Family-Owned Exotic Pet Store Escapes Rising Lease Rates with SBA 504 Loan

The SBA 504 Program offers 90% financing and a below-market, 25-year fixed rate

Declan McKinney discovered a passion for exotic animals early in life. At nine years old, he caught his first rattlesnake, much to the shock of his parents Mark and Michelle McKinney. It’s no surprise that Declan’s infatuation would develop into a family business.

Today, all the McKinneys are co-owners of Hold Fast Reptiles and Exotics, one of Arizona’s favorite purveyors of exotic animals. Hold Fast sells a wide variety of reptiles and exotic pets in addition to accessories, enclosures, and pet foods. Declan and his team provide expert education and recommendations to customers interested in purchasing and housing unique pets, finding the best match between caretaker and companion, and helping them maintain healthy, gratifying relationships.

The McKinneys acquired Hold Fast in 2021. Declan, a tenured employee at Hold Fast, welcomed the opportunity to amplify his career and take over as owner and manager.

Like many new entrepreneurs, the McKinneys encountered an unexpected financial obstacle when the building owner raised their lease by $1,000 a month. Mark and Declan knew that the increase in overhead would not be sustainable so they began to research commercial real estate and financing options.

Mark stated, “When the landlord increased our rent by $1,000, we began to look for other properties to lease. However, the Arizona real estate market is insanely competitive. Plus, the nature of our business requires a specific type of property to thrive. We couldn’t afford a conventional loan, so I thought we were going to be locked into a lease agreement we couldn’t really afford for the foreseeable future.”

The McKinneys considered securing a conventional commercial loan, but the hefty down payment requirement was an impossible financial hurdle.

Fortunately, they discovered TMC Financing’s Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan Program.

Hold Fast Lowers Occupancy Costs by Buying their Building with 504 Loan

Geoff McGivern, SVP business development

TMC Financing’s senior vice president of business development, Geoff McGivern, helped the McKinneys secure an SBA 504 loan to purchase their 2,300 square-foot building, in Apache Junction, Arizona. By financing the purchase through the 504 program, the McKinneys obtained the property with 90 percent financing and a below-market interest rate, fixed for 25 years.

“SBA 504 loans enable small business owners to purchase owner-occupied commercial real estate at below market rates with no balloon payment,” McGivern explains.  “Mark, Michelle and Declan only had to come up with a 10% down payment to buy a long-term operating location for their business.”

By purchasing their building, the McKinneys stabilized their occupancy costs, at less than their original monthly payment before the lease increase, and gave Declan McKinney the flexibility to utilize and develop the property for a more rewarding experience for customers, employees and animals. Hold Fast Reptiles and Exotics is the sole occupant of the building. Declan has begun to expand their inventory, utilize the excess space for storage and displays, and build new and improved enclosures for the animals. The SBA 504 program is specifically designed to provide accessible and affordable commercial real estate financing to the small business community.  Contrary to popular belief, most for-profit businesses in the U.S. are eligible for SBA 504 financing.

“To be honest, we did not think we would qualify for the SBA 504 loan, but Geoff and the TMC team guided us every step of the way,” Mark McKinney concludes. “We would not have been able to afford to buy our building without this loan program and the 10 percent down payment. I definitely recommend the 504 loan for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business and be in control of their own financial destiny.”

Contact TMC Financing today to find out more or to get started with the SBA 504 loan program.

About TMC Financing

Founded in 1981, TMC Financing is the no. 1 provider of SBA 504 commercial real estate loans in the nation. The company has funded projects worth over $10 billion across Arizona, California, Nevada and Oregon. Over 6,000 businesses have benefited from this financing, resulting in the creation of an estimated 60,000 jobs. Learn more.