WILLIAMSON — The Williamson Farmer’s Market was chosen as the winner at last night’s Entrepreneurs’ Cafe event, winning a total of $1,000.
The selection was made by a majority rule vote of roughly 50 people within the Righteous Brew Coffee Shop on Second Avenue after hearing pitches and financial plans from five different local businesses.
Leading off the event was Adam Warren, who told the standing-room-only packed coffee shop about his business, Hatfield & McCoy Guided Tours, which has been in operation for roughly two and a half months. He said that he came up with the idea during this year’s Memorial Day weekend when tourists began to show up at his house after the premiere of the Hatfield and McCoy miniseries.
Warren lives inside the McCoy homeplace. He said that people would often stop by and asked how to get to a certain place, and eventually decided that he would just take people there himself. He said that he had already given tours to around 100 people so far, with some coming from as far away as Canada.
“You can’t just drive by and snap a few pictures on my tours,” Warren said to the crowd. “You have to walk and hike.”
He also said that he hadn’t paid himself yet, but had instead been using the money he’s earned back into the company. If he won, he said, he would invest that money back into his company.
Up next was Debbie Young, a retired schoolteacher. She said that she had found herself without much to do, but after mulling around a few ideas with her daughter, Natalie, she realized that many people who enter the Coal House often ask about places to eat.
So she decided to pursue the idea of a restaurant.
“I like good food. I like it attractively served. And I like salads,” Young said.
Calling it Fresh!, Young said that the menu would consist mostly of salads, with special and a daily changing menu. In the winter, she mentioned that soup might be served. She said that she won, she would utilize the winnings as seed money to get the business rolling.
Michael Perry presented afterward, telling the audience why Williamson needed his business, Mad Dog Fitness.
“Just like a muscle, a community is only as strong as its weakest part,” Perry said, citing the epidemic of obesity and pills plaguing the area.
Host of the television show, “Get off your butt with Mad Dog,” Perry explained how his fitness complex would help the area by re-educating people instead of having them react, to not allow them to get into a bad lifestyle in the first place.
He described an area that would benefit women and children in an after-school program — one in which the women would drop their kids off who would learn about about healthy living and women could have an opportunity to work out.
“Coal is low right now,” Perry said, “But we have resources within ourselves.”
Helen Ann Stanley, director of the Williamson Farmers Market, spoke next. She said that she had been in Williamson for 25 and always had a dream of food. With the Farmers Market, she said that she had found her niche. She reported that the Farmers Market, thus far, had sold $29,000 worth of produce and has a number of happy, loyal customers.
She said that if she won, she would split the money in half, and give $500 to two people who had been with the Farmers Market from the start, Doug Dudley, of Burnwell, Ky., and Ray Smith, if Kimper, Ky. Stanley said that those two men would match the $500 to construct a high tunnel on each man’s farm, extending the growing season and allowing the farmer’s market to produce year-round.
“My name is Helen Ann Stanley and I’m here to let everyone know that that Farmers Market is open for business,” she said, closing her presentation.
Eric Simon concluded the presentations with his pitch of a local artisan shop. He said that he had been all over West Virginia and had discovered a number of artists who would never have an opportunity to have their work showcased or sold. His artisan shop, which would also consist of a gallery and cultural museum, would promote and sell people’s artwork, whether it be quilting, painting, sketches, jewelry and so on.
“I believe it would be good for the tourists who stop by,” Simon said. If he won, he said the winnings would be placed into an account as seed money.”
Votes were tallied up and Dr. Donovan Beckett, Williamson Redevelopment Chairman, who had introduced each presenter, announced the winner as Stanley, which was met with applause from the audience. Beckett told those who didn’t win to present again next time, as it is hoped that the event becomes quarterly.
Beckett spoke with the Daily News after the event ended, calling it a “great success.”
“We had 50 people from the community come out to judge five entrepreneurs who put their necks on the line to give pitches,” Beckett said. “The community showed support of the spirit of entrepreneurship.
“The engine of the United States is the entrepreneur, the small business owner,” Beckett said. “Anything we can do to encourage that is a success.”
To participate in the next event, contact Williamson City Hall and ask for an application. The event was sponsored by the Williamson Redevelopment Authority and Vision Shared.