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Building Community Through Business

Grand Marais
Grand Marais

FinalCut_JillCommBiz_20110315.mp33.29 MB

Is it possible to create a business around community needs? Can it be sustainable? Jill Terrill, founder of Joy Enterprises LLC, did just that, using her business to create a space where community members can share their unique art, crafts, antiques and music. In this interview, Jill speaks a little bit about the motivations and goals behind her community-oriented business model.


For most businesses, profit and the bottom line are the center and focus. For Grand Marais resident and business owner Jill Terrill, however, that’s only part of a sustainable business model. Terrill, founder of Joy Enterprises, LLC, which encompasses Threads and The Garage in downtown Grand Marais, founded her business in 2006 in part to help provide employment opportunities for people of our region, as well as to provide a platform for local people to sell their art or crafts. In 2008, she and her husband Paul purchased the former Lake Superior Collectibles building downtown.

Terrill: I now had 4,000 square feet to use and not a real plan in place. And so, as I thought about the space, I really, I decided that I could provide a living wage to one person potentially or use that space to provide supplemental income for a broad range of people in Cook County. So, that was the track that we chose to take, and we established Joy Enterprises, LLC and our mission is to provide the opportunity for supplemental income to people who live in this region.

Grand Marais’ tourism-based economy is necessarily focused on tourists and meeting their needs. Jill, however, focused her business model for Joy Enterprises on meeting community needs first.

Terrill: Our logo is a tree with the roots exposed and what we’re trying to do is really to focus on feeding the roots of the community, figuring that the tourists are the sunshine and the water that rains on the tree, but without strength in those roots, it doesn’t sustain, and so that’s our focus. …..Again, you know, we are there to service tourists, but making this an easier place to live year-round is our main focus. You know, bringing clothing closer to town so that you don’t have to do the 100-mile, 200-mile trip.

Of course, community-oriented business comes with many financial challenges. Jill says she finds balancing the needs of community members with running a responsible business one of the more difficult hurdles.

Terrill: My biggest challenge, I think, is that I’m in a strange netherland between non-profit and for-profit, and I’m trying to find the right balance between, because I tend to be altruistic, and I would love to just take care of everybody. “Come on in! Sell your stuff! That’s great!” And so, I’m finding my way through that and, you know, I do need to ask things of people in order to be able to offer as much I can for community, so that’s my balance point I’m working on very hard.

Despite challenges, Jill continues her efforts to fill what she sees as some of the employment and service gaps in the community.

Terrill: It’s still something that’s evolving. But, we’re open to suggestions, you know. We have home-based businesses coming in and doing fairs. We have opportunities for groups who are trying to fundraise, girl scouts, boy scouts, and those. We’re trying to have the groundwork there, so that they don’t have to recreate the wheel every time. They can step in and really focus their efforts. And so, you know, we’re open to working with anybody who has a need in the community, and you know, just trying to facilitate whatever people are inspired to work on.

For more information on Jill’s efforts, contact Jill at 387-1004.