I recently met the owner of a new shop in downtown Malakoff “Opal and Viv's”. Her name is Kathryn. She’s fun, interesting and obviously....a risk taker. In our quick conversation, I learned that she moved to Malakoff on a whim, knowing no one, quitting her job in the city, all to take a chance on the dream of owning her own boutique and having a little adventure.
Some people still do that. Retirement accounts, pensions, and tenure are no match for the allure of the unknown.
I get that spirit, I really do. There was a fire in my own belly to start a business, and it never went away. It grew, and grew, until I couldn't tamp it down any longer. That's when you know it's time to act. So I ended my teaching of career of 14 years and here we are today.
Many people know that we have partnered in yet another venture - Prairieville Row Properties. We are in the process of developing historic buildings and a historic hotel in downtown Athens.....bringing back to life a property that sat dormant for decades. The vision is opening a boutique hotel with forward-thinking retail/eating spaces in the downtown square. We are taking a chance.
That's the plan, and it's a wee bit scary (I'm not gonna lie). Personally, my bandwidth for risk taking is about the width of my thumb. It's not my nature. Thankfully, there are other partners in this venture that can take these risks in stride and their confidence gives me confidence.
We are hearing positive feedback, of course. "Athens NEEDS this!" and "I'm so excited!" "It's gonna be great!". But that's easy to say when it's not your bank account on the line. As much as we need that encouragement, all the partners have been in business long enough to know that nothing is guaranteed and even great execution still needs one thing to make it happen - support and a lot of it.
Here's the deal. We know there will be support. We know there's people that love to buy and support local as much as possible. That's not the question. The question is whether that support will grow and grow enough to help sustain the entrepreneurs that are risking it all for their dream. Because growth is where it's at.....growth in support of local businesses, encourages growth in the town, encourages growth in positive feelings, encourages more growth in entrepreneurs willing to risk, etc. All the talking to friends and visitors about where you are shopping and eating, encouraging others to go visit, sharing social media links, the whole nine yards....all of that is vital to helping good things stay.
The "Kathryns" of the world and the new entrepreneurs of Prairieville Row (who I know for a fact are excited but neeerrvvvousss)....they need your support, your pats on the back, and your chatter.
Because we want them to stay.
We want their chance taking to pay off.
We want good things for our good community.