This article originally appeared in the Business Observer (July 19, 2013).
Local veterinarian Molly Caldwell Kraut’s business passion for the last 15 years has been in animals, not necessarily the American spirit.
But her new venture, a retail-general store that only sells products totally assembled and manufactured in the U.S., from Elmer’s Glue to Texas Jeans, is all about patriotic entrepreneurialism. The store, US Mart, in a Venice strip mall next to a Subway and an Italian restaurant, carries national pride down its phone number: 941-412-1USA. Kraut is even in the final stages of opening a U.S. Post Office branch inside the 3,000-square-foot store.
US Mart is the culmination of several conversations Kraut has had with her daughter and father-in-law. Those chats focused on the idea that it’s hard to find genuine made in America products all in one place. “I didn’t want a Web store,” says Kraut. “I wanted to be able to pick up something and know it’s made in the U.S.A.”
Kraut, who also runs Venice Pines Veterinary Clinic, researched the concept for the store for a few years. She discovered a similar store in Ohio and met with the owner. Those two patriotic entrepreneurs were going to enter into a partnership, where Kraut would open a sister store in Venice. The Ohio partner, however, ultimately closed his store, the original US Mart. He sold the inventory, and the website, to Kraut late last year.
Kraut took out a $100,000 loan from Venice-based Florida Shores Bank to get going, and she later invested more money into the store. The opportunity to build a success with this concept, says Kraut, overcame a fear of failure.
“It wasn’t like ‘why do this?’” says Kraut. “It was like ‘why not?’”