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Success Stories




Lawrence J. Higgins





The first BurgerFi restaurant was started in February, 2011 by a group of gourmet chefs who wanted a quality burger with fresh ingredients.  Created from dissatisfaction with the fast food industry, the BurgerFi concept was born: fresh, never frozen, all-natural, hand crafted burgers, sauces, custard, French fries, and onion rings.  The atmosphere at the BurgerFi restaurant is eco-friendly with an urban feel. 


Mr. Higgins first ate at a BurgerFi restaurant in his native state of New York.  He was impressed with the food, the cleanliness of the restaurant, and the overall atmosphere compared to existing burger chains.  Shortly after a visit to Myrtle Beach, Mr. Higgins relocated to the Grand Strand because he fell in love with the area.  After settling into his new home, he knew he wanted to open a BurgerFi restaurant in Myrtle Beach.  At the time, a BurgerFi franchise had recently opened in North Myrtle Beach and appeared to be doing very well.  Mr. Higgins and his business partners began researching what it would take to open the restaurant.  Mr. Higgins began scouting locations and found a vacant space in Sayebrook Plaza, an up and coming shopping plaza near Surfside Beach, which would eventually be the home of the Grand Strand’s second BurgerFi location. 


To assist in the planning stage for his business, Mr. Higgins came to the Myrtle Beach Area SBDC (MBSBDC) in May, 2014.  He needed assistance navigating through the various agencies to obtain licenses.  During consultations, the MB SBDC assisted him with determining a legal business structure and obtaining licenses (including business, SC sales tax, alcohol, beer and wine, and withholding licenses).  The MB SBDC also conducted market research for Mr. Higgins for inclusion in his business plan to seek additional capital to fund the business.


Mr. Higgins’ dream was realized on June 24, 2015 when he opened his doors for businessIn six months, the restaurant has produced over $600,000 in sales and employed more than 30 people.  “Mr. Higgins’ enthusiasm is infectious!” MB SBDC Area Manager Janet Graham said. “When patrons enter BurgerFi his eyes light up and his beaming smile makes them feel warm and welcome. He epitomizes the spirit of entrepreneurship!”


Mr. Higgins attributes hard work to success with his restaurant.  BurgerFi is open seven days a week and, since opening, Mr. Higgins has been there every day.  That’s another reason he believes his business has been, and will continue to be, successful; he’s there, onsite, making sure the BurgerFi concept is shown through every order.  In his own words, he truly believes BurgerFi is “the best burger on the beach!” Though a new business itself, BurgerFi supports other local businesses by providing local discounts as well as discounts to all service employees.  They have also held community events at the restaurant. 


Since initially coming to the MB SBDC, Mr. Higgins has become a long-term client of the center, returning as new needs arise.  Mr. Higgins stated, “Working with the SBDC helped me put all the pieces together.  It was a pleasure working with Janet and Bernita.”




Kona Ice of Central Horry County

Marvin and Kay Keene


 Marvin and Kay Keene came to the SBDC in March 2014 after attending a franchising workshop hosted by the Myrtle Beach Area Small Business Development Center.  Although Mr. & Mrs. Keene are both professors at Coastal Carolina University, their passion has always been to run their own business.  After hearing the basics of starting a franchise, they felt that this was the way for them to go.  From there, the SBDC assisted the Keene’s with researching franchise opportunities and determining which business would suit them and their interests best.  It didn’t take long for them to find a winner and the planning stage to open Kona Ice of Central Horry County began.  It was the perfect fit for the Keene’s—fun, energetic, with local communities in mind. 

Kona Ice is a mobile shaved ice business where you can create your own snow cone experience.  You have the option to create your own flavor by using the “Flavorwave” or have it made for you.  Kona prides itself on having the most colorful and clean trucks around and the tropical music they play makes snow cones a fun experience for all ages.  Kona Ice is a special kind of business where they give back a portion of sales to their host organization as a part of the MILLION DOLLAR GIVEBACK initiative.  To fulfill this mission, Kona partners with schools, civic organizations, daycare centers, corporations, churches, sports leagues, and many others. In 2014 alone, Kona “FUNraised” over $10,000! If you’re not involved with any of these organizations, Kona is also available for private parties and events.

During their first year of operations, the Keene’s turned Kona Ice of Central Horry County into a very successful business.  The SBDC assisted them with obtaining licenses and permits to start their business, preparing a business plan, customer relations, product expansion, marketing, and much more.  The SBDC also assisted the Keene’s with acquiring capital to obtain two full-sized trucks as well as a mini trailer.  They currently have 3 employees and are looking forward to continuing to grow. 

To find out where Kona Ice will be located along the Grand Strand and to learn more about the most “FUNomenal experience on four wheels”, visit their Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kona-Ice-Central-Horry-County/688901621174330




Crystal Matthews-Bradley, Owner

Kiddie Junction Creative Learning Center



Kiddie Junction

When opportunity knocked Crystal Matthews-Bradley opened the door.  In 2007, she was working in a bank when she learned of an opportunity to purchase a childcare center. Even though she didn’t have prior experience in childcare, she still felt that she should pursue the opportunity and experience the American dream of business ownership. Demand for excellence in childcare is always high and Matthews-Bradley knew she had a lot to contribute to the daycare industry in Myrtle Beach.

