A Savory Small Business Just Down the Street
When I first started at the Center for Rural Affairs, I made sure to bring my lunch from home. I figured there wouldn’t be a lot of options in Lyons. So it was a pleasant surprise to find Soup-N-More, a natural foods grocery, just down the street.
As the name suggests, it all began with soup. A few years ago Rebecka Fleischman wanted to do something with her thanksgiving leftovers. So she started dehydrating her own vegetables, throwing in some spices and giving away these ready-made soup mixes to family and friends.
Word soon spread, and Rebecka developed a small customer base. She remembers traveling to their first food show and selling out within hours.
“That’s when I realized we had a business,” she said.
Rebecka and husband Allen started by converting the living room into a commercial kitchen. But they quickly outgrew the space. And that’s when they turned to REAP for help.
The Center’s Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) is a small business development program unlike any other. REAP is Nebraska’s largest supporter of microenterprise, assisting entrepreneurs often when no other lending capital is available. REAP provides new and existing businesses technical assistance, financing, networking, and business training.
REAP worked with Soup-N-More to secure a US Department of Agriculture RMAP loan to purchase a storefront building. It was important to act quickly while the building was still available, so REAP loan specialists expedited the process. In under two weeks the Fleischman’s had the key.
Today their commercial kitchen and natural food store supports four employees, seven local farmers, and over a dozen local vendors. Over the internet, they sell their products all over the country and to several foreign countries. With REAP’s help, Soup-N-More is now a thriving business and a rural success story – and lucky for me, it’s right here in Lyons!