At least a dozen or so aspiring entrepreneurs have already entered and many more have made serious inquiries about starting up a new retail business in downtown Langley this fall – for free.
Well, it’s not totally free, but the Downtown Langley Business Association (DLBA) is offering up a prize package worth more than $135,000 to help launch a new retail store in the centre of the Langley City core, said Teri James.
One lucky B.C. resident, with a detailed business plan in place, has a chance to win this rare contest that provides an entrepreneur with “everything they need to start their own business,” James said during a recent open house in the middle of the City’s pedestrian-oriented shopping area.
The open house was held inside the former One Fish Two Fish location – along the one-way strip of Fraser Highway. It’s the space where the winner will be given six months of free rent as part of the prize package.
The event provided an opportunity for serious contenders to stop in and ask questions of the DLBA, but more over to see and visualize the location, explained James, executive director of the DLBA.
“It’s 1,500 square feet of blank canvas for the winner to do whatever they want with.”
The contest was launched mid-February and applications will be accepted until noon on May 11.
In addition to free rent in the retail space, the winner will receive a lawyer’s and accountant’s help with all the start up paperwork, $20,000 in services from an interior contractor, exterior signs, a grand opening reception, interior merchandising, a promotional car wrap, print media advertising, a security system, City fees, a business coach, and full branding and marketing support, plus more, James said.
“The community here is so supportive that the list of prizes has just kept on growing as more and more business owners hear about the contest,” she added, noting the original prize package was worth $100,000, and has now grown and surpasses the $135,000 mark.
One month into the contest, she said: “We have received more than 50 phone calls and emails from people asking questions about entering – I didn’t expect anyone who was serious about this to officially enter before now because the criteria is vast.”
Now, less than three week from the conclusion, applications are coming in daily.
“There’s some very interesting ones,” James said, unable to divulge any details about existing applications.
But given the calibre of applications already, she’s confident: “I can tell you there’s going to be an amazing retail business in this location in less than five months.”
Thus far, she said the response to the Start It Up Langley contest has been “tremendous,” said James.
The prize package, she said, will give the winner an “amazing head start on success.”
“This will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone, so we’re encouraging everyone to spread the word and get those last-minute entries in!”
Full entry details – which include a business and financial plan as well as a short video – are available at startituplangley.com.