Belt’s First Stop Becoming a One-Stop-Shop for Families in Hardin County
–SIC WISBDC Helps Belt Get Started—
Gene Belt loves his community. The Tennessee native and experienced business owner knew he wanted to open a business in Hardin County that would be beneficial for the community. Earlier this year, he opened the doors to Belt’s First Stop, a convenience/grocery/restaurant hybrid store in Cave-In-Rock.
Conveniently located at 71 Illinois Route 1 South, Belt knew he wanted to offer the community a local option to purchase snacks, ice cream, and groceries. In addition, he wanted to provide the community with a restaurant that offers homestyle meals in a clean and comfortable environment.
“I have been in business all of my life in some way or another,” Belt said. “I could have chosen other types of businesses to go into but this brings revenue into our county. I am not interested in just putting money, I want to see Cave-in-Rock grow.”
Belt grew to know Hardin County when his family started camping in the area several years ago. He bought a home in the area to use for vacation rentals but ultimately decided to make that home his permanent residence. He had previously owned an extermination business in the Nashville, Tennessee, area.
The building is separated, one half containing the grocery and convenience items, and the other is a sit-down restaurant. He sells ground chuck, cereals, canned goods, frozen goods, dairy, bread, baked goods, and more. The restaurant offers daily specials and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner six days a week. They are closed on Mondays.
“Our restaurant prices are comparable to other local places,” Belt said. “This is a good place for kids to stop when they get out of school and it offers them a local place to work. It’s easy for people who live in this area to stop in and pick up eggs, milk, and all the things you need at home. Everybody says they are thankful we are here.”
Belt has also stocked his store with hygiene products, over-the-counter medications, and toiletries. He is also planning to offer hardware in the near future.
Belt has worked with the Workforce and Illinois Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Illinois College to start his business, learn about filing and taxes, and ask general questions about business ownership in Illinois.
“The SBDC gives good advice,” Belt said. “They reached out to me and have been helpful. They gave me insight and helped me with whatever I needed.”
Learn more about Belt’s First Stop and see their daily specials on their Facebook page.
The WISBDC is a part of the Illinois Small Business Development Center Network which serves as a dynamic, integrated, small business assistance delivery system. The Network’s mission is to increase the competitiveness, profitability, and growth of Illinois businesses in a global economy. The WISBDC has been developed through a partnership involving the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and the college as a service to Illinois small businesses in Gallatin, Hardin, Pope, Saline, and White counties and portions of Hamilton, Johnson and Williamson counties.
To become a client, set up an appointment, or learn more about the Workforce and Illinois Small Business Development Center, email email@example.com or call 618-252-5400 ext. 2312.