TOWN OF BLUEFIELD, V.a. (WVVA) It’s been one year since the Bluefield Virginia Stakeholder’s group took a ‘seat at the table,’ strategizing ways to attract and keep businesses in the town of Bluefield.
The founder, Savannah Carabin, started the group in 2018, right before Small Business Saturday, to attract bigger businesses and traffic to the downtown area.
“[Afterwards], we saw the different needs of businesses and I decided the stakeholders group needed to keep meeting in order to address individual needs of business owners,” said Carabin.
A graduate of Bluefield College, Carabin is the Marketing Coordinator for The Corner Stone Gift Shop in Downtown Bluefield.
She hopes more residents will continue shopping locally to keep small businesses up and running.
“No business is immune from the economy,” said Carabin.
Last month, The Last Fountain, a popular restaurant tucked inside of the New Graham Pharmacy in downtown Bluefield, closed down. The restaurant had been serving guests since 1935.
“I think people thought that it would be here forever,” said Vicki Mahood, manager of the Corner Stone. “The fountain was [from] a very different time and we didn’t have the fast food competition back then [that we do now]. The restaurant just couldn’t keep up with a lot of the businesses that are surrounding us now.”
Bernard Farley was a regular customer at The Last Fountain, eating brunch at least twice a week inside the restaurant with his mother.
“Everyone was so happy,” said Farley. “I was almost in tears when they closed.”
Like many customers, Farley hopes the restaurant will re-open.
“It is up for sub-lease,” said Mahood. “It can be leased just as it is or this space could be used for some other kind of restaurant but we do need more food options in the downtown area of Bluefield.”
Carabin announced, the Stakeholders have been recognized as a Neighborhood Champion by American Express for ‘Small Business Saturday,’ taking place on November 30, for bringing small businesses and shoppers together for the shopping event.
Many business owners will be joining forces on Saturday, November 9, for the ‘Bluefield, VA Open House,’ a time to put all businesses on the map.
The participating business will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., offering various deals and promotions to customers.
‘It’s open to any business in Bluefield, VA,” said Carabin.
“If we want Bluefield to thrive, we’ve got to support each other and stop buying outside of our area,” said Mahood. “We need to put our money where our town is.”
The companies participating in the open house include Anytime Fitness, The Clothesline, The Corner Stone, Country Living Primitives, Double J’s Prowl Around Shop and Leslie Ann’s.
Special thanks from Carabin:
“First, David Comer helped me start the group back when I knew something needed to be done. Second, New Graham Pharmacy co-owner Chris Bailey who allows me to do stakeholders work as part of my job. He is a full supporter and works hard so Vicki and I can grow the business and grow our community.”