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Jun 19, 2024

Our conversation today is part of an ongoing partnership with the US Small Business Administration highlighting small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley as well as offering advice and resources to all small businesses. My co-host for this monthly series is Carl Knoblock, Virginia District Director for the SBA.

In this episode we travel to the town of Mount Jackson to meet with Olivia Hilton, town manager along with several small businesses located there: Joe Proctor, Vice President & General Manager of Shenandoah Caverns, his daughter Ashley who is their Director of Events & Marketing, Tina Bowman, owner of Shenandoah Bowling Lanes, Taylor Allebaugh, owner of Wildflower Wellness Spa, Tasha Blu, owner of Rooted Beauty Collective, and Jada McClanahan, owner of Coffee to Grow.

We explore a variety of topics centering on local business operations, tourism, and community development. Everyone exchanges ideas on how to leverage their unique offerings to attract more visitors and foster economic growth and collaboration.

Carl to shares his enthusiasm for unique attractions like the local duck pin bowling alley, managed by Tina. Tina detailed the historic significance of her business, recognized as the oldest bowling alley in Virginia. She discussed challenges related to maintaining the aging equipment. The group explores solutions, including Carl’s suggestion to involve local trade schools in reproducing hard-to-find parts using classic manufacturing techniques.

Attention shifts to promoting tourism, with Carl emphasizing the potential of highlighting Mount Jackson's rich Native American history. Olivia shares plans for the 250th anniversary celebrations, discussing potential funding and marketing opportunities to support local attractions. Joe and Ashley describe Shenandoah Caverns’ historical significance and detail their attractions, including American Celebrations on Parade and the Yellow Barn. They underscore how interconnected local businesses could benefit the community as a whole.

Jada introduces her coffee shop, Coffee to Grow, which specializes in Costa Rican coffee and uses traditional brewing methods. She shares her journey from drinking commercial coffee to becoming passionate about more refined brewing techniques. Her shop also offers unique coffee flavors, such as chocolate banana and butter rum. Jada is in the process of introducing online ordering and shares her success with hosting community events, like book clubs and tea parties.

Taylor details the offerings at Wildflower Wellness Spa, which include massages, nail services, and specialized treatments like hot stone massages, along with her traditional Native American massage training. Tasha discussed her business, Rooted Beauty Collective, which provides hair and makeup services, particularly for weddings - even traveling to meet brides wherever they need her service. They both highlighted how their businesses offer unique, high-quality services that attract both locals and visitors.

The discussion then shifts to potential community events, with Olivia presenting the idea for Tater Fest, a quirky festival celebrating the local potato chip factory and other agricultural products. This event, scheduled for September 28, 2024, will feature unique activities like a potato salad contest and a couch potato 5K. The group collectively discussed other promotional strategies to make Mount Jackson more appealing to tourists, including a coffee trail.

Our conversation showcases the rich tapestry of offerings in Mount Jackson, highlighting how cohesive efforts can significantly bolster local tourism and business prosperity.