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Battle, 47, opened a Blimpies Sandwich shop at 179-51 Hillside Ave. in Hollis in September after retiring from her job as an officer with the city Department of Corrections, she said.
"It was a big switch, but I'm still working with people, and with lots of people with different personas and personalities," Battle said. "I just love it."
Battle, who lives about 10 blocks from her store, worked for Corrections for 21 years before retiring about 1 1/2 years ago, she said. But she and a civilian co-worker, Delores Hall of Jamaica, started saving money for life after their government jobs about three years ago, Battle said. Hall still has eight years before her retirement, Battle said.
"We decided to pool our money together," she said. "Every two weeks we would try to bank money. After three years we felt we had enough to invest in something."
The pair incorporated under the mantle of Charlee's Angels Enterprises Inc., named for their fathers, Charles Hall and Lee Battle, and began to look into investment possibilities, Battle said. They started with real estate but decided against it as they heard horror stories of tenant-landlord disputes.
They considered a sandwich shop after Battle saw a commercial for Blimpies that advertised franchise opportunities, she said. The idea of offering sandwiches appealed to Battle, as it combined her love of cooking and serving customers, she said.
"I love to cook, but I didn't want to get consumed by the volume of public cooking," she said. "I do like to think I bring a certain flavor to your sandwich, though."
Battle and Hall also looked at a Subway Sandwich franchise but chose Blimpies because they thought the company had a more inviting atmosphere, Battle said.
"Blimpies worked more with me, helping me to get what I wanted," she said. "I settled on Blimpies because of their attitude toward me. They're more hopeful for you."
After deciding what to do with the money they had saved, the duo had to secure the loans to open the store and choose a location.
"It's been a long struggle," Battle said. "We had to match what we saved with a loan. It's very demanding. Your credit has to be intact."
For help with their finances and business plan, Battle and Hall went to the Jamaica Business Resource Center, a business development center aimed particularly at helping minority and women-owned businesses. The center helped the pair create their business plan and complete the eight-month process of obtaining a loan, Battle said.
"It was a one-stop shop," said Battle, who along with her partner were named one of JBRC's clients of the year. "You feel like you have hope. Someone's working with you one-on-one."
As for location, the pair settled on a storefront at 179-51 Hillside Ave. despite the large amount of work it required.
"It was extremely, extremely ran down," she said of the place. "We had to just gut it and get everything out."
But the spot held tremendous promise, Battle said. It sits at the end of the F subway line, blocks from four public schools and adjacent to a handful of health centers, she said.
"They're all helpful in keeping us going," she said. "It's a very high traffic area."
The shop is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed Sundays. There are five employees, including Battle, who works days, and Hall, who manages the evening shifts after putting a full day in at the Corrections Department, Battle said. Battle believes her staff is key to keeping the customers coming back, she said.
"They like the aura of the place," she said of customers. "My staff is very personable here. People like that."
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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