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Survival Techs store closes on State Street after failing to secure loans

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Survival Techs Emergency & Disaster Readiness Supplies, 308 State St., closed last week after failing to acquire from public agencies the loans it needed to stay open.

The store, which specialized in survival gear for emergencies and natural disasters, was opened by John A. Bang next to the Time Warp Tavern in April 2012. This month, Mr. Bang sought to acquire loans of $20,000 from the Watertown Local Development Corp., or Watertown Trust, and $30,000 from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. The Watertown Trust last week decided to table its decision; after that, the JCIDA’s loan review committee decided not to consider its request.

“The feeling was there was a very significant amount of debt that would need to be repaid if we granted this loan,” JCIDA CEO Donald C. Alexander said. “And it didn’t appear the organization would have enough resources to repay this loan, and loans to the Watertown Trust, satisfactorily.”

Mr. Bang, who will continue to sell inventory on his business’s website, spent the past three months developing a long-term business plan with assistance from the Watertown Small Business Development Center. Though he already had acquired two $10,000 loans from the Watertown Trust — one to open the business, and another this spring for cash flow — he said he thought the organization would be willing to accept the $20,000 loan request after reviewing his business plan. The plan detailed how advertising money would be spent to tap into out-of-state markets and used to display inventory at trade shows. Extra cash flow was needed to keep the business open, he said, after a slowdown in sales over the first half of 2013.

“Without that advertising money, I was dead in the water, but I wasn’t given a chance to help myself,” the 50-year-old businessman said. “I realize the loan is a risk, but I already have a history with the Watertown Trust and $30,000 of my own money in this. I wasn’t willing to take an uncalculated risk.”

Not to be deterred, Mr. Bang said he now will focus on retooling the business’s website, www.survivaltechs.com. The business now accepts orders only by telephone, because inventory is shipped from 12 companies across the country. But he said he plans to launch an online marketplace for customers to complete online transactions. Depending on the website’s success, he said, he eventually could decide to open a physical location again in downtown Watertown.

Mr. Bang previously owned a Chaumont-based store called Compu-Techs for nine years. He closed that store last year to open Survival Techs.

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