Company: Design Toscano Inc.
Founded: by Michael and Marilyn Stopka in 1990
Location: Arlington Heights, Ill.
Business: Sells historical European reproductions
Start-Up Capital: $6,000
The Stopkas peddle statuary replicas by mail, and they made enough of a splash to have been dubbed "#1 Gargoyle-phile" by Time magazine in the prerelease hoopla surrounding The Hunchback of Notre Dame. They send out some 7 million catalogs a year, yet until recently they didn't need a warehouse and had no carrying costs. Their secret: finding suppliers that not only are willing to drop ship to Design Toscano's customers but will float the Stopkas' company credit as well. "Our vendors are our capital," acknowledges Michael. "If you tell them you'll have a million dollars in two weeks, they know it's OK to hold their bills."
This article was adapted from material that first appeared in Inc. magazine in August 1997.