an easier, more welcoming place for small businesses.
The club’s Micro-Credit program, which is designed to make low-interest loans available to qualifying independent businesses, has already benefitted five local businesses, including Acacia Organics, Cooper’s Pizza and Grassroots.
“It’s a great loan for local, small businesses,” said Todd Rhodes, the owner of Grassroots, an urban–flavored general store on Cook Street. “It helped us bring in a different assortment of products.”
Breakfast Rotary member Narayan Murarka, a past club president, explained that the loans, which cannot exceed $5,000, can be processed quickly with a very low interest rate. After businesses apply for a loan, the club’s board reviews the application to determine what the loan will be used for as well examining credit history and other factors.
“We look for the person who has dedication and commitment,” Murarka said. “When they get in a cash crunch, this is a way to help them out.”
Murarka said the loans cannot be used for rent, food, medical costs or any other personal expense.
Laura Mueller and Judy Zabielski, owners of Acacia Organics in downtown Barrington, used a Micro-Credit loan to stock their shelves for the holiday season. Both said they were worried about their inventory after an unusually slow summer.
“They worked so hard to get us that loan by Christmas,” Zabielski said. “It got us rolling again.”
Acacia’s shelves were quickly restocked with gift items like lotions, soaps and candles.
“We sold pretty much everything we brought in,” she said.
The organics retailer also sells supplements, all-natural laundry detergents and other cleaners, as well as organic beauty products. Acacia’s products are designed to support the services the business offers, including an infrared sauna and food sensitivity testing.
Zabielski came up with the idea for Acacia almost four years ago, when she was cleaning houses as a day job. After bouts of fatigue, Zabielski switched to all-natural products to try and boost her energy levels. She reported feeling a noticeable improvement, which prompted her to share the business idea with Mueller.
“It got us started on that journey,” said Zabielski, noting a growing interest in healthy lifestyles.
“People are starting to want to give the gift of health,” she said. “They cared to get us the loan quickly so we could do what we needed to do with it.”
Scott Hansen, owner of Cooper’s Pizza on Hough Street, said the loan he received in 2011 helped him update the restaurant.
“It helped pay for a new cash register and the purchase of some equipment we use in the kitchen,” Hansen said.