David and Tammye Long first met with the Alaska Small Business Development Center Mat-Su in 2010 after attending a Starting a Business workshop. They worked with Business Adviser Julie Nolen to decide what type of business would have the most potential and success. A year later, after weighing the options, they decided to open Northern Comfort, a premier shoe store in Wasilla with a niche in selling quality comfortable footwear to Alaskans.
One of the largest challenges the Longs had during the launch of their business was securing high-end shoe line suppliers. Nolen assisted the Longs by researching and providing key demographic information which was successfully used to negotiate with Dansko, who had originally turned them down. Julie and David also discussed offering complementary products such as socks and tights. They tested the market with a small order and found that the new products became fast sellers.
The Longs attended several classes such as How to Write a Business Plan and Business Bookkeeping while they worked with Nolen during the think and launch stages of Northern Comfort and continue to work with her when they have questions about day-to-day operations.
“We found the personal counseling sessions provided by Julie, as well as the seminars invaluable in setting up our new business” said Tammye, “We look forward to attending additional classes, such as the marketing webinar to further develop our business”.
Northern Comfort’s mission is to provide excellent customer service to their clientele in an effort to fit their unique feet to proper footwear. They have excelled in doing so and are one of just two Dansko suppliers in Wasilla. The Longs have turned their operation into a thriving family business, staffed not only by David and Tammye, but their children as well!