The Giddy Up

giddy up bus exterior

By Casey Normile

Traci Cornwell comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her grandparents opened Cornwell Appliance on Central Ave in Colonie over sixty years ago. And her great-grandfather owned a shuttle business in Coxsackie. So her current path probably shouldn't be a surprise.

Traci was a finalist in last year's startup grant contest with what was then called The Bridge Runner Express, a plan to transport people between Albany and Saratoga. She didn't win the grant, but the judges were big fans of her, and they liked the idea -- they just thought it needed some more development.

A little more than a year later, her idea is up and running as The Giddy Up, offering $10 rides between Albany, Clifton Park, and Saratoga for Track season -- with plans for more.

giddy_up_bus_exterior_traci_cornwell.jpg

Where did you come up with this idea?

I think I always new I would start my own business. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. The idea for the shuttle came to me in college. [She attended Temple University for tourism and hospitality management] When I was home, I realized there was no affordable way to get from Albany/Clifton Park to Saratoga. The cabs were charging $50 or $60 each way making it $120 just in transportation to have a fun night out. Also, parking was a complete nightmare in Saratoga come track season and distance and having a few drinks makes people hesitant to jump in their car and risk being pulled over. But now there is no need to take that risk anymore.

traci_cornwell_greatgrandfather_bus.jpg
The shuttle service run by Traci's great-grandfather.

How are things going so far?

I launched June 5th and have been booked every weekend since! Events I have promoted are Parrot Head Festival, Brew Fest, Rascal Flatts, Phish, Country Fest, private parties and The Giddy Up launch party. Wedding shuttles are booked for the fall and I have plans for wine tours and fall events after the track season.

I am truly enjoying the industry and the business so far. The city of Albany and Saratoga are amazing when it comes to small businesses and have been very helpful with spreading the word and promoting the business.

[Traci also credited an eight-week entrepreneurship boot camp course she took with the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce -- "they have been extremely helpful."]

How did you come up with the name "The Giddy Up" -- and what prompted you to use it instead of Bridge Runner Express?

The Giddy Up was a name my sister had helped me come up with. I think the sound of it reflects the experience and atmosphere you gain when you enter the bus. Bridge Runner Express just was not memorable and didn't have the brand recognition I was looking to go with!

giddy_up_bus_being_painted.jpg
The bus during its renovation.

Where does one buy a big purple school bus? And what sort of modifications did you have to make to it?

I bought the bus in New Hampshire from a bus dealership. [It was school bus yellow when she bought it.] The whole bus was customized in this area from local business (Audio Obsessions in Colonie, Green Island Auto Body, No Name design in Troy and family friends). I customized the color, graphics, flooring, seats, lighting and sound system the way I wanted -- and ta da, you have the Giddy Up!

giddy_up_bus_people_on_bus.jpg
From Brew Fest.

Do you want this bus to be a party bus? (See: interior lighting)

It's not necessary classified as a party bus but you can call it whatever you want!

What is the best part about starting your own business? The hardest?

The best part about owning The Giddy Up is that I get to wake up everyday and work for something that I created. The success of the business is in my hands and that I have complete control over how well it does. I enjoy educating people about the business and watching how excited they get when they find out they can get from Albany to Saratoga round trip for $20.00!

The hardest part right now is the unknown and how busy we are going to be this summer. I am still doing my best to get the word out to people every day but many people are still out of the loop! 

This interview has been edited.
____

The Giddy Up will be offering service between Albany, Clifton Park, and Saratoga every day the Track is open during the season (so, no Tuesdays) with multiple departures throughout the day. And as Traci mentioned, outside of Track season, it's been offering transportation for events such as concerts. It's also available for rentals.

Traci says the first people ask her is whether she drives the bus. She doesn't -- at least, not yet. She says she currently has experienced bus drivers at the wheel. But she's planning to get a commercial driver's license after Track season slows down.

All photos courtesy of Traci Cornwell / Mel eMedia

Comments

So far, not so good. I'm trying to make a reservation and they have no customer service. You would think that now is the time to be prepared to assist customers. Giddy up!

I take this comment back. Traci has been great and solved my problem! I'll report back on my ride. Giddy up!

Oh, this makes me happy! I thought this was a really terrific idea when I saw it last year. I may actually step foot in Saratoga during racing season now - shocking! Best of luck to Traci!

Just wanted to report back-- my friend and I took the bus up yesterday for Opening Day, and it was great! On time, clean, very convenient. Hope its a big success.

how fantastic!!!

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