Hard-working co-owners Shawnta’ Ray and Rick Harmon are living examples of entrepreneurs who can toughen up when life throws them a steep challenge. They also know how to “Happy Up,” which is why – eight years ago – they incorporated their toy store business under that moniker.
The duo’s successful business, which currently includes storefronts in Glen Carbon, Ill. and Clayton, Mo., are solidly operational due to their own tenacity, extremely loyal customers and the support of the Small Business Development Center.
Ray, who worked for 10 years as a sales clerk and later as manager for the company’s previous owner, bought what was then known as Once Upon a Toy (Edwardsville) and LagoonaMagoo Toys (in O’Fallon, Ill. and St. Louis). The Small Business Administration (SBA) provided Happy Up with a guaranteed loan on their business.
In 2008 the recession hit, adversely affecting the nation’s small business community and especially independent toy retailers. After three years of anemic sales – combined with months of careful consideration – the pair made the difficult decision to close two locations and consolidate operations. (more…)