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Local business earns national honor: A Business Equity & Opportunities Success Story

Wild Birds Unlimited

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — This story is for the birds.

In this case, that’s a good thing – as Wild Birds Unlimited earns recognition from the Small Business Administration.

Each week on Business, Equity, and Opportunities, in a segment called Success Stories, local entrepreneurs share the trials and tribulations that led to their triumphs.

This week’s edition focuses on the stunning growth of Wild Birds Unlimited and the 4-decade journey of Jim and Nancy Carpenter as they built their local vision into a franchise with an enormous reach.

The story started simply, with a small location and the aim of helping people attract birds to backyards through feeders and high-quality, specially-formulated blends of bird seed.

“It was never treated as a serious hobby,” Jim Carpenter explained in our Business, Equity & Opportunity interview. “So when I opened up, and I treated it as a serious hobby, I taught people how to attract the birds, how to learn about the birds, enjoy the birds. That’s, I think, what helped turn it into a real hobby.”

From a single storefront in Broad Ripple in 1981, Wild Birds Unlimited quickly turned into a franchise operation. In 1983, through exactly the kind of ‘next steps’ that we highlight each week on Business, Equity, and Opportunities, Jim Carpenter developed a partnership that allowed his single-store dream to turn into a wide-ranging reality. The Carpenters also went through the process of reacquiring the company to wholly own it once again.

Wild Birds Unlimited now has well over 300 stores, stretching from coast to coast.

The success of Wild Birds Unlimited has earned it a major new honor from the Small Business Association as the agency celebrates its 70th year. Jim Carpenter says an SBA mentor helped him in the early years of his business and developed in him a strong belief in the value of mentoring.

“Just because you know how to run the business doesn’t mean you know how to grow the business,” offers Carpenter. “The more help they get from sources such as the SBA or others, the quicker they are going to learn those skills.”

Please join us at 10 a.m. Sunday on WISH-TV or WISHTV.COM to see the rest of the Success Story of Wild Birds Unlimited and the SBA.