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Small Business RevolutionBlog

Where Are They Now

September 6, 2017

What Wabash is doing to help sustain new businesses

By Cameron Potts
Vice President of Public Relations, Deluxe

New things are the best. Who doesn’t love new? We all love a new car, a new house, a new job, a newborn baby, a new pet. New is great.

Yet new wears off. My new car doesn’t have that new car smell any more. My cute new puppy grew up and chews up my things. That newborn cries a lot and I don’t get any sleep.

In season one of the Small Business Revolution, town leader Christine Flohr articulated the challenge of supporting small businesses in Wabash, Indiana. There is a buzz when a new business opens and the community and business leaders come together to celebrate it, but there is no follow through. Once the new is gone, then what?

“How do we sustain these businesses?” Flohr asked.

In the Deluxe return to Wabash episode, we find out how the businesses featured on www.smallbusinessrevolution.org have fared one year later. Some, like Ellen’s Dress and Bridal Boutique have thrived. Others, like Thriftalicious are doing better, but are not over the new business hump yet. And a business like Schlemmer Bros., around for more than 100 years, is making tough business decisions.

Empty storefronts in any Main Street or down town are a big deal, in communities large or small. So, it is natural to be excited when a new business opens. That opening signals prosperity and hope. Yet a few months in, it can be difficult for a business development entity in any town to know how to prop up that new business. Which is Flohr’s point. How do you maintain the momentum?

The Small Business Revolution gave a boost to the six businesses in Wabash, including The Eclectic Shoppe, Harry’s Old Kettle Pub and Grill and Filament Tattoo. But that was all it was – a boost. The business owners must make it work after that boost and the community has to help them. The community connection was perhaps the most powerful aspect of season one – the fact that the business owners themselves realized that working together for the common good of all was what would sustain them.

Don’t get me wrong, one business isn’t responsible for making another business succeed. Yet talking about common problems or sharing triumphs and challenges does give each business a chance to see they can make it together. Lisa Downs, owner of Ellen’s, not only became even more connected to her community, but she became a leader in the bridal industry, learning and sharing with other shops in the hopes of becoming a better business woman. She completely succeeded.

In returning to Wabash, this episode is a celebration of the love of small business and the spirit of camaraderie that permeates throughout the town and the business owners themselves. It is also a reminder of how important it is to put in the diligent work after the “new” has expired.

As Maria Smyth, owner of The Eclectic Shoppe, so eloquently states at the end of the episode: “I think before we were there for each other and we were close as friends, but we are a family now, and so much more. Salut!”

Salut, Maria, and all the small businesses that make Wabash and this country thrive.

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