July 17, 2017
The resiliency and southern charm of Georgetown, South Carolina
After receiving 14,000 nominations for towns to put in the spotlight during season two of “Small Business Revolution,” we hit the road to visit eight inspiring towns that made our short list of potential finalists. Throughout summer, we’re looking back and sharing the stories of what made each town special – including guest posts from local leaders and some profiles of businesses in these communities. This is the first post in our weeklong focus on Georgetown, South Carolina.
Resiliency was perhaps the most common theme as we traversed the country, visiting the small towns that made our short list. But no town embodied the spirit of small-town perseverance and tenacity quite like Georgetown, South Carolina.
As you stroll down beautiful Front Street, passing beneath the sparkling lights from the Strand Theater marquee, it would be easy to assume that the town has always been this serene. But in fact, this community and its small business owners have overcome unbelievable adversity.
In 2013, a fire tragically destroyed several buildings along Georgetown’s historic waterfront district in downtown. Refusing to give up, the tough community banded together, with everyone coming out of the woodwork to lend each other a hand. Soon, the businesses that had been leveled by the fire found new storefronts right down the street in the heart of downtown, reopening their popular shops once again.
Flash forward just a few years, to last October, and the absolutely unthinkable occurred: Georgetown was pummeled with a “1,000-year flood” – damaging many of the same businesses that had just worked so hard to pick up the pieces, in the wake of the 2013 fire. But once again, the seemingly insurmountable challenge was no match for this incredible community, which rebuilt itself once again.
“We work hard, we help each other – and we just keep going,” Lauren Joseph, Georgetown’s tourism marketing director, explained when we visited town. “You’ve got to keep going,” she said, adding that small businesses are “the heartbeat of our town.”
Georgetown is a quintessential southern community, where storefronts exude southern charm and downtown passersby greet each other by their first names. And if Georgetown is any indication, it may be true that the greater the challenge a community overcomes, the greater the reward when they emerge on the other side.
Today, Georgetown boasts a bustling downtown, where sight-seers, residents and love birds meander down the gorgeous Harborwalk at dusk. Tourists and residents alike enjoy frequent Music in the Park events, tours of historic homes that date back to the 1700s, and the Wooden Boat Show, which each October brings together nautical enthusiasts, history buffs, vacationers, local families and more.
If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself in Georgetown, you’ll no doubt be amazed at this strong community and the caring people who have kept it alive and prospering, despite so much hardship. There are so many great small businesses to support: You can swing into the family-owned Independent Seafood for fresh-caught fish, or snag some down-home cooking from Aunny’s Country Kitchen. Grab a unique gift from Rice Birds, or score a snazzy new outfit at Miss Lizzy’s clothing boutique. The list goes on and on.
We’re so grateful that Georgetown welcomed us into their community with open arms. They’re an inspiration to what is possible for small towns everywhere.