John and Tammy Clower had never worked in retail before, but as longtime educators felt they had good instincts for what children, and their parents, might want to buy.
When Giggle Monkey Toys was going out of business in 2014, the Clowers saw an opportunity. They secured a $20,000 loan from ACE to buy the shop, on the square in Dahlonega. Five weeks after notifying the original owners of their intent to buy the store, the couple closed on the purchase and opened Giggle Monkey Toys under their ownership. “We paid it back quickly, within a year and a half,” says Tammy Clower. “ACE was so helpful and so easy to work with.”
The shop met a niche need: it offered specialty toys – high-end, and educational – not found in the big-box retailers. “We like to say that coming to our store is an experience,” Tammy says. “When you come in, you have fun and learn something beyond just buying something.”
Within a year of purchasing the store, Tammy and John hired their first employee. After two years, the revenue had more than doubled, and Giggle Monkey LLC was debt-free. The enterprise continued to grow. This past spring, the Clowers decided to open a second store in the outlet mall in Dawsonville. They secured a $30,000 loan from ACE. “This loan had to be bigger than the first because we were starting from scratch,” Tammy Clower says.
Today, Giggle Monkey Toys employs three workers in Dahlonega and six in Dawsonville.
“We owe so much of it to ACE,” Tammy says.