BUCKHANNON — The U.S. Small Business Administration encourages everyone to ‘shop, eat and play’ locally this holiday season. SBA Mid Atlantic Regional Administrator Michelle Christian visited Buckhannon Tuesday to tour local businesses and raise awareness about Small Business Saturday.
“It’s so nice to see a community that’s thriving,” Christian said. “I met with local officials here this morning and they’re really interested in bringing Buckhannon to the next level and with the economy and the way things are going it really looks like it can happen.”
The tour started at Tateep Unique Boutique on Main Street where owner Lisa Hulver explained why she opened her own small business.
“I think most women have that little dream that they’d like to have their own little boutique and my husband and I had been talking about how I was not happy where I was because I was just stuck in an office and kitchen all day and I just was not a happy person.”
Hulver said she think the secret to her success is her stock of unique items from other local businesses
“I try to carry trendy clothing, handbags and jewelry,” Hulver said. “I carry Simply Southern, I carry a lot of stuff that’s from my local vendors. I try to cater to my customers. I try to treat them like I want to be treated.”
Hulver said she didn’t think her shop would have been possible without Susie Higgins.
“She is the one that helped make everything happen here,” Hulver said. “When I started getting interested in buying the shop I called the Chamber of Commerce and they’re the ones that told me to call Susie and she led me the whole way through.”
Susie Higgens is a small business coach with the Small Business Development Center and has an office in the Upshur County Development Authority.
The next stop on the tour was Fish Hawk Acres where everyone on the tour could purchase lunch. Co-owner Dale Hawkins said he was lucky to have the SBA to help him formulate his business plan.
“It’s just a blessing to have someone like that at our fingertips.” Hawkins said. “A lot of people in Buckhannon don’t know that that’s available to them here and it just takes a weight off your shoulders.”
Hawkins said he wanted to work for himself after he left his job at the Stonewall Resort.
I worked for the man for a long time, and I grew tired of the corporate lifestyle,” Hawkins said. “I just wanted to be on my own, so I left Stonewall Resort, started farming and then got back into catering and then it just snowballed into this.”
Hawkin said he is where he hoped he would be at this point in his business and that they are expanding to the building next to them to make the market bigger.
“We’re going to expand the market part,” Hawkins said. “There will be a deli meat and cheese case, you can get fresh meat, chicken, beef, pork, produce, retail, beer and wine. It’s just an expansion of what the market is.”
The tour ended at Woody’s Bowling Alley for a ribbon cutting with the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce.