Dave Scarrette, the New River Valley entrepreneur who owns Radford Plaza Cinema aka Scarrette’s Movie Theatre or Plaza Cinema in Radford, loves his job. “They say to stop and smell the roses,” he laughs, “but I say stop and smell the popcorn.”
Loving something doesn’t mean counting on it for income is necessarily appropriate. Jim Flowers, executive director of VT KnowledgeWorks, helps entrepreneurs take their ideas from concept to reality every day. He notes that while entrepreneurs don’t look alike, those who succeed share understanding of four general characteristics: market, magic, mentors and moxie. You can learn more about the entrepreneurial support Flowers offers at http://www.vtknowledgeworks.com/
For those with these characteristics, there are plenty of opportunities in the New River Valley to go into business. Here are five of the region’s entrepreneurs who spotted market opportunities and are working their magic with mentors and moxie.
Kibbles on Main
Kibbles on Main at the north end of Blacksburg’s Main Street started when owner Dennis Price’s corporate employer reorganized, and he was asked to relocate. Price had been thinking about running a pet-supply store as a retirement project, and rather than pack a moving van, he “simply moved up the timeline.”
Fourteen short weeks after making his decision, he opened. In that brief time, Price undertook intense legwork. “I spent a few days researching the viability of a small pet-supply store, two weeks traveling the region to visit similar stores, two more developing business and marketing plans, then I worked through August and September readying the site.”
He’s able to offer lower prices than bigger stores, and he says that’s been key to his success. “My location has been helpful. I’m also able to tailor my item mix to the community’s needs. But that wouldn’t matter if I weren’t able to offer lower prices than the chain stores.”
One difference of working for himself rather than a corporation is that “the work is more fulfilling and meaningful. Success is apparent and immediate. So is failure. So there’s also a different level of pressure.” He’s quick to note that the best part of Kibbles on Main is “the reaction I’ve received from my customers. I’ve made many great friends.” Check to see if Kibbles has your pet’s favorite nibbles: http://www.kibblesonmain.com/
Keepin’ It Clean
Jessica Hylton was inspired to open her one-woman cleaning service, Keepin’ It Clean, because of listening. “I heard people talk about needing help cleaning their homes. I know how good I feel when my own house is clean, so I like my customers to feel the same way.”
Like Price, Hylton took about two months to transform her decision into reality. She doesn’t require a storefront, so she focused on determining what supplies to stock, choosing a name and developing her marketing. Her customers find her through events, referrals and the website “Angie’s List.”
She recommends that anyone who’d like to open a business “research what they’re starting, and see what type of demand there is. Find out what you’ll need to get it started, and talk with other people to get different ideas.”
If dust bunnies are reproducing under your bed, consider Keepin’ It Clean: firstname.lastname@example.org
and Rose McCutchan
Red Rooster Coffee Roaster
Red Rooster Coffee Roaster in Floyd is owned by the husband-and-wife team of Haden Polseno-Hensley and Rose McCutchan, both Floyd natives. When they returned to the area after college and jobs elsewhere, McCutchan’s family was running the Blackwater Loft, a coffee shop. Helping out, she wasn’t happy with the quality of the organic coffee.
Polseno-Hensley says his wife “wanted to see about roasting our own coffee, and once I got hold of it, I got passionate about the coffee and small town entrepreneurship.” This was summer, 2009; they began to renovate their roasting and retail space in downtown Floyd in December, and opened in May of 2010.
After receiving positive feedback about the coffee at the cafe, they started selling their roasted beans wholesale. “We’ve basically grown into selling bags of coffees to grocery stores and in bulk to cafes and restaurants.” Individuals can get Red Rooster coffee at Eats, Annie Kay’s or Lucie Munroe’s. Their Floyd storefront is open Thursday through Saturday.
In addition to local java-lovers, Red Rooster ships to customers as far away as Germany. One of their regular clients in New York City is Kickstarter, the crowdsourcing website they used to build their “shack” – really an open air, timber-frame coffee shop – at Floydfest in 2011. Visit their website to learn about coffee roasting, or to order: http://www.redroostercoffeeroaster.com/
Rusty’s Custom Lumber and Landscaping Supplies
Rusty’s Custom Lumber and Landscaping Supplies in Pulaski opened in March of 2008. Rusty O’Dell owns and operates the business with his wife, Tania. “We’ve been working side-by-side for 29 years.,” she says. “We bought our first mill to build our home.” Although that particular project didn’t come to fruition, the mill became a part-time business, then a full-time one. “Four sawmills later has brought us to what we are today ~ a retail lumber and landscaping business,” Tania continues. “Our kids have played a big role over the years.”
The recession has been challenging. “With the good Lord’s help and offering a variety of merchandise, we have been able to survive,” states Rusty. “If we only had one product, I don’t think we would still be in business.” You can buy mulch in bulk, decorative landscape gravels, wood table tops, lumber by the board or a truck load. Tania paints on wood for some household accents, and firewood is air dried in the warehouse. Customers can drive into the building and get loaded up with firewood, like a drive-through. Rusty’s also offers delivery service. Explore possibilities for your next building or landscaping project at http://www.rustyscustomlumber.com/
Scarrette’s Plaza Cinema
Although Dave Scarrette’s name graces his business, Scarrette’s Plaza Cinema in Radford, he considers all the employees his “movie family.” An avid movie buff, in 2004 he jumped at the chance to own the theater.
Because it was an established business, Scarrette’s entrepreneurship didn’t start from scratch, though he’d considered how to improve customer service before the purchase. Despite this thoughtfulness, the transition to digital cinema proved to be an unexpected hurdle. “When we bought the theater, we didn’t realize we’d have to make that change,” he says. But they’ve done it: the cinema shows digital movies as of October first, and they’re not raising prices.
The mission statement sums up his philosophy: To provide affordable family entertainment. “It gets harder and harder for a family to have an affordable night out,” he notes. Since Scarrette “tries to provide a family atmosphere,” that’s particularly important, and customers appreciate his efforts. He says an unexpected pleasure of the movie business is how much appreciation movie-goers express to him.
If you’d like to see a movie, go to http://radfordplazacinema.com for movies and showtimes. And don’t forget to smell the popcorn!
by Lesley Howard
Photos by Amodeo Photography