After networking with a few business owners, she was referred to SCORE, a non-profit organization dedicated to mentoring small businesses with free, confidential advice. One of her mentors advised Matthews-Bradley to contact the Myrtle Beach Area Small Business Development Center in Conway for further guidance. There she met business consultant Janet Graham who assisted her with a business plan, as well as examining her financials. Graham helped her new client work with the SBA and other financial institutions to obtain a loan.

Graham also suggested that the Bradley’s attend the SBDC’s FastTrac New Venture Entrepreneur class where she and husband Benson gained critical knowledge about being a small business owner. Graduating from that program elevated their motivation to a new level.

According to Janet Graham, Area Manager for the Myrtle Beach Area SBDC, “The Bradley’s were a typical young couple, well-established but interested in pursuing opportunities for a more secure future for themselves and their children. The SBDC counseled the couple and encouraged their participation in the 10-week New Venture FastTrac  entrepreneurial program. They were very apt pupils. Upon graduation, they were able to get a loan, purchase the business, and begin their dream of being entrepreneurs. Over the years the SBDC has continued to be a sounding-board and business counselor for the couple.”

Kiddie Junction was purchased in the summer of 2008.  However, over the years, Kiddie Junction has acquired additional financing to constantly grow their business. Kiddie Junction continues to increase capacity and to employ newly trained childcare workers.

Matthews-Bradley knows that hers is a business driven by relationships and she gets satisfaction from seeing her families every day. “It’s such a great feeling to have happy parents who are comfortable with leaving their child so they can go about their day without hesitation,” she said.

 Keeping her clients, their children and her employees happy and fulfilled is a big job, but Matthews-Bradley is up to the challenge.

“Time management is my biggest challenge,” she said. “I’ve learned to stay focused, use my t

ime wisely and to not be afraid to ask for assistance. That’s what was so great about the Myrtle Beach Area SBDC. They are always there to answer questions and help keep you on track.”‌


S&J Hair Beauty Supplies  

Sunny Palmer, Owner

1380 3rd Ave. S. Unit 1354

Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

Website: www.sjbeautysupplies.com

Email:  admin@sjbeautysupplies.com

 Phone: (943) 839-2046

SJ Hair: Market niche and good location makes for small business success

When Sunny Palmer was manager of a beauty supply store outside of Myrtle Beach, customers often complained about the long drive. Seeing a need for such a resource in Myrtle Beach proper, Palmer decided to open her own small business.

Before opening Palmer made an appointment to see business consultant Maria Briggs at the Myrtle Beach Area SBDC. Briggs assisted Palmer in writing her business plan, building financial statements and projections, registering the business and obtaining a loan from BSB.

“The SBDC was critical to the opening of our business because they helped us to navigate the red tape. Maria helped us to locate funding,” Palmer said. “We appreciate how readily available they were to meet with us.” 

Palmer obtained the $50,000 loan she needed to start SJ Hair and she was open for business on May 5, 2011. Soon, people were coming from all over Myrtle Beach and the Latino, Asian and African-American markets fully embraced the new store. SJ Hair sells wigs, half-wigs, extensions, braiding hair, pony tails as well as other hair care items (accessories, oils, lotions, soaps) at a convenient location on the Grand Strand between Highway 501  and 3rd Avenue South.

SJ Hair continues to perform beyond Palmer’s expectations. Now that she has a solid market share, Palmer has expanded her inventory to include clothing lines. Fully involved in running the day-to-day operations, Palmer has hired one full-time employee.

“Ms. Palmer knew exactly what she wanted,” Briggs said. “She was motivated and wrote a great business plan in a couple of days. She moved ahead rapidly and was an unusually focused client.”

In addition to a storefront, S&J also has an online presence: www.sjbeautysupplies.com. With the assistance of the Myrtle Beach Area SBDC, S&J has become a go-to supplier of wigs, bulk hair, hair extensions, or high quality human hair, at the lowest prices in the area.



Golden Pooches

Sharyn Zarate, Owner

Local Pet Grooming:


‌Sharyn Zarate loves, loves, loves pets! She initially contacted the SBDC for assistance with getting a business license for a pet grooming business of her own that she would operate from within a local pet-friendly hotel. Although Sharyn had worked at this location with the previous business owner, she longed for a business of her own: Golden Pooches. She is thrilled to offer grooming and day-care for vacationers’ pets.

Along with assistance with completing her application for a business license, the Myrtle Beach Area SBDC also assisted Ms. Zarate with how to start, manage, run this business, and much more.

Sharyn has been open and operational since 2013 and continues to improve sales. Her love for making her “clients” look and feel better is evident with each grooming session. Her two-legged clients revisit Golden Pooches whenever they stay at the hotel. They attribute it to Sharyn’s warm smile and caring attitude when working with their pets.




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William T. Sanders invented the Mobile Ice Production System.

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