In a mall where kiosk owners attack shoppers with less-than-fragrant perfumes, Larry Turner takes a more civil business approach.
Turner, VSU marketing major, owns his kiosk in the Valdosta Mall by Foot Locker and Spencer Gifts where he sells Roommates Peel and Stick reusable wall decals.
“I found this opportunity on the mall’s website and decided to try it out,” Turner said. “I had no idea what I was doing or how to start a business, but I knew that I could find out what I needed to know if I asked the right questions.”
With one other employee working during his class time, Turner has been working his kiosk for approximately three months.
“It took me two months of preparation to get this business operational and a lot of self sacrifice,” said Turner.
Making the necessary arrangements to start his business was no easy feat.
“I needed to get a tax exemption form and a reseller’s permit.” Turner said. “So, I asked several people who owned businesses in the mall what I needed to do, but no one would give me a straight answer. I finally decided to go online and try to find out how to get what I needed.”
The first website he visited told him the paperwork could be provided for him, and all it would essentially cost him was an arm and a leg.
Luckily for Turner, he had sense enough to do more research, and went straight to the Georgia Department of Revenue’s website and found that the paperwork he would have been charged for was free if he went to the office personally.
“So, I drove to Atlanta and slept in the parking lot, in my car, because I did not want to rent a hotel room for 10 hours,” Turner said. “I got up the next morning and I was the first one in line. It only took the clerk five minutes to approve my request and get the paperwork back to me.”
After learning the ins and outs of owning a small business, Turner has been able to master balancing school and work quite successfully.
“I do all of my school work there at the kiosk,” Turner said. “The hardest part was getting over the fear associated with starting a business. After the first month it’s really not that bad.”
Just like any other business in the mall, the middle of the week is the slowest, which is better for Turner, considering he has homework to complete.
“I try to make sure that my kiosk looks appealing and that I am personable,” Turner said.
Turner has considered expanding his business, but admits that it doesn’t look likely.
According to Turner, he would have to sell more or different types of products.
The kiosk and its merchandise are far from his personal goals.
“I actually do not plan on running it after I finish school.” Turner said. “Once I graduate I would like to open my own restaurant. I think that starting this business has given me great insight for what it takes to run a business. It also allows me to make some mistakes early on that I can avoid later in life.”
After a few months on the job, Turner encourages the idea that his fellow students might take on the same opportunity given to him.
“A little advice: make sure you have a dependable business partner before starting any business while in school,” Turner said.
Turner enjoys running his business more than he enjoys the income he receives from it.
“[Starting your own business] is supposed to be fun and you should be enjoying yourself,” Turner said. “For me this venture was not about making a profit, but about the experience I could gain.”
Larry Turner: student entrepreneur