By Marsha Shonk, an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Town of Whitesville
Located on Route 3 at the Boone-Raleigh County line is a small coal town called Whitesville.
In its heyday from the 1950s to the 1970s, it was the “Shopping Center of Coal River.” Over time, more and more businesses closed due to aging owners, the decline in coal mining jobs, and less vehicle traffic due to the opening of the West Virginia Turnpike.
But recently, businesses have started popping up all over town and moving into the vacant buildings that have sat empty for so many years.
There is one local couple who has taken entrepreneurship to a new level. This is their story, and the story of a community’s series of fortunate events.
Wayne and Sandy Hubbard have had a silk screen and embroidery business for several years. They reside in Sylvester and until recently housed their business, Bad Dog Graphix, there too.
After a couple years, they relocated the business to one apartment within an apartment building they own. After a couple more years, they outgrew the apartment, and the business spilled over into a second apartment. After a year, their business doubled, forcing the Hubbards to look for another large building.
They found one in Whitesville. It had previously been an insurance office. The building has approximately 9,500 square feet, two floors and a basement.
The owner put on a new roof and offered them a deal they couldn’t turn down. The Hubbards immediately started brainstorming how they could afford the mortgage and utilities for a building this large. They came up with the idea of renting space to small business owners.
Within two weeks, they had every space rented. Then came the name – Shoppes in the Ville.
Most people never get the chance to own a business due to the fear of risk and a lack of resources. But Shoppes in the Ville offers affordable rent, that includes utilities.
The Hubbards not only found a new home for their ever-growing business, they also created an opportunity for the startup of new local businesses.
Bad Dog Graphix is located on the entire second floor. At present, they have four stores open on the first floor. Their goal is to see these businesses grow to the point of moving out on their own.
Along with Bad Dog Graphix, there’s Mountaineer Electronics, Bev’s Country Closet, Beach Bum Tanning and a coffee shop/bakery opening in a few weeks.
See how a series of fortunate events can create five new businesses in one small Appalachian town?
Marsha is one of many VISTA The Hub funds.
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