Name: Chattanooga Horse Trams
Location: The barn is located behind The Terminal on East 14th Street.
Products/services: With a presence at the Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Choo Choo, he gives tourists and locals alike a quiet and romantic way to get around town. He runs four horses, four carriages and six drivers Thursday through Sunday. One-way rides are available. Moving more slowly, giving a more scenic look at the town, and enjoying a quieter ride are all important parts of what make horse trams fun, according to owner Mark Neal.
Age: Mr. Neal has been providing a green form of transportation and entertainment since 1992.
Startup investment/annual sales: $250,000 to buy the business, annual sales are $100,000 to $165,000
Biggest hurdle: Trying to maintain a green business while Chattanooga's local and tourist population is increasingly hanging onto its hard-earned dollars. He works a second job and is selling downtown stables. He is trying to expand his marketing by partnering with local businesses and reaching out to locals with gift certificates.
Challenges: Streamlining the business to remain profitable.
Lesson learned: Rising costs create a problem, and with the cost of food and other inputs going up, the challenge is to keep prices for customers reasonable, he said. The key is finding a way to ride out economic turbulence while keeping one's customer base.
Five-year goal: Sell the barn and move the horses to the Chattanooga Choo Choo to keep overhead costs down.