Harley and Bridgette Hooper have each owned and operated high quality men’s and women’s clothing stores in Tyler, TX for decades and have been quite successful over the years. Harley opened The Suit Club, Inc. in 1979, later named Harley’s Menswear. Known for its chic men’s clothing designs and top-of-the-line tuxedo sales and rentals, Harley’s Menswear has established itself as a men’s fashion leader in East Texas.
Harley’s wife, Bridgette, has also made a name for herself as an expert in women’s fashion in East Texas. She opened Bridgette’s Boutique in 1992, and her high-fashion women’s clothing shop became an instant success.
Dreaming of working side-by-side and desiring the simplicity and consolidation of overhead and administration, the Hoopers began strategizing about combining facilities and creating a “destination” retail clothing center for men, women, and children. When it came time to start thinking about acquiring a Small Business Loan for the project, they consulted with John Hart.
“I’ve known John Hart for a long time,” says Harley Hooper. “Perhaps 20 or 25 years now. I’ve had many SBA loans over the years, but John always told me that when I was ready to build my commercial real estate – come talk to him, and he’d tell me if the project would work or not. He reviewed all of my information and said, ‘we can do this.’ From that point forward, John was our greatest advocate. He handled everything very, very professionally. After all, a borrower’s greatest fear is the paperwork & red tape. I didn’t have the time or inclination to tackle it. But John helped us. He’s a complete joy to work with, and he did a tremendous job.” —Harley Hooper, owner
After graduating from mortuary school in November of 2000, Chris Steward and his father Johnnie desired to open a funeral home together. Despite Johnnie’s more than 50 years’ experience in funeral home management and Chris’s credentials as a recent mortuary school graduate, the two struggled to find a bank willing to provide the Small Business Loan they needed to embark on their new adventure.
Johnnie and Chris contacted John Hart to explore their options, and he helped bring their dream to life. John was able to use his expertise to help the Stewart family acquire an SBA 504 loan in September 2003 to purchase the land and begin construction.
Today, the Stewart Family Funeral Home boasts a 10,000 sq. ft. facility, including a chapel, three staterooms, a spacious reception area, and plenty of office space. More importantly, the company has gained rapport with the residents of East Texas over the years and has established a reputation for professional service. The Stewarts provide full-service funerals, cremation services, and headstones.
“John was recommended to me by my accountant and my real estate broker as someone who really knows small business lending. They had previous experience with him, and I have to say, John really, really helped me when it mattered most. I had gotten pretty frustrated trying to find a bank because when a business is first starting out, it is difficult to get capital. John paired me with a bank, and without his help, I would not have been able to start my business. It is obvious to me that John has a great financial mind. He and his team were a real God-send to me.” —Chris Stewart, owner/funeral director
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