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WV Development Office Helping Costume Maker Improve Export Strategy

Dale Morton, owner of Dale Morton Studio Mascot Costumes, has been a small business owner for nearly 20 years whose self-made success has allowed him to reach clients all over the United States and in countries as far as Germany, England and Spain. Now, he’s looking to expand his market by working with the West Virginia Development Office’s International Division to improve his export strategy.

Having a plan

You don’t have to be a multi-national corporation or have hundreds of employees to be successful on the international market. In fact, being a small business may have advantages in today’s marketplace as people are looking for more personal interactions with the people they do business with.

Dale Morton Studio Mascot Costumes has two employees, Morton himself being the only full-time staff member. By having a small operation, Morton can provide the personal touch customers are looking for and ensure each costume he makes meets his quality standards.

“There’s such a big potential for oversea markets in my line of work,” Morton said. “There are so many cheap products out there and people from other countries are desperate for American-made costumes and mascots because they know they will receive a high-quality product.”

By working with the Development Office, Morton hopes to better advertise his services in target markets around the world.

“Costume makers in other countries are getting their materials from America, so buying in another country may actually be more expensive than buying an American made costume,” he said. “That’s why there’s demand for American costumes. I can buy my materials here and keep the overhead costs down and make a better costume at a more competitive price.”

A whole new world of opportunity

In recent years, Morton has worked closely with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center to grow his business in the Mountain State. Through that partnership, he’s improved his website to better market his costumes to clients around the country. But Morton is confident he can replicate his success overseas.

"The Development Office's staff shared a lot of resources with me and their suggestions for improving my exports were extremely promising and opened the world to me in ways I didn't know was possible," he said. “They came down to my studio and presented several options for marketing myself to potential customers in other countries and connecting me with trade experts who can serve as agents in new markets.”

Morton also has plans to apply for grant funding to attend a trade mission to Canada with the Development Office.

“Their help has been really eye-opening,” Morton said. “The Development Office has a lot of resources you can tap into. I 100 percent recommend their services for small business owners.”

The West Virginia Development Office helps businesses move to the Mountain State, expand facilities, export goods, train employees and more. Learn more about the Development Office’s available resources at www.westvirginia.gov.