Part coffee shop, part glass blowing studio, Pump House at Mind Blown Studio in Deadwood is in the midst of a substantial expansion project. Owner and glass artist, Toni Gerlach, received a small loan from the West River Revolving Loan Fund (WRRLF) in 2013 to start her business, and in 2018, with the business doing well, she secured a loan for expansion from WRRLF in partnership with Black Hills Community Economic Development’s Lawrence County Revolving Loan Fund. Toni says she wanted to increase her glass blowing equipment in order to produce more work and hire more glass blowers and coffee shop workers. She says this means added customers for local businesses as well: “People from the surrounding five states come to take a glass blowing class and then spend the night in the area because glass takes overnight to cool. Also, glass blowing is not a skill that everyone has, so hiring more glass blowers means that people will be moving here from other parts of the country, such as Tulsa and Pennsylvania.”

Toni Gerlach, Mind Blown Studio

The West River Business Service Center’s Cate Rouillard helped Toni secure the revolving loan funding and according to Cate, “The Pump House offers such vibrancy to the community. For Toni to be able to grow with the demand is really significant.” Cate says WRRLF supports small businesses to expand and grow, often partnering with banks, but offering more flexibility in terms of the types of collateral accepted. “We offer loans for people who might not qualify for a bank loan for whatever reason,” says Cate, such as having their collateral tied up in somewhat non-traditional things like “honey bees, horse bits, or a glass blowing furnace.” Toni says having had the experience of being denied a loan in the past, it felt great to have everything go so smoothly working with Cate and the West River Business Service Center staff, “I feel like they’re willing to take a risk on you, on something out of the ordinary.” It’s a risk that has definitely paid off, bringing more jobs, tourists, and artists to Deadwood.

The Pump House at Mind Blown Studio is located at 73 Sherman Street, Deadwood, SD, (605) 571-1071. You can track the remodeling progress on the Pump House’s Facebook page