November is a time for giving thanks, giving back, and gathering with loved ones. For this month’s “Dealership Spotlight”, we wanted to feature a dealership that embodies these values and emphasizes the true meaning of the holiday season. Smoky Mountain Fundraising became part of the Butter Braid® Fundraising team in 2007. Since the beginning, this company’s mission has been to help families in the community get the opportunity to make special memories through fundraising because, for this dealership, family is everything.
In the early 2000s, Karen Fontaine was looking to start a new career. After taking some time off from her nursing job to take care of her niece, Karen knew she wanted to do something different. She was looking for a job that would give her more flexibility to spend time with her family and be her own boss. To Karen, family is the most important thing, so a job that would allow her to help other families and spend time with her own would be the most ideal.
Thankfully, in 2007, Karen was presented with the opportunity to open a Butter Braid Pastry fundraising dealership in her area. This was exactly what Karen was looking for as it would allow her to work with the great people in her community and would work around her family’s schedule. In July of that year, she opened Smoky Mountain Fundraising in Alcoa, Tennessee.
At the beginning, Karen was working with a very limited budget. However, she was determined to make her dealership a success, so she found a way around any obstacle she found in her path. She was never afraid to ask other, more experienced dealers for help, and she found her own answers to problems when no one seemed to have any.
Changes to the Dealership
Today, Karen still runs the business almost entirely on her own. She does get plenty of support from her husband, Dean, whose main job, according to Karen, is to lift all of the heavy things. While Dean is doing the physical heavy lifting, Karen is updating her dealership. She dedicates a lot of time to streamlining her business, so she can better serve her customers.
Since 2007, one of her biggest changes has been to her freezer storage. In her first year of operation, her freezer could only store less than 200 pastries. Now, Smoky Mountain Fundraising can house more than 5000 pastries. The second biggest change was to the delivery vehicle. This new van has a wheelchair lift that helps with more of the heavy lifting and makes deliveries much more efficient. Finally, the addition of a Zebra printer has helped decrease sorting time tremendously and makes deliveries look very professional. All these modifications to tools and equipment have helped to make Smoky Mountain Fundraising a dealership that families and groups can depend on for a successful fundraising program.
Smoky Mountain Fundraising has helped just about every group imaginable run successful fundraisers over the years. These groups have raised money for new playground equipment, classroom supplies, sports clubs, church pews, mission trips, field trips, band uniforms, extracurricular activities, and much more. Smoky Mountain Fundraising had a seller in one group sell a total of 175 pastries which is currently this dealership’s record for most pastries sold by one person! In total, Smoky Mountain Fundraising has run a total of 766 fundraisers, with groups raising $893,794.53 for their causes.
For Karen, these fundraisers are about more than just raising money. Her whole life, Karen has had a giving and helpful heart. She has always gone out of her way to help others and give back. This is why she’s so devoted to making her fundraisers as simple as possible. Smoky Mountain Fundraising’s devotion to its groups is why the dealership has such a high customer-satisfaction rate. Once a group starts working with Smoky Mountain Fundraising, they never want to work with another fundraising company. They’re amazed at how easy she makes the process; “hassle free” is the most common way groups describe her fundraisers. Loxy B., a local group leader, said, “More than satisfied – excellent customer service. No improvements needed. You have this down to a perfect science!”
Karen doesn’t just sell Butter Braid Pastries in her fundraisers; she also bakes them! Whether it’s for group samplings, events, or just a Sunday treat, Karen is always baking pastries. Since she started in 2007, she has personally baked 7,147 pastries! Her personal goal is to break 10,000.
The local annual Christmas parade is Karen’s favorite event for Smoky Mountain Fundraising to take part in. She says it’s so much fun to see people’s face when they get something special like a potholder, pop socket, bouncy ball, or candy that she’s specially made for her business. For Karen, she loves this chance to spread the word about her business and to give back. It’s a time to see all the families she serves in her community together, having fun, and spreading cheer.
We are very fortunate to have someone as dedicated to helping families as Karen Fontaine on our team. Smoky Mountain Fundraising is a dealership that brings a lot of care and attention to its fundraisers and the communities it serves. If you are looking to run a fundraiser in the Tennessee area, give Smoky Mountain Fundraising a call today! Let them make you part of their fundraising family; you’ll be very glad you did.