so i know how to set up a SVN itself. I've created the folder and already have SVN itself running on my Mac. However, I'm not sure how to actually add a repository to the folder so I can connect to the repository to start downloading. Am I missing something here?
You already have a server running yes?
Then just do this:
svn co http://server/path/to/directory/to/checkout ./repository
This creates a new folder 'repository' (you can name it however you want) and downloads all the stuff in 'path/to/directory/to/checkout' to it. If this contains nothing, this is not a problem but svn knows now that 'repository' is under version control.