July 22, 2019
The Ball Theatre
Author: Jen Amundson, Deluxe Director of Social Media and Communications
In our “Small Business Stories” series, we hit the road to interview small business owners about their unique journeys. Each story provides inspiration and insights, while shining a spotlight on the passionate small business owners who are so critical to our economies and our communities.
Rodney Nicholson says opening a movie theatre has changed him. He wasn’t a huge fan of musicals before, but now? “I’ve started singing along with them,” he says with a grin.
Rodney has owned the Ball Theatre in Pageland, South Carolina for two years. The historic theatre was established in 1940, but had not shown movies since the 1950s. The building was used for other purposes for decades before being purchased and restored by Rodney. Now, he shows movies at family-friendly prices on the building’s single screen.
“Our ticket prices are five dollars and a lot of people question how we keep going with that price,” he explains. “We try to keep it moderate on both sides, ticket price and concession price, so that families who we primarily cater to can come and enjoy a movie experience and not have to spend a lot of money.”
Rodney says low overhead is one of the benefits of being in a small town. But he’s also able to host school concerts and other community programs, thinking of the theatre as a place that Pageland residents can come to be entertained by more than movies.
His top priority is ensuring that each customer has a memorable experience. Advertising and social media are important for getting people in the door, he says, but they can’t come at the expense of the experience once those customers arrive. “We need to be concerned about who has come through our doors and the experience they have once they walk inside our business,” he advises. “We can send social media ads out all day long and if we’re only concerned with who hasn’t come through our doors, that’s a mistake.”
That said, Rodney says he has had great luck using social media for advertising and recommends giving it a try, because that is where people are paying attention.
The friendly theatre owner also advises potential small business owners to be sure they have the right personality for the job. He sees being a “personable person” as a key requirement, because catering to your customers and meeting their needs is job one to ensure the business will be successful. He is certainly achieving that in his small town.
Looking for more support? You can find resources in the Deluxe Small Business Resource Center.