Oct 18, 2021

Feature Story: Return of the Alpacas

It’s Small Business Week 2021 and this year we are celebrating entrepreneurs in our community—in particular, those who have overcome adversity, rose to the challenge, and worked to maintain and even grow their businesses under the most difficult circumstances.

Old Mill Alpacas

Old Mill Alpacas is an agri-tourism business located just outside of Colborne, along Northumberland’s beautiful lakeshore driving route. Like many farm-based ventures in 2021, Old Mill Alpacas was struggling to maintain operations as the pandemic wore on. Business owner Amy Kung-Oliver had applied to many of the government emergency COVID-19 grant and loan programs, but all of her applications were declined. Faced with a potentially devastating decision to close down the farm, with the fate of her animals hanging in the balance, she sought the help of local municipal counsellors, the MP’s office, and finally, one of her regular customers (a staff member at Northumberland CFDC who is great devotee of alpaca wool socks). Working with Kim Botrie, Loan Manager at NCFDC, this quickly led to a flexible financing solution that would stabilize Old Mill Alpacas and put the business back on course. Now, Kung-Oliver welcomes visitors and customers back to the farm where they safely access a beautiful boutique, tour the farmyard and learn more about Old Mill’s wool products and exceptional artisanship.

“My stress levels dropped as soon as I started working with Northumberland CFDC,” Amy said. “They are dedicated to local businesses. They came through for us at an extraordinary time of uncertainty. I would die if something happened to the farm and the animals that mean so much to us.”


Amy Kung-Oliver, Owner
Old Mill Alpacas
With the support of NCFDC, Amy returned to caring for her beloved animals, providing value to her customers and expanding the farm business as a wonderful destination for agri-tourism in Northumberland—as well as a local source of comfortably dry, anti-bacterial and long-lasting wool socks.

Amy had this to say: “I’m so thankful Northumberland CFDC reached out to me, I would have closed and the fate of my eighty-six alpacas would have been dire. Because of the financing I received, my business is not just going but thriving! I don’t have to worry about how I will feed the animals, I have merchandise in the store, the alpaca wool is being milled, and all maintenance has been done to face the winter. I have myself and two staff working and I’m taking bookings late into the fall. I’m so thankful.”

Northumberland CFDC is committed to assisting businesses and organizations to mitigate financial pressures caused by the pandemic. To help keep more people employed, and to sustain more employers for recovery. Together, we have worked to weather the economic impacts of COVID-19 and keep more people employed. For businesses located in Northumberland and Alderville First Nation, click here to apply today for flexible financing solutions offered through the Community Futures Program.

         

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