Ken Wick left a good job in corporate America to have some fun. In fact “Less Stress, More Fun” is the tagline of his business, Monkey Business, the party and gift store he opened in March 2012 in Brookfield. From birthday decorations, to piñatas, to unique party packages hosted in the store’s party room, Monkey Business offers an array of party and holiday-themed supplies and novelty items that has attracted a number of loyal customers - a number that Wick hopes will grow as more people discover this fun-focused locale.
“My goal was to open up a store where I could have fun, my employees could have fun and my customers could have fun,” says Wick. “That’s where the fun came from in Monkey Business.”
Though fun is at the heart of his business, Wick takes the work of starting and growing a successful enterprise very seriously.
In 2010 he completed the Entrepreneur Training Program (ETP) at UW-Milwaukee Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “The class really helped me narrow down my business idea and put a focus on it. I learned that it is better not to cater to everybody - but instead to have a niche that is still marketable,” says Wick.
ETP guest speakers were small business owners that offered a realistic picture of business ownership. “We were able to pick their brains on what their biggest challenges were and learn from their advice,” says Wick.
ETP counselors provided marketing, finance and business planning assistance. “The business plan really forced me to dig into my competitors and what my business was all about,” says Wick. “It forced me to do the research, so I knew exactly how many sales per square foot I needed. And it allowed me to think about all the start up expenses required to get a business going. It definitely helped increase my success.”
And while he is off to a great start, Wick is challenged to find ways to increase foot traffic and let people know the store is there. “Once people find me they are coming back. In ten months I have 1,300 customers signed up in my loyalty program.”
Wick and his wife Mary both work at the store along with one part-time employee. While committing most of his day to running the business, Wick strives to also find the time needed to improve and grow it. “I strongly believe in working on my business, not in my business.”
“My goal has always been to have three stores in five years throughout the Milwaukee area,” adds Wick. And though it may take him a little longer to achieve that goal, he still sees it as attainable. At least he’ll have fun trying!
For more information on this new Wisconsin small business, check out the Monkey Business website www.monkeybusinessparty.com or stop by 19045 W Capitol Dr. in Brookfield.