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Dreamers Opens in Washington County

By Alicia Perez, AERN Student Journalist

"Dream to accomplish great things, just dream." That's the motivation behind Dianne Waites's desire over the years to own her own business and now it has come true, literally.

Dreamers interior
Dreamers interior
Dreamers interior
Dreamers interior
Dreamers interior
Dreamers, a new Chatom, Alabama gift shop owned by Dianne Waites. Photos by Dianne Waites.

Waites is the proud owner of Dreamers, a gift shop located at 17115 Jordan Street in Chatom, Alabama. And it was attendance at an AERN workshop that introduced her to many of the resources she needed to launch and sustain her new business. The event was sponsored by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and the Washington County Public Library, which hosts the AERN resources.

"We had ten to twelve businesses show up to this event, which is huge considering the size of Washington County," said Brooke Atchison, chamber executive director.

For her part, Waites was surprised at the quantity and quality of the resources available at the AERN center. Not only was she able to speak to other small business owners about shared problems, but she was also able to use the software to determine changes that needed to be made within her business.

"Ever since the workshop, I have been better able to take advantage of information about Washington County in terms of age groups and income. I have been able to see how much inventory we should and should not order. I really enjoyed the event," she said.

Waites has always been passionate about creating and designing. With her passion and her enjoyment of working with the public, opening her own business seemed right. Dreamers features such items as purses, jewelry, baby items, wall decorations, Blue Bell ice cream, soy candles, custom wreaths, hand paintings by Bridgette Moss, woodwork art, country quilts and baby blankets, T-shirts, and almost anything needed for a birthday or holiday gift.

"Even in hard times, people should have pretty things," Waites said. She uses Facebook to highlight this enthusiasm and some of the merchandise. On Facebook her potential customers will see dozens of photos and comments like this one from Kathie Dearman, "Expanding-a bigger store for you. Keep working, your dream has become a reality. So proud for you!"

Through the help of AERN, Waites hopes to keep her business alive despite the many struggles that come with any new business. Plans of taking out a loan for Dreamers seemed daunting at first, but after attending the AERN meeting, Waites was confident in knowing that she had business research support in her own community.

She said it was great to have all the help she received from the chamber and at the library and that it was especially nice "knowing there were people there to help us with the idea of taking out the loan. Brooke [Atchison, chamber director] is so helpful and she has done a great job with advertising AERN resources at our library."

Now that she has been in business for awhile, Waites is no longer dreaming about owning a business, only how to make it better.

From AERNews, vol. 11, no. 3, Fall 2011

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