It could be said that Lara and Aaron Shaw jumped into the inflatable business for the fun of it.
It has been one year since the Shaw family purchased Southern Illinois Inflatables, LLC and the business they never dreamed of owning has flourished under their hard work and dedication.
“It was a venture we had never thought about doing before so it was completely new to us,” said Lara Shaw, owner. “We took over ownership in May 2018 and we had no training. We jumped in during the busiest time of the year.”
Lara and Aaron managed to develop new systems for unloading and load- ing equipment, hired and trained employees, and reformed the business while Aaron continues to work a full-time job and Lara manages their home rent- al business and works as a substitute teacher. With twin, 6-year-old boys, as well as teenagers, the couple had a strong grasp of their target market and knew from experience how to entertain all age groups.
“We are competitive with our prices and strive to be the lowest priced around, we want to make this something that is available to everyone,” said Lara. “This is one reason we have also created payment plans so families have an affordable option to create memories for their children’s special events.”
Southern Illinois In at- ables is an eye-catcher for children young and young at heart. Now with over 30 inflatables in their inventory, there is a variety of bounce houses, obstacle courses, slides, dunk tanks and even inflatable movie screens available for both children and adults to enjoy.
This business, while it is pro fitable and brings a significant amount of joy to the Shaw family, is founded on deep-rooted beliefs of giving back.
“We work with not-for-profits, community organizations, churches, schools and businesses,” Lara said. “We also love to give back, so each month we choose an organizations or group, and give them a percentage of our profits.”
Lara said they structure their pricing by the day and not by the hour so those who are renting their inflatables are getting the most value for their dollars spent. Their inflatable rentals are also no work to their clients. The inflatable rental also includes set up and take down by Southern Illinois Inflatables employees.
While Aaron handles the training and is usually found working with their crews on the weekends, Lara is the backbone of the business. Their children and other family members are often found working and playing right along with them.
“We are a great option for your next get-together, birthday party or any type of celebration.” Lara said. “We are here and we are invested in the community.”
Lara took advantage of the tools available at no cost from the Workforce and Illinois Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Illinois College. The WISBDC assisted Lara with research and a business plan.
“I think if you don’t know about business, the Small Business Development Center is a great starting point,” Lara said. “This office answers your questions and makes sure you are doing everything right. I have 20 plus years in business ownership and I still had questions.”
Lara and Aaron plan to take this business to new heights with the addition of more equipment, growing into their new office space on Veteran’s Drive in Harrisburg, and they are planning to build on a party room next to their current location to be available year-round for winter birthdays and events. Lara said they are also in process of adding tent rentals to their inventory.
Southern Illinois Inflatables can be followed through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For further information, contact them at 618-499-4918, www. southernillinoisinflatables. com, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Workforce & Illinois Small Business Development Center is designed to assist owners and managers of small businesses as well as anyone wanting to start a business in the area. Most of their services are available at no charge. For more information about the WISBDC and their services call 618-252-5400 ext. 2312.