BY: MEGAN FERRINGER |Sponsored: 1851
Before becoming a Wild Birds Unlimited multi-unit franchisee, Heidi Muma started as one of the brand’s best customers.
Living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Heidi fell in love with the bluebirds that frequented her backyard day after day. So when a new Wild Birds Unlimited opened up in the same shopping center where she regularly got her groceries, stopping in for bird seed and other bird feeding supplies became a weekly occurrence. In fact, Heidi became such a regular at her local Wild Birds Unlimited that when a position opened up at the store, she was asked to come work for them.
For nearly six years, Heidi worked at the Wild Birds Unlimited in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But when her husband, Steve’s, job took them to Asheville, North Carolina, she had to leave behind the first store that sparked her passion for backyard bird feeding. But soon enough, she found another Wild Birds Unlimited location in Asheville, and she quickly got to work as an employee there, too. Steve’s career then took the couple to Denver, where Heidi was thrilled to discover a Wild Birds Unlimited.
Eventually, though, the Mumas were eager to return home to Asheville. That was when they found out that the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Hendersonville, North Carolina—just 20 miles south of Asheville—was for sale.
“When we finally returned home to Asheville, we learned that a Wild Birds Unlimited up in the mountains was for sale. The timing felt right and the opportunity was right in front of us. I was already familiar with the brand and felt incredibly comfortable with the idea of having a store I could call my own. Steve was ready to finally have his own business, too,” Heidi said. “Everything lined up so perfectly that it truly seemed as though it was meant to be. So we decided to dive in and seize this opportunity.”
Much like Heidi, Steve had fallen in love with Wild Birds Unlimited over the years. He watched as his wife found joy in helping other backyard bird feeding enthusiasts get the most out of their hobby.
“I fell in love with Wild Birds Unlimited through Heidi. She was so involved with the brand, and I watched her hobby grow in our own backyard,” Steve said. “Backyard bird feeding became something I grew passionate about, too, and putting people and nature together is a really great thing to get involved with. That’s what pulled me into the brand. It’s unique and very different than what you think of when you hear the word ‘franchising.’”
In 2014, the Mumas officially became the owners of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Hendersonville, North Carolina. While attending a training seminar preparing them for the grand opening of their new store, they found out that the Asheville, North Carolina store was for sale—the same one that Heidi had worked at for nearly six years. Heidi says that in that moment, their jaws hit the floor—they couldn’t say no to the incredible opportunity. And by April 2015, they had signed a deal for the Asheville location. In less than a year, the Mumas had become multi-unit franchisees for Wild Birds Unlimited.
But their involvement with the brand didn’t stop there. Just this past summer, while attending an annual meeting for Wild Birds Unlimited franchise system, one of their employees in Asheville gave them a call filled with some big news—their competitor, who had a storefront on the other end of town, closed their doors. The Mumas saw another opportunity. And after checking out the vacant space and consulting with the brand’s development team once again, they signed on to open another Wild Birds Unlimited this fall in North Asheville and did so in the fall of 2016.
“We had no clue when we signed on for that first store in Hendersonville that things would escalate in the way that they have today. We owe a lot of our progress and continued success to the Wild Birds Unlimited team. They’ve been so supportive—making sure we had everything we needed to thrive. I appreciated their honesty along the way, too. This was a situation we could have never planned for. And thanks to them, it’s been absolutely incredible.”