Business Name: Country Bumpkin
Address: 116 West Washington Street, Rensselaer
Contact Info: 219-964-2018
Owner: Jennifer Petro
Opening Date: April 2018
What does this business do?
The store sells antiques, home decor, Naples soap, local honey and local-made candles. If I'm going to get any kind of new items in here, I try to keep it local — or at least within Indiana.
What was the impetus for opening this business?
I basically just started it with stuff out of my own home. And I had the potential to move out from having my booth (in another store), and I wanted to continue what I was doing.
What is the best thing about being located in Rensselaer?
It's a small-town business.
What is the biggest challenge?
Attracting people from other towns.
When is your busiest time of the year?
Holidays, toward Christmas time.
What is the most popular thing you sell/service you provide?
Probably the home decor and the local honey.
What is a less popular item/service you would recommend?
We also have home-made jewelry. I make some of it myself, so I could even take orders on a specific type of necklace or collars that somebody wants.
What is the thing you most like to do as part of your business?
Decorating the shop.
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
The flexibility of being able to carry in here what I want to carry. I have control over how I want to make it more my own.
What is the biggest downside?
Disappointing customers when we don't have what they're looking for.
What is the biggest misconception about your business?
It's hard to pinpoint different tastes. It's hard to pinpoint what everybody's going to be looking for when they come in that door.
How would you describe your business philosophy?
Kind of a slogan that I started out with Country Bumpkin was "taking dreams and turning them into hand-made reality." That still kind of falls into play with decorating, going out and buying certain items. If people have an idea of how they want to decorate a room in their house, then hopefully they can come in here and with a piece here and a piece there they can take it home and turn it into the reality of how they wanted that room to look.
When it comes time to retire is there a family member who will be taking over for you?
"My daughter Katelyn Petro. She's helped me for the last year in the shop, and she knows the ins and outs of every day and pretty much what I expect out of items coming into the shop and everything, so if I was to ever need somebody to step in and take it over, she would be my first go-to for it."
How has your business changed over time?
It's grown from how I originally started it. Shop-space wise, the building that I was in before was so tiny. I've been able to at least triple it in size for inventory and everything. I've been able to provide more of a variety of items over the last year.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
It's a lot of work, a lot of your own personal time, a lot of patience. This is our second building to be in and we've done a lot of work on both of them. It's going to take a lot more of your time than I think what you ever realize that it's going to. And so you have to make sure that it's something that you really want to get into and invest your time into. It's very time-consuming.