"From a legal standpoint, the first thing I did was register my company name. Then I registered the business with the Illinois Department of Revenue, and applied for my federal Employer Identification Number," explains Vic Brounsuzian, 44, who runs a small shop selling nuts and fine chocolates with his wife, Suzette. In the fall of 1995, the Brounsuzians set up shop in a plaza located in the village of Streamwood, Illinois.
"I had a booklet from the SBA that identified everything we needed to do, so I followed it step by step," Vic says. "Since this wasn't going to be a homebased business, the next big thing we had to do involved working out an acceptable lease agreement with the shopping plaza. That, of course, was handled through our attorney. In the end, we settled on a three-plus-four lease, which means we have a three-year commitment on our original lease, and the option to carry on with an additional four-year lease if we decide to stay. The figures for the additional four years are already worked out, so all we have to do is notify the plaza six months in advance to let them know if we're planning to continue on for the remaining four years."
Prior to their grand opening, the Brounsuzians faced a series of inspections and requests for renovations. "Here, everyone does their own inspection--the village of Streamwood does an inspection, the fire department does an inspection, and the Health Department does an inspection," Vic states. "Reviewing preliminary plans, the inspectors say things like, `You need a three-compartment sink here, you need special wall outlets with their own circuit breakers there.' Once you finish everything up and they see something they overlooked, they tell you that you've got one week's time to change it; then they come and inspect the place again. In order to get into business, you just go and do whatever it is they want you to do."
Like Marian Fletcher, the Brounsuzians were surprised by some of the requests made by Health Department officials before their premises could be approved. "When you get into a business like this, the Health Department is very, very fussy. In our case, they even required that the scoop holders for our nut scoopers be a certain length, so that if customers ever leave the scoops dangling, they will not touch the bins below," Vic says. "Believe it or not, they came in with a tape measure and measured every single one of them. And we've got over 120 bins in the store."