March 25, 2019
Searcy Six: Meet the Businesses Chosen for Season 4 of “Main Street”
By: Jenna Paulus
March 13-14 was an intense time in Searcy, Arkansas. Our Deluxe team put 12 small businesses through our speed dating round for Season 4 of Small Business Revolution, a process that helps us determine the final six businesses to be featured on the show.
Each business came with amazing stories of success and struggle. Each year we look for businesses that are not only unique to their town, but also the show, as well as businesses owners who represent all different stages of development. Whether they’re startups or have been in business for 10 years; are at the point of almost closing or growing faster than they can manage; we’re excited to share this year’s businesses and tell their stories this fall. Each of the 12 would have made a great episode, unfortunately, we had to choose only six:
Coty Skinner started ARganic this year, so he’s officially our first startup. A former Army soldier, Coty was medically discharged after serving the country for 10 years. He planned to stay in the Army for 20 years to retire, so this was a change of pace that forced him to seek a new purpose in life. He and his wife have a love for giving, becoming foster parents to 14 children over the years, so he decided to start making tables to donate to foster families. His goal was to make tables where larger foster families could sit down to eat together, which is always difficult. As he was creating tables and doing other woodworking projects, he realized he may have a business, thus spawning ARganic.
Since this is a startup, Coty needs help with everything, from marketing to pricing, to determining when to scale up. He would love to hire veterans as well as people who have come out of the foster care system. Our team at Deluxe is excited to get Coty on the right path and see this startup grow.
El Mercado Cavadas
El Mercado is a specialty grocery store in Searcy focusing on Mexican and Hispanic food. Started by Catrina and Jose Mendoza, they viewed this endeavor as a way to work together and to help change Jose’s career working in construction. The previous owner of the store was looking to close, so Jose and Catrina jumped at the chance to dive in and start their own business. El Mercado sells traditional Hispanic foods like dried peppers, spices and snacks, while also operating as a money transfer service for people to send money back to their families in other countries.
The couple recently added a Carniceria to the store, a traditional Mexican butcher case with fresh, marinated cuts of meat. They would also like to build out their space with a bakery. In addition, they’d love to reach traffic beyond the Hispanic community by sparking curiosity within the rest of Searcy. They don’t have a web site or a great logo. They market through Facebook. The Deluxe team has a lot to work with at El Mercado and we can’t wait to showcase all this amazing grocery has to offer.
Nicole Hopkins and Casey Cox started nooma in Searcy to be a mind body experience studio. If you take a class at nooma in downtown Searcy, you’ll see this isn’t your normal yoga class. Cardio is worked into the classes as well as motivational speeches. Nicole and Casey sought to create a place to help build a lifestyle and ground people’s spirits. Both have been stay-at-home moms and dealt with struggles in life: they found their business passion in yoga.
From the outside looking in, nooma may seem like they’re killing it, with a great following on social media and two other locations opened since they started in 2017. However, as new business owners, they are struggling to make the finances work and learning how to manage multiple locations. They are seeking to translate their large social following into customers. Deluxe works with many small businesses who have multiple locations and, in some cases, become franchises, so we’re excited to roll up our sleeves and work with a business that is having trouble managing growth, to show a new twist on a small business.
Savor + Sip
Opened in 2018 by Amelia Brackett and Josie Braun, Savor + Sip is the only downtown Searcy coffeeshop. Moving back to Searcy after a stint in Josie’s hometown of Winnipeg, the pair decided to turn their love of hosting friends and family into a business. Amelia always wanted a coffee shop and her family grew up making crepes, so the idea was hatched for Savor + Sip. With help from Amelia’s father to update the downtown space and open last year, they’re only now realizing some of the difficulties of running a business.
With a beautiful space downtown, they have encountered a few bumps along the way. Their hours are long, and finances are a struggle. Taking home regular paychecks hasn’t happened. While they have a great logo, they haven’t spent money on advertising and foot traffic ebbs and flows. They’re also still trying to determine if their model with coffee and crepes makes sense, or if they should add or remove options from their menu. As our first coffee shop featured on the series, Deluxe is ready to help Amelia and Josie bring in more customers through marketing and also bring more people to the beautiful Searcy downtown.
Whilma’s Filipino Restaurant
Whilma Frogoso and her husband left the Philippines and came to the United States to pursue the American dream. They wanted to create a better opportunity for their four children. When they came to Searcy, to be closer to Whilma’s sister, she wanted to introduce people to authentic Filipino cuisine, the type of food her father used to make her, so she decided to open her restaurant in 2009.
At the restaurant, Whilma is the boss. She is the chef and manages the employees. Her husband helps in the morning before going to his full-time job in Little Rock, but it is mostly Whilma running the show. Being the only restaurant of its kind in the area, they attract a lot of college students, but struggle to bring in locals. Whilma does see the seasonality of school impact her numbers, so she needs help marketing her business to a wider audience. With a lot of restaurant experience under our belts, Deluxe is ready to take on the challenge and make Whilma a household name in Searcy.
Zion Climbing Center
The first non-profit to be featured on Small Business Revolution, Zion Climbing Center was started more than 14 years ago as a for-profit business. Sean Hudkins and his wife, Emily, made the transition to non-profit status in order to support its mission: to be a place of “true community” in Searcy. Although rock climbing is the foundation, the building itself has more than 12,000 square feet, which can be used for events, team building activities, concerts and more.
After 14 years in business, Sean would like to take a steady paycheck from Zion, which has a 9-member board of directors, including Sean’s wife, Emily. Zion exists on word of mouth and needs a ton of repairs to the physical space. In addition, they have virtually no signage on the outside of their building and for passersby, the building looks abandoned at times. The Deluxe team is excited to get to work to help Zion Climbing Center promote its mission to a broader audience.
After spending the last week in Searcy, we fell in love with the people and businesses and can’t wait to share their stories this fall when Season 4 premieres. Stay tuned for more updates on our blog as well as on our social media channels.