Erie & Anchor
Building a Brand
Many Erie County natives can say they worked in retail at a young age, or spent extended time on Put-In-Bay, or in some way or another developed a deep love of the lake. Few can say they've translated that into a multi-channel, small business success story or side hustle turned dream coming true. Micah Roberts, Founder and Owner of Erie & Anchor, can say just that. All while working as a medical sales executive and mother of three, Micah has spent the last three years building, refining, and growing her business. With a vision to be the "next Vineyard Vines", Micah launched her proprietary brand Erie & Anchor in December 2017 with an online store. By spending endless nights and weekends working the project as well as markets, pop-ups, and events in the region, Micah has now opened her flagship retail location on the corner of Main St. and Liberty Ave in downtown Vermilion.
Fast Facts
  • 80% of Erie & Anchor's printing, transfers, and embroidery are done in Northern Ohio
  • 768 hours were spent at markets, pop-ups, and events in the first two years of business to grow this "side hustle"
  • 5% of all sales are donated to research ways to keep Lake Erie clean
So how exactly does someone with a full-time job become an entrepreneur? For Micah, time and again it has come back to putting herself (and her vision) "out there". Along the way, countless friends, family, and trusted advisors have influenced Micah's path. Before Erie & Anchor was anything, Micah consistently received warnings, mainly from family, about the retail industry's downward trajectory. Unable to deny those facts, Micah resolved to launch her vision exclusively online to test the waters. Micah then experienced a common challenge among first-time entrepreneurs, perfection paralysis. This is when she received the best business advice that she's received to date - it's never going to be 100% perfect, just put it out there in the universe. Thus, Micah set a deadline for herself and launched in December 2017.
It turns out that putting her vision in front of people has paid off for Micah again. When prime retail space at a major corner in downtown Vermilion became available, she was at the top of the list for Marilou Suszko, Director of Main Street Vermilion, to call. After two years of hustling at markets and pop-up events, partnering with influencers and bloggers to build her audience, gaining traction in the space, and reaching consistent sales, Micah decided she could handle the "risk" of the retail space. She was ready to move into the next phase of her vision, a retail storefront. Erie & Anchor, Downtown Vermilion opened in January 2020.
Having just set aggressive sales goals for her first year in this location and much more, Erie & Anchor was faced with one of the biggest challenges Main Street America has ever seen - COVID 19 and the corresponding economic shutdowns. Despite having to make some quick, short-term pivots such as free delivery and porch drop offs, Micah was able to reopen the store safely as soon as permitted and still blow her original goals out of the water. Micah credits this success to the same strategies as she would in a normal year: goal setting, networking, the ability to know when to ask for help, and working with people who have done it before and been successful - great strategies for entrepreneurs in any industry.
Recognizing her business' stable position, considering the fact that the store is a secondary income, and appreciating the open arms with which Vermilion welcomed her as a business owner, Micah launched a "Vermilion Strong" campaign. Selling purple mugs through Erie & Anchor, the promotion dedicated 100% of sales to be granted to Vermilion small businesses in need. The campaign brought in $2,000 and Micah was able to provide grants to four neighboring small businesses. Erie & Anchor has been a community-minded business since its founding - donating five percent of sales to Lake Erie water quality research. With a strong vision guiding her efforts, Micah is well on her way to becoming the "next Vineyard Vines". Now with six employees, and big goals for 2021, we are confident that budding entrepreneurs will soon be saying they want to be the next "Erie & Anchor".
Did You Know?
Micah credits her success to her "tribe", or close support network of individuals and advisors looking out for the best interest of her business and herself. She has partnered with many organizations such as competitors, collaborators, and community organizations like Main Street Vermilion and RISE - the Regional Incubator for Sustainability & Entrepreneurship. RISE serves as a trusted advisor for people like Micah, helping you to take a side hustle and a vision to a profitable venture. Contact us to learn more or meet with RISE today.
Stay Tuned for Day 5: Firelands Sandusky Healthcare Center
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The 12 Days of Development email series recognizes and celebrates another year of progress in Erie County, Ohio. Throughout the weeks of December, you will receive email spotlights on a company investing, improving and innovating in our community. We can't capture it all, so let us know a neighbor we missed or what activities you've got planned to make the 2021 list! #ErieCounty12Days