Old Town entrepreneurs beat the odds of small business failure because of community success.
According to an article in Forbes, 80 percent of U.S. small businesses fail within the first 18 months after opening. However, small businesses in Old Town appear to do better.
There are more than 60 small businesses within the borders of Old Town. Most are members of the Old Town Commercial Association and have been a part of the Old Town community for at least three years and some for over a decade.
David Gregware, chairman of OTCA’s promotions committee and owner of Tallulah’s Folly, said that small businesses in the historic district of Lansing succeed because of the community’s passion and dedication to community enrichment.
“Business owners here are community orientated and are more aggressive than the average business owner,” said Gregware. “Every business wants every other business to succeed.”
In addition to supporting one another, business owners count on OTCA and its promotion’s committee to bring new visitors to the community with the many events and festivals they plan throughout the year. Gregware said that he and the committee members work with business owners to give them what they need.
“We are trying to grow and survive as a community,” he said. “That is why we are successful and continue to be.”
Strength in Numbers
Just across the street, Ashley Lamb manages the neighboring business, Lambs’ Gate Antiques and agrees with Gregware that it is the tight-knit community of Old Town that makes the difference for her small business.
“Business owners in this community promote each other,” said Lamb. “David Gregware is one of the many volunteers on the promotions committee that work their butt off to keep Old Town thriving.”
Lamb said that the biggest key to the small business success in Old Town is that they are a community of small businesses rather than being an island off by themselves. Without the other small businesses in Old Town, no business would survive, said Lamb.
“The more stores that surround us and move into Old Town, the merrier,” said Lamb.
The newest member
Rhea Van Atta opened the Old Town General Store seven months ago and is determined to beat the 18-month statistic.
“I have been a part of the Old Town community for 12 years,” said Van Atta. “That is why I chose to open my business here, my roots are here.”
Van Atta said that she and other small businesses owners are determined to make business flourish in Old Town. She said the benefit of being a small business owner is having the extension of yourself in your business.
“My store is an extension of my home; it’s clean and it’s lived in,” said Van Atta. “It’s also warm, it smells good, and I have pretty things.”
Three of Old Town’s small business owners all agreed that the secret to a successful small business is dedication and most importantly, community spirit